Minnesota has long been one of MLB’s most successful “small-market” or “small-payroll” teams, making the playoffs five times from 2002-2009 despite consistently ranking among the bottom third in money spent.
In their final two Metrodome seasons–2008 and 2009–the Twins won 87 and 88 games, made it to the postseason once and narrowly missed a second trip by losing a one-game playoff, and did so with payrolls of $57 million and $65 million that ranked 25th and 24th in MLB.
That all changed this season, as the Twins moved into Target Field and increased their payroll to $101 million, which ranked 10th in MLB and set a franchise record by over $25 million. And according to team president Dave St. Peter, thanks to better-than-expected revenue from the new ballpark the Twins are planning to up their payroll even further in 2011:
The payroll is going to go up. We don’t take it for granted. We’re all tremendously appreciative of the support but we also know we need to keep moving forward. We need to keep moving forward on the field, and frankly, we need to keep doing everything possible to make Target Field the best ballpark it can be.
Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune notes that the players under team control for 2011 figure to cost about $105 million and the Twins also have plenty of holes to fill, so even another bump in payroll won’t suddenly give general manager Bill Smith and company much money to throw around. However, a bump to, say, $115 million would put them in some rarefied company, as only the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, Mets, Phillies, and Tigers had Opening Day payrolls that high in 2010.
Not only have the Twins ceased being one of the small-payroll teams, they’re on the verge of becoming one of the big-payroll teams. As a lifelong Twins fan that’s going to take some getting used to.
CC Sabathia‘s contract is set to expire this offseason, but for the long-tenured left-hander, nowhere feels more like home than New York. “I want to see this through,” Sabathia told reporters after a devastating Game 7 loss in the ALCS. “This is where I want to play.” Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman spoke warmly of the veteran starter, but would make no public guarantees that he’d return to the team next spring.
Sabathia, 37, just topped off his 17th season in the big leagues and his eighth career postseason run. He went 14-5 in 27 starts and put up a 3.69 ERA, 3.0 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 148 2/3 innings, good for 1.9 fWAR. He looked solid in the playoffs, too, propelling the team to a much-needed win in Game 5 of the ALDS and returning in the Championship Series with six scoreless innings in Game 3. His season ended on a sour note during Game 7, however. He lasted just 3 1/3 innings against a dynamic Astros’ offense, allowing one run on five hits and three walks and failing to record a single strikeout for the first time in 23 career postseason appearances.
Heading into the 2017 offseason, Sabathia finally arrived at the end of his seven-year, $161 million deal with the Yankees. While he’s repeatedly expressed a desire to keep pitching, despite rumors that his career might be on the rocks following the diagnosis of a troublesome degenerative knee condition, the decision isn’t his alone to make. Brian Cashman will also be seeking an extension with the Yankees this winter, so it’s difficult to say which impending free agents the club will try to retain — and Sabathia’s name isn’t the only one on that list. If it were up to skipper Joe Girardi, who is awaiting a decision on his own future with the organization, the decision would be a no-brainer. From MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
CC will always be special to me because of what he stands for and the great player that he is, the great man that he is,” Girardi said. “The wonderful teammate that he is. How he pulls a team together. He’s as good as I’ve ever been around when it comes to a clubhouse guy, a guy that will take the ball when you’re on a losing streak or that you can count on, and knowing that it could be the possible last time.