Carlos Correa’s opt-out frees up $35M for Twins’ 2023 payroll. Now what?

The Twins’ payroll last year was in the $140 million to $150 million range last season, the most in franchise history.

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Minnesota Twins
Minnesota Twins right fielder Max Kepler hits a single during the fourth inning against the Colorado Rockies on June 24, 2022 at Target Field in Minnepolis. Kepler is under contract for 2023, but could be a trade contender to free up more salary space.
Jordan Johnson / USA Today Sports
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ST. PAUL -- When Carlos Correa opted out of the final two years of his contract, it freed up $35.1 million toward the Minnesota Twins’ 2023 payroll. It also left the Twins in need of a shortstop.

In addition to Correa opting out, the Twins also announced Monday that Miguel Sano, Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer have been bought out and that they picked up their club option on starting pitcher Sonny Gray.

By subtracting those four contracts — the Twins could still try to re-sign Correa to a long-term deal to fill their shortstop need — as well as those of their now-free agents, the Twins have plenty of payroll flexibility this offseason and not a lot of glaring needs as the front office works to reshape the roster.

Carlos Correa

When asked at the beginning of the offseason just days after the season ended about their payroll, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said he had full belief that the front office would have “flexibility if the right opportunity presents for something we feel as a baseball group is the right investment at that time.” He also said at that time that he hadn’t heard that a decline in attendance would affect payroll.

So, if the Twins’ payroll was similar to last year’s — or potentially slightly higher — how much room would they have to work with this offseason?


The Twins’ payroll last year was in the $140 million to $150 million range last season, the most in franchise history.

Currently, they have Byron Buxton, Gray, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Kenta Maeda and Randy Dobnak returning on guaranteed deals. That group totals just under $50 million as a baseline, though there are bonuses baked into those deals that could ultimately drive them higher. Kepler, in the final year of his deal, could potentially be trade bait with a group of younger outfielders angling for playing time.


Then there’s a group of players who are arbitration-eligible. That group includes 11 players, some who are locks to return — like Luis Arraez and Tyler Mahle — and others whose status is more of a question mark — Gio Urshela and Emilio Pagan among them.

Should the Twins tender all of them a contract, that group would be earning just shy of $40 million, per MLB Trade Rumors’ projections. Then again, it’s unlikely the Twins bring all of them back, which would drive that number lower. Pagan feels unlikely to return at his projected salary, and Urshela, for example, is expected at a pay increase to $9.2 million, the highest of the group. The Twins could instead decide to non-tender him and turn the position over to Jose Miranda.

Shedding both Urshela and Kepler’s salaries could leave the Twins with around an extra $18 million or so to toy around with. But for this exercise, if we assume the Twins tender contracts to all arbitration-eligible players even if they likely won’t, the payroll would be around $85-90 million for 16 roster spots (17 players — Dobnak is currently in the minors).

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Cleveland Guardians
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Gary Sanchez (24) celebrates his three run home run with third baseman Gio Urshela (15) in the second inning against the Cleveland Guardians on Monday, June 27, 2022, at Progressive Field in Cleveland. Both Sanchez and Urshela may not be back with the Twins in 2023.
David Richard / USA Today Sports

Next year’s minimum salary is $720,000, though there will be pre-arbitration players, like catcher Ryan Jeffers or Joe Ryan, for example, who will earn a bump on that. If, for exercise’s sake, the roster was filled out by 10 guys making league minimum or close to it, that’s another $7.2 million at the least.

It won’t be filled out by only players making the minimum, of course, because the Twins will make offseason additions. Adding up what they have on the books currently, it looks like they should have plenty of flexibility and purchasing power if they’re planning on getting near $140 million again.

With Correa gone and Royce Lewis injured — he will miss the first part of the season after tearing his right anterior cruciate ligament for the second time — the Twins will need to make a move for a shortstop. There are plenty of stars at the high-end of the market — Correa, Trea Turner and Dansby Swanson among them — or the Twins could instead opt for a cheaper option on a bridge deal.


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While the Twins have plenty of starting options that they feel comfortable with — Gray, Mahle, Maeda, Ryan and Bailey Ober among them — and more depth in that area than in recent years, they would also have the money to bring in an ace-caliber starter, if they chose to spend it that way, though this front office hasn’t spent heavily on free agent pitchers in the past.

They’ll need another catcher to pair with Jeffers with both Gary Sanchez and Sandy Leon hitting free agency, and could decide they want another right-handed hitting outfielder with so many of their corner options — Kepler, Nick Gordon, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner — being left-handed hitters. They could make a move or two to fortify the bullpen — a right-handed reliever is likely a greater need with lefties Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran in the mix.

But besides shortstop, the Twins enter the offseason with fewer obvious needs than in recent years past and plenty of money to make improvements.


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