Uncertainty Over TV/Streaming Revenue Threatens Twins 2024 Payroll Ceiling

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Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins do not currently have a TV or streaming partner to broadcast their 2024 games, after the contract they previously had with Diamond Sports Group (Bally) expired along with the 2023 MLB regular season, a deal that paid the Twins out $60 million annually.

Broadcast revenue means a lot to MLB team budgets

TV/streaming revenue is a large chunk of a mid-market team’s yearly revenue. Most teams rely on their broadcast rights money, combined with ticket, concessions and in-stadium merchandise sales, just to break even on the year.

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That’s why making the playoffs, this fall, was such a big deal, after the Pohlads shelled out a franchise record $159.6 million in total 2023 player payroll (the $155M number below does not account for what Spotrac has labeled “Buried Minor League Salaries” but their actual payroll standing vs other teams is unaffected).

Generally speaking, ticket sales and other revenue generated from home playoff games goes directly into the pockets of MLB owners. Straight profit, homie. Ownership needed a payoff, after stretching a previously limited payroll budget to amounts the organization had never been comfortable spending in the past.

Revenue uncertainty could affect Twins 2024 payroll

But now, Twins fans are starving for more postseason victories, after experiencing a small amount of success this October. Revenue uncertainty, however, could get in the way of improving the roster, in order to achieve more playoff success. As President of Baseball Operations, Derek Falvey, has admitted.

“That’s the reality of our offseason. It’s not just for us. It’s for other clubs, too. That’s a piece of information we’re going to have to navigate. It’s a factor that there’s lack of clarity on TV revenue. That’s a fact, that’s no secret to anybody. That plays a role [in payroll decisions], just like all of our revenue sources play a role, to some degree.”

Derek Falvey (via The Athletic)

Most of the band is still together, but there are 2024 question marks that will play heavily into projected success next season and, because much of the 2023 roster is expected to return, a lot of their payroll is already locked up, even if it’s not technically on the books yet.

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How much money do the Minnesota Twins have to work with?

According to a recent deep dive into the Twins’ estimated 2024 payroll situation by insider, Aaron Gleeman (The Athletic), the Twins have anywhere from $110-$120 million theoretically allocated to the roster, as it stands entering the 2023-24 offseason.

That includes guaranteed and projected dollars, but not pending free agents… like 2023 Cy Young candidate, Sonny Gray. With the TV/streaming rights and revenue uncertainties hanging over the team’s offseason, a large financial commitment to the 2024 roster this offseason may be unrealistic expectations

“When the offseason begins, the Twins’ baseline payroll is between $110 million and $120 million. Assuming they’re planning to have a self-imposed payroll in line with this year’s $159 million — no sure thing given their expiring television contract and murly local broadcast revenue picture — that would leave between $40 million and $50 million to spend. But the TV situation looms large.”

Aaron Gleeman – The Athletic

If Gleeman’s figures are right (they always are), signing Sonny Gray to the $25-$30 million per season contract he’s worth, would, all by itself, put Minnesota’s 2024 projected payroll near their 2023 franchise-record setting number of $159.6 million.

Normally, I, along with most of “Twins Territory” would be well justified in demanding the Falvine and the Pohlads, not only bring Gray back, but capitalize on last summer’s momentum with an offseason aggressiveness that proves they’re ready to hang with some of the above-average payroll clubs around the league.

If a $175 million payroll can lift you from Wildcard winner to World Series contender, you do it, right? Well, maybe not, if you cannot find $60 million worth of yearly revenue that has usually come via a TV and streaming deal with Bally Sports that no longer exists.

Stay tuned… and read all of our Minnesota Twins blogs!

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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