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Updated: September 30th, 2012 5:11pm
Do Twins have payroll to fix pitching? 'It's not money,' GM Ryan says

Do Twins have payroll to fix pitching? 'It's not money,' GM Ryan says

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- With the Minnesota Twins looking to add arms in the offseason, payroll flexibility will be a topic of conversation.

General manager Terry Ryan doesn't think it should be.

"(Payroll) won't be an issue," Ryan said Sunday. "I don't know what the number will be, but I do know in this business, that 90-100-113 million is plenty, where we've been for the last three or four years. All you've got to do is look at the teams that are going to qualify for postseason, a couple of them are at 60 or 70 (million). That's not an issue. ...

"It's not money. I keep saying that. It's not money."

Ryan has a point. As of Sunday, there were eight teams with opening-day payrolls under $100 million still in playoff contention or better, including the A's ($55 million), Rays ($64 million), Nationals ($81 million) and Orioles ($81 million). The Reds and Braves also opened the season with sub-$90 million payrolls.

Four of the last seven World Series winners have had payrolls south of $100 million.

But in the short-term, the Twins need pitching. And heading into this offseason, the team has approximately $73 million tied up in contracts for 2013, assuming Scott Baker's $9.25 million option is not picked up.

In the Twins' final year at the Metrodome, the opening-day team payroll sat at $65 million (24th in MLB). The payroll opened at $97 million in 2010 (11th), the first year at Target Field, $113 million in 2011 (9th) and $94 million this year (13th).

Next year's payroll has not been "cemented in," Ryan said. "It's always going to be fluid."

Sunday's announced crowd of 32,554 brought the Target Field season total to just under 2.8 million, which ranks as the fourth-highest attendance total in team history and 12th overall in Major League Baseball this year. That figure also means attendance has now dropped in two straight seasons -- down from 3.2 million in 2010 and 3.1 million last year.

It wouldn't be surprising to see the payroll settle in somewhere between $90 million and $95 million for 2013, but the Twins aren't likely to set an exact figure, at least publicly.

A $90 million to $95 million payroll would likely rank the Twins somewhere between 10th and 15th in the majors. Considering context -- market size, TV revenue, etc. -- that's about where they should rank.

It remains to be seen if the Pohlad family will push the payroll higher, as they did two offseasons ago, if the team appears ready to contend.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Scott Baker
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