Updated: October 13th, 2010 10:18pm
Roster decisions loom beyond the $90 million-plus committed for 2011

Roster decisions loom beyond the $90 million-plus committed for 2011

by Phil Mackey
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After a disappointing end to the 2010 season, the Minnesota Twins will soon turn their attention toward shaping the roster for 2011 -- a difficult task, considering the team has already committed over $90 million prior to free agency and arbitration.

We'll dive into the needs and roster projections later, but for now here's a snapshot at what the Twins' financial commitments look like heading into the offseason:

Under contract (2011 salaries)
C Joe Mauer - $23 million
1B Justin Morneau - $15 million
RHP Joe Nathan - $11.25 million
OF Michael Cuddyer - $10.5 million
OF Jason Kubel - $5.25 million*
INF Nick Punto - $500,000**
RHP Scott Baker - $5 million
RHP Nick Blackburn - $3 million
INF Brendan Harris - $1.75 million
OF Denard Span - $1 million

Total: $76.25 million

* Kubel's 2011 salary is a club option with a $350,000 buyout. The Twins are likely to exercise that option.
** Punto has a $5 million club option with a $500,000 buyout. The Twins are unlikely to exercise that option.

Team control (projected 2011 salaries range from $400,000 to $600,000)
INF Matt Tolbert
LHP Jose Mijares
LHP Brian Duensing
3B Danny Valencia
C Jose Morales
RHP Alex Burnett
RHP Anthony Slama
C Drew Butera
INF Trevor Plouffe

Projected total: Approximately $4 million

Arbitration eligible (2010 salaries)
SS J.J. Hardy - $5.1 million
RHP Matt Capps - $3.5 million
OF Delmon Young - $2.6 million
LHP Francisco Liriano - $1.6 million
RHP Pat Neshek - $625,000
RHP Kevin Slowey - $470,000
INF Alexi Casilla - $437,500
LHP Glen Perkins - undisclosed

Total before arbitration salary increases: $14.33 million

Clay Condrey, who sat out the entire season with elbow troubles, is obviously highly unlikely to be offered arbitration. Perkins and Neshek could be question marks as well, although it makes sense to give Neshek a chance to prove himself after being one more year removed from Tommy John surgery.

Beyond that, the Twins have a huge decision to make on Hardy, who could command $7 million in arbitration, despite missing large chunks of time due to injury. In reality, there aren't many serviceable shortstops floating around, and the Twins don't have anybody in their system to step in as a starter.

Capps, Young and Liriano all had career seasons, and all three of them will see significant pay increases as well. The Twins are likely to explore long-term deals with both Young and Liriano.

When healthy, Hardy was solid -- he played very good defense and posted what would have been the third-highest OPS (.714) of any American League shortstop.

Approximate salary commitment before arbitration and free agency: $94.6 million

Free Agents (2010 salaries)
RHP Carl Pavano - $7 million
LHP Brian Fuentes - $9 million
RHP Matt Guerrier - $3.15 million
2B Orlando Hudson - $5 million
RHP Jon Rauch - $2.9 million
RHP Jesse Crain - $2 million
DH Jim Thome - $1.5 million
LHP Randy Flores - $650,000
LHP Ron Mahay - undisclosed
OF Jason Repko - undisclosed

Pavano and Thome are the two heavy hitters here. By throwing 220+ serviceable innings, Pavano is likely worth between $15-18 million over two years, and it wouldn't be surprising if somebody offered him a three-year deal. The Twins will have to decide if a Pavano-less rotation can still get the job done.

Thome, because of his age and limitations, is still unlikely to receive more than a one-year offer, but it's entirely possible someone could bump his salary up to the $3 million range. If Morneau returns, Thome's playing time would decrease considerably, and he'd be slotted back into a bench-hitter role.

Mahay, Flores, Rauch and Fuentes are likely the only four players on this list who are near-locks to not wear a Twins uniform in 2011. Fuentes showed enough in the second half of the season to warrant a closer job somewhere, and the Twins simply can't risk offering him arbitration. Nor are they likely to offer a multi-year deal.

Crain and Guerrier have been mainstays in manager Ron Gardenhire's bullpen for the last six years, so they remain high-priority targets to re-sign.

Despite providing solid production at second base, at $5 million Hudson will likely be on the lookout for his fourth team in four years. If the Twins feel like they can patchwork second base with Casilla and others, they'd probably lean toward allocating Hudson's money elsewhere.

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.
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