Monday, November 21, 2011

Hot Stove Report: Doumit, Cuddyer, Kubel, Nathan

Doumit signs one-year deal with Twins
The Twins put another check mark on their offseason wish list over the weekend with the signing of catcher Ryan Doumit to a one-year $3 million deal. The former Pittsburgh Pirate is a versatile player who can play catcher, right field, and first base. He is also a switch hitter who can smack the ball decently from both sides of the plate and he ended 2011 with a .303/.353/.477 batting line. I see him as the cheap man's version of Michael Cuddyer for the versatility he can provide to the team.

One downside to the signing of Doumit is some of his defensive struggles behind the plate. Stopping balls in the dirt and wild pitches has not been one of his strong suits. There is a good chance he won't be behind the plate with Francisco Liriano on the mound throwing his slider in the dirt. Baseball Prospectus ranked him as the worst catcher in all of baseball at framing pitches. Ideally, he will be Mauer's back-up behind the plate and find his way into the line-up at 1B, DH, and RF on days that he is not catching.

New CBA could cut compensation for Cuddyer, Kubel 
MLB's new collective bargaining agreement is close to being finalized and the details of the new labor contract are starting to trickle out. Under the new system free agents are not as costly because of baseball changing some of the compensation rules for Type A and Type B free agents. Under the new system there will be less Type A free agents and Type B free agents will cease to exist. The Elias Sports rankings of free agents has been tossed out and the new list of players who are Type A is not yet known. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports discussed a little bit about the new system but any system where Matt Capps was a Type A free agent had some holes in it.

Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel are two of the free agents that could be offered arbitration by the team. Under the old system Cuddyer qualified as a Type A free agent and Kubel was a Type B free agent. The Official Elias Rankings had Cuddyer as the eleventh highest Type A free agent and the second highest outfielder. With that system out the window, it is hard to know how Cuddyer will be affected and Kubel will no longer bring a compensation pick to the Twins. If Cuddyer falls from the ranks of Type A free agent, there could be more teams interested in his services. The team he signs with would no longer have to surrender their first round pick to the Twins and that definitely increases his value on the open market.

Nathan unsure of return to Twins
After checking off shortstop and back-up catcher on their offseason wish list, the Twins could now turn to their attention to addressing the bullpen. The organization lost some good free agents from their bullpen during last offseason and they went into this year by trying to fill their bullpen with some internal options. The team needed some of these arms to step up and take on the roles filled by players like Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. In a season full of disappointment, it seemed the only bright spot in the bullpen was Glen Perkins' dominance in late inning situations.

One of the ways the Twins could address some of their bullpen needs would be by signing someone to fill the role of closer. The natural option for many fans of the organization would be to turn to the man who just set the team's all-time saves record, Joe Nathan. In a recent interview, Nathan said he has been in contact with the Twins and he is keeping them "in the loop." When asked if he had a feeling about a return to the team, he said, "Not right now- no hunches, no gut feeling."

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