Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Former Twins Position Players Fill Free Agent Market

There are plenty of players looking for big free agent money and a half dozen position players on the market have spent time playing for the Minnesota Twins. There are some key pieces to former teams and some other role players mixed in the bunch. A couple of these players are coming off one of their best seasons as a professional but it looks like age might be a factor.

The Twins have a variety of needs this offseason, such as starting pitching and middle infield depth. With those being the main areas of concern, these players aren't exactly high on the club's want list. Some fans might be excited about the possibility of Torii Hunter or Jim Thome coming back to the Twin Cities to finish their careers. There are also some players on this list that shouldn't even get close to signing with the Twins for next year.

Here is a look back at how each of these former Twins fared in 2012 along with their odds of returning to the franchise they once called home.

Henry Blanco, C
Last season: The 40-year old catcher struggled during limited playing time as a back up to Miguel Montero in Arizona. He has only made appearances in 58 games over the course of the last two seasons. Blanco hasn't played in the American League since 2004 so it seems more likely for him to stay in the National League if he signs with a club.

Odds of Returning: The last time he played in over 100 games in a season was back with the Twins in 2004. He struggled to make consistent contact with the club and that was eight seasons ago. The Twins seem to be set in the catching department with Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit getting the majority of the starts behind the plate. Drew Butera and Chris Herrmann are available to fill a third catcher spot if needed.

Orlando Hudson, IF
Last season: He struggled in time split between the Padres and the White Sox.  As a 34-year old middle infielder with little offensive ability, it could be tough for him to find a job in 2013. Hudson got paid over $5 million last season to be a below average player. It was also the first time since his rookie year that he didn't appear in over 100 games.

Odds of Returning: His loud mouth and clubhouse presence got him booted out of town last time. He does fit one of the areas of need for the Twins so there is always a chance if he signed a very club friendly deal. Overall, the odds are not very likely and he could be forced to retire.

Torii Hunter, OF
Last season: At age 36, Hunter just had the best batting average of his career and he can still play decent in a corner outfield spot. He's on the downside of his career and it looks like the Angels want to get younger in the outfield. During his time in Los Angeles, he put together some decent offensive numbers that will be attractive to multiple teams.

Odds of Returning: The fans love him but he turned his back on the franchise when he went searching for a bigger contract in a bigger market. The Twins have too many outfielders at this point so adding an aging star on a multi-year contract doesn't seem likely. Most of the rumors have him heading to a big market club like New York or Boston so this could put the Twins out of the running.

A.J. Pierzynski, C
Last season: He knocked a career high 27 home runs and he helped to keep the White Sox in contention for most of the year. There are a lot of catching miles on his legs at this point. Since 2002, he has caught over 1000 innings in every season so it's hard to imagine that he has much left in his knees. His attitude has also caused some problems in the past.

Odds of Returning: He hasn't exactly been known as a great member of any clubhouse and the Twins got him out of town when they could. It also helped to have Mauer waiting to take over. It would be nice to have some more catching depth but Mauer and Doumit should have things under control for next year. In other words, not very good odds for a return trip to Minnesota.

Jim Thome, DH
Last season: There were pleny of injuries for Thome last year and his number of plate appearances dropped to the lowest point since the early years of his career. He made it back to the playoffs with the Orioles but they couldn't get him a ring. It was the first time since 2005 that he failed to reach the double-digit mark in home runs.

Odds of Returning: Thome wants a championship and it doesn't seem like the Twins will be fighting for the top spot next year. His relationship with the club and the manager were strong points when he was here. This could mean that he wants one last run through the American League and he did have his last great season in a TC uniform.

Delmon Young, OF/DH
Last season: He was the same old Delmon during the regular season but he turned in a monster postseason to help him during his first trip through free agency. Sporadic power and horrendous defense are his trademarks. His defense could continue to be a liability so he might need more time at DH in the future.

Odds of Returning: There are more than enough outfielders currently on the roster. Young is the youngest names on this list so there could still be hope for him to turn it around. That still doesn't seem extremely likely after what he has shown over the course of his career. He also will need plenty of time at DH and the Twins already have Mauer, Doumit, and others to fill that spot.

Most of these men are on the downside of their career or they are close to retiring. It might be nice to see some of them in a Twins uniform again but it would be tough to swallow if some of these other players made it back to Minnesota.

Tomorrow I will look at the former Twins pitchers on the free agent market. Until then, do you think any of these position players will end up back in Minnesota? Who has the best chance of putting on a Twins uniform in 2013?

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