With inconsistency taking a death-grip over Minnesota’s starting rotation this year, the Twins are rumored to have been interested in just about every pitcher on the market. Unquestionably, Dan Haren and Roy Oswalt are the two most coveted trade targets this season, and the Twins would no doubt love to bring in some pitching help.

Rumors are one thing; feasibility is a whole different animal.

Adding a player like Oswalt or Haren would almost certainly tack a few extra wins onto Minnesota’s record, which would significantly increase the Twins’ playoff chances. But could Minnesota commit to a large contract without crippling the team for the next five years?


Pardon the ambiguity, but there is a way to take on an expensive contract without going bankrupt. But first, here are a few points that need to be understood:


  • Roy Oswalt is not a realistic option for Minnesota. Not only does the 32-year-old Mississippi native seem to be positioning himself for a trade to St. Louis, but his salary is significantly higher and more unreasonable than Haren’s. The Twins wouldn’t be able to afford one year of Oswalt, even if Houston contributed a few million.
  • If Minnesota were to acquire Haren, they could trade him again if they found themselves unable to keep up with the right-hander’s increasing salary. The prospects they receive in return may not equal the ones they give to Arizona, but the added wins would mostly offset the small hit in both the farm system and payroll.
The Twins’ payroll is already well beyond what many thought possible. I don’t have any idea how well Target Field is performing from a revenue-generating standpoint, but even if you assume that Minnesota will increase their payroll from this season you still need to account for some often-overlooked expenses, most notably Joe Mauer’s $10.5 million raise next year.
Mauer, Morneau, Cuddyer, Kubel, Nathan, and Punto are due to receive a combined $70 million in 2011. Young and Liriano will both demand large arbitration increases, and both Baker and Blackburn are slated to receive multiple millions. Add it all up and you find yourself fiscally stretched.
I won’t pretend to know if the Twins are prepared or willing to throw an extra $8-10 million into the player payroll department next season. As a fan of the team, I can’t expect a significant increase. From a fan’s perspective, the Pohlads would ideally take on a large contract, push for the playoffs, and solve financial problems later. As much as I’d like to think the Pohlad family values a World Series run as much as I do, the Minnesota Twins are a money-making entity. The bottom line is considered in all decisions.
If you were tasked with making expensive decisions, would you pay $10 million for a 10 percent increase in playoff probability and a chance to display loyalty to your fan base?


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