Today Maury Brown put an article out at Forbes that illustrated some of the economic impact across baseball in relation to a pandemic shortened 2020 season. While the league as a whole spent roughly $2.5B less on salaries, the per game adjustments note a step forward. The Twins can and need to afford a similar path in the year ahead.
In 2019 $2,472,194,292 more dollars were spent on payrolls across baseball. Obviously, there were also 102 more games played that season. Adjusting the calendar to be in line with what we experienced during 2020 however, a 12% increase in player salaries would’ve been realized.
On the Twins front, Minnesota paid out $52,627,942 in salaries during the 2020 season. That was good enough for 19th in baseball. They paid a total of $125,205,980 in 2019, and that comes out to an adjusted amount of $46,372,585. It makes sense that the Pohlad family would push more finances into roster construction during an open window and following a length period of cost savings, but it’s glad to see that come to fruition.
After going big on Josh Donaldson to the tune of a four-year deal worth at least $100 million, Minnesota again finds themselves in a position to spend. Although payroll positioning isn’t indicative of talent of future finish (just ask the Tampa Bay Rays), stockpiling more assets is hardly a bad practice. Coming off a second straight AL Central division title and looking to supplement an already strong core around a star like Donaldson, another step up makes plenty of sense.
Despite the down revenues for the league as a whole in 2020, the reality is that Scott Boras’ assessment is likely factual. Teams didn’t actually lose money as much as they simply didn’t take in typical profits. Coming off years of record growth financially however, that should hardly be the sole motivator, and especially not for organizations in the midst of prime competitive windows.
Minnesota has a respectable farm system and one that has both established depth while harboring some very high projected prospects at the top. Even Royce Lewis though shouldn’t be considered a cornerstone on a Major League team for the next one or two seasons. That’s a point in which most of the Twins core is looking into their 30’s while the big contract for Donaldson is a year from lapsing. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine can’t throw caution to the wind, but they’ve built a sustained winner, and now is time to continue adding pieces.
There have been rumblings about what the Twins plan to do at the shortstop position, and there’s no doubt they have holes in the starting rotation as it would currently be constructed. Minnesota is never going to be able to compete with big market clubs purely from an enticement factor but saving dollars doesn’t make much sense given the state of the competitive opportunity and the challenge Chicago will certainly present.
It’s good to see that even in a year with decreased revenues and unprecedented hurdles the Twins stepped up on the bottom line. Now they need to continue to weather the storm and do it again for 2021.