What Remains of Twins Budget After Correa Signing?

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn – Minnesota Twins / Getty Images

Pending a physical, Carlos Correa is going to play for the Minnesota Twins in 2022, something my brain is still trying to wrap itself around. When he officially puts that TC hat on Wednesday and takes spring training swings in a Twins uniform, it might get easier. But I’m not so sure.

What’s the next move?

This is uncharted territory for Twins fans. Jim Pohlad will pay a record-breaking $35.1 million to Carlos Correa this summer, so he can be a one-year contracted killer. We can’t predict what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will do next because we haven’t been in a situation where the Minnesota Twins have bought their way into a summer of contention.

Sure, they paid Mauer back in the day, because they didn’t have a choice. Yes, they extended Byron Buxton this summer, only after he handed his future to them on a team-friendly, silver platter of negotiations. But both of those players were drafted and developed in-house, then expressed an unwavering willingness to stay, as long as the Twins paid them somewhere near their going rate on the open market.

Those situations were much much much different than what the Twins just did with Carlos Correa, who has an opt-out clause after both of the first two seasons in his 3-year deal. And insiders around the MLB expect Correa to exercise that option to leave (and collect an even bigger paycheck elsewhere) ASAP.

Summer of Dreams

That means Falvine has one season to make the magic happen. One season to make a playoff run. One season to make the Carlos Correa signing worth its money. Yet even with Correa in the middle of the lineup and infield, the Minnesota Twins roster is far from World Series quality. Before those conversations can even start, the Twins need to find at least one more front-end starting pitcher (via trade) and some backend bullpen help to go with some upper-echelon outfield depth.

But after signing Correa, how much money can Falvine possibly have left in their budget? According to Spotrac.com, the Minnesota Twins have a projected payroll of approximately $110 million for 2022. Baseball doesn’t have a salary cap so it’s difficult to know how high they’re willing to spend. But we can use some context clues to get a pretty good estimate.

It’s clear, looking at the last few years, that Minnesota’s player salary budget has been approximately $125 million. They sat within $5 million of that mark in 2019 and 2021 adjusted salaries. In 2020, they would have paid $148 million but the season was shortened to 60 games so they paid $56 million.

  • 2022: $109.8M
  • 2021: $120.1M
  • 2020: $55.7M ($148.6M)
  • 2019: $125.3M

Winning Budget for 2022

Given how seriously the Twins front office and its ownership committed to winning, with the Correa signing, it’s pretty safe to assume they’ll, at the least, match the $125 million in player salaries that they paid in 2019.

But if they’re really all in on 2022, there’s no reason to believe they wouldn’t go above and beyond that number, if presented with a great opportunity. So I’d set their ceiling at the $150 million mark that they would have hit in 2020, had they paid the players for a full season.

That means the 2022 Minnesota Twins should have anywhere from $15 to $40 million in their budget to improve this roster. Because most of the best free agents are gone, the upgrades will have to come via trade. When you have a lineup that includes Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Jorge Polanco… your aim should be the playoffs and beyond. So go pay for some pitching, Jim. Even if it takes prospects and money.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan