The Minnesota Twins pursuit of impact pitching has continued this offseason and through the first couple weeks of the hot stove season, there appears to be a lead in which direction they want to go.
The Twins have already spoken with Zack Wheeler's representatives on coming to Minnesota and earlier this week, according to KSTP-TV's Darren Wolfson, who said the Twins could finalize the deal right now with a five-year, $84 million deal.
That sounds like great news right? Well, there happens to be an obstacle and unlike popular opinion, it has nothing to do with the "cheap Pohlads" stereotype. Instead, it might have to do with the state's income tax.
The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal pointed this out in his latest news and notes article (subscription required) and stated that if someone were to sign to play in Minnesota, they would have to give up a substantial amount back to the state.
"The Twins, aggressively exploring the market for rotation help, would love to sign a starter along the lines one of Wheeler, Madison Bumgarner or Hyun-Jin Ryu. The high income tax rate in Minnesota, though, could present something of an obstacle. The 9.85 percent rate in Minnesota is second only to California’s 13.3 percent (New York’s rate is higher than Minnesota’s when combining city and state rates, but most players live outside the city). State income tax rate usually is not a primary consideration for free agents, but in certain cases the best gross deal might not be the best net deal, complicating the decision."
Using Wheeler's rumored demands as a baseline, Wheeler would have to give back roughly $8.2 million to the government over the span of that deal. Mix in whatever he would owe Uncle Sam and the $84 million written in the deal may not seem like as much as it appears to be.
Then again, California's income tax hasn't stopped the Los Angeles Dodgers from being one of the biggest spenders in baseball on a yearly basis, nor has it stopped the San Diego Padres from signing Manny Machado last offseason and reportedly being in the hunt for top-line pitchers, including Wheeler, this year.
The bottom line is that while it appears that professional athletes are just like us and want to keep as much money in their paychecks as possible, so we'll see if state law lowers Minnesota's chances of landing a stud free agent.