Monday, December 5, 2011
Twins have plenty on Winter Meeting wish-list
Coming off of a 99-loss season, the Twins had many holes to fill on their roster. Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, and Matt Capps are the three free agents off of last year's roster who have yet to sign with a team for 2012. Joe Nathan has already left the Twins to be a member of the Texas Rangers. This means there is at least one hole to fill in the bullpen and there could be three other spots to fill by the time the team heads to Fort Myers for Spring Training.
The team got a jump on their roster creation for next season with the early offseason signings of Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit. Carroll should provide the team with better infield defense and he can be used at multiple positions around the diamond. Doumit will serve as the back-up catcher to Joe Mauer but he can also be used in right field, designated hitter, and first base.
Even with these two signings, there are still things on the Twins wish-list as the Winter Meetings begin. Here is a look at that Winter Meeting wish-list and it comes with one disclaimer. This list is in no particular order because if the team signs one free agent, the rest of the moves the club makes could have to change.
1. Find a closer: The team has committed to letting Glen Perkins serve his important role as the set-up man. This means the team could have to look outside of the organization for a closer. Most of the recent talk has been around the idea of bringing back Capps to serve as the ninth inning man. In recent interviews, both Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson had nothing but praise for Capps and the way he battled through injury last year. Other rumors have swirled about the Twins in talks with the Rockies for a swap of Carl Pavano for Huston Street. There are still other names on the free agent market but most of the proven closers have gotten a lot of money this offseason and they could be out of the Twins price range.
2. Sign an outfielder: As mentioned above, the Twins have two important parts of their outfield from the last few seasons that have entered the free agent market. The team has continued to be in talks with both Cuddyer and Kubel but it is hard to know how the market will shape for these two players. The Twins have already committed nearly $90 million to next years payroll and that could leave around $10 million left in the bank. It would take all of that money to sign Cuddyer which would tie up a lot of the other moves the Twins need to make. It might be a tough squeeze to keep Cuddyer and fill out the rest of the roster with respectable players. The draft picks the Twins would get for both Cuddyer and Kubel would also look nice for a team trying to rebuild their farm system.
3. Add pitching staff depth: The Twins have plenty of pitchers on the staff with starting experience but the club is still not sure what they will get from some of their arms. Brian Duensing will most likely find himself back in the bullpen. That leaves Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey as the men who would currently compose the starting rotation.
Recent reports have the Twins interested in adding Jeff Francis and Edwin Jackson. Both names will not make Twins fans jump for joy but adding depth is a key to a staff that saw a lot of injuries last season. Former Central Division foe, Mark Buehrle, has also been connected to rumors with the Twins but it sounds like the Marlins are now in the driver's seat to sign him. Bringing in another starter could mean the Twins have plans to either trade or non-tender one of the other players on their current starting staff. There could also be a chance that Liriano, Blackburn, or Slowey is asked to pitch out of the bullpen.
Over the course of the next week, the rest of the Twins roster could start to take shape. Cuddyer could end up signing somewhere, the Twins might know who will be closing, and fans might know who makes up the starting rotation.
There will be plenty to keep Terry Ryan and his associates busy during their time in Dallas at the Winter Meetings.