All of the Twins news coming out of the Winter Meetings on Monday surrounded one player, Tsuyoshi Nishioka. In yesterday's post I wrote about the Twins Checklist for the Winter Meetings. The first item on my list was to decide on the starting infield. Nishioka is a piece that could fit into the Twins infield for the foreseeable future.
The Twins met with Nishioka's agent, Rick Thurman, on Monday. There are multiple reports that have come out of that meeting. The first report states that the Twins are looking at two or three year deal that would be in the neighborhood of $6 to $12 million. The second report has the Twins offering him a three year contract that could be from $9 to $10 million.
By getting a deal finalized with Nishioka the rest of the infield picture could become a little clearer. One route the Twins could follow would be to seriously listen to offers for JJ Hardy. The Twins have holes that need to be filled in the bullpen and starting rotation. A Hardy trade could fill one of these holes.
I feel that Hardy is the Twins best option at shortstop for next season. They have Hardy at the extra low cost of $6 million. To trade him for relief help would be a waste of his talents. If he is included in a package to improve the starting rotation this could be a better move for the Twins. The problem is that there won't be a team jumping to offer a top-of-the-line starter for a shortstop that has been injury prone.
There might have been some bridges burned between the Twins and Hardy over the last couple weeks. He is only under control of the team for next season. At this point would the Twins want to offer him a long-term contract? Hardy has been getting asked about his situation with the Twins for the last couple weeks. Once the season starts there still could be questions for Hardy. Could he be traded at the mid-point of the season?
The Hardy situation will be an interesting one to watch during the rest of this offseason. But getting Nishioka signed is the first step in that equation.