An 83-79 season was not enough to get the Minnesota Twins to the postseason this year, but does provide a solid baseline for the rebuilding club to build from. The Twins were in the thick of the race for most of the season, but came up three games short of grabbing the second Wild Card spot in the American League.
After taking a step forward in 2015, here is a look at what is in store for Minnesota as 2016 approaches:
Where they stand: 2016 Twins payroll obligations
Most of the Twins' major payroll commitments are to veterans in their starting rotation. They owe $13.5 million to Ervin Santana and $12 million to Ricky Nolasco in addition to the $9.2 million they will be paying Phil Hughes.
However, Minnesota's largest payroll obligation in the $23 million they will be paying first baseman and Minnesota native Joe Mauer who hit .265/.338/.380 with 10 home runs in 2015. Additionally, they owe $6 million to catcher Kurt Suzuki and $3 million to second baseman Brian Dozier.
Pending free agents
The most notable free agent leaving the Twins is outfielder Torii Hunter, who announced his retirement earlier this week. In addition to Hunter, starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey will be hitting the free agent market, as will relievers Neal Cotts, Brian Duensing and Blaine Boyer. Aside from that group, the Twins will likely remain intact going into 2016.
The Twins graduated three key prospects this season in third baseman Miguel Sano, outfielder Eddie Rosario and pitcher Trevor May. Even losing those three, Minnesota has six prospects in MLB Pipeline's latest top 100 list, including outfielder Byron Buxton, who sits at No. 1. The 21-year-old made his big league debut this season, hitting .209/.250/.326 in 129 plate appearances, coming up just short of losing his rookie eligibility. He should be a major contributor for the Twins in 2016.
Where do the Twins go from here?
The Twins will likely return mostly intact for 2016 with the addition of Buxton into the every day lineup. If their veteran pitchers are consistent, they could make a rise in 2016 akin to what the Astros and Cubs pulled off in 2015 and threaten the Royals in the AL Central.