As a generally positive outlook kind of Twins fan, one of the most frustrating things to hear over and over again is fans complaining about payroll. Joe Mauer signed his huge contract extension back in 2010, and the fans went nuts over the $23M/year he would get until age 35. Now, 2012 and 2013 brought total payroll under $100M, and fans are outraged because their precious few cents’ worth of tax dollars are paying for that beauty of a baseball stadium in Minneapolis. My question is this, what would you have liked the Pohlad’s and Terry Ryan to do differently this off-season?
Here are the biggest names out on the market this winter:
Zack Greinke – SP – Signed by the Los Angeles Dodgers. Deal: 6 years, $147M, $24.5M/year. Greinke is 29, so the contract will take him to age 35. Career numbers: 97-78, 3.77 ERA, 8.0 K/9. He is a one-time All-Star and Cy Young winner, both in 2009 with the Royals. By WAR standards, he’s good for about 3.5 Wins Above Replacement per season over his career.
Josh Hamilton – OF – Singed by the Los Angeles Angels. Deal: 5 years, $125M, $25M/year. Hamilton is 31, so his contract goes to about age 36. Career numbers: .304 AVG, 161 HR, and 553 RBI in 6 seasons. Hamilton is a five-time All Star, and won the AL MVP in 2010. By WAR standards, he’s been good for just about 4 Wins Above Replacement per season over his 6-year MLB career.
Anibal Sanchez – SP – Signed by the Detroit Tigers. Deal: 5 years, $80M, $16M/year. Sanchez turns 29 in less than a month, which means his contract last until about age 34. Career numbers: 48-51, 3.75 ERA, 7.6 K/9. Sanchez has never been an All-Star or finished in even the top ten for Cy Young voting. By WAR standards, he’s worth about 2 Wins Above Replacement per season in his 7 seasons.
B.J. Upton – OF – Signed by the Atlanta Braves. Deal: 5 years, $75M, $15M/year. Upton is 28, meaning his contract will last until age 33. Career numbers: .255 AVG, 118 HR, 447 RBI, 232 SB, and 1020 SO in 8 seasons. Upton has never been an All-Star, won an MVP, a Gold Glove, or a Silver Slugger. By WAR standards, he’s been good for a little over 1.5 Wins Above Replacement per season in 8 seasons.
Those were the top 4 free agents this year. Again, baseball is funny sport in that you never know what could happen. But, based on the historical WAR of these 4 free agents, these guys would be worth about 11 wins more than a AAA player. For an extra $80M/year with these four players, which would double the Twins current payroll, they could give themselves a good chance to be over .500 again. Oh, and five years from now, we would all be complaining about how 35 year old Josh Hamilton is not earning his $25M/year anymore.
Beyond that you can throw out names like Torii Hunter, Edwin Jackson, Melky Cabrera, Dan Haren, and Mike Napoli. Knowing that it would have cost even more to get any of these guys to come to Minnesota, I can’t say that it would have been worth it to sign any of them. You look at how many times these big long-term contracts given to players around the age of 30, and more often than not it comes back to cost GM’s their jobs. The Chicago Cubs constantly overspend in free agency, and they have 10 winning season out of the last 25, and haven’t been to a World Series since 1945.
There’s my rant for the day. So, for those of you that are unhappy with the current state of payroll in the Twins organization, how would you have done things differently? What has Terry Ryan done wrong this off-season? And please don’t just say they need to trade Mauer.
Follow Twins Rubes on Twitter @twinsrubes.