It’s that time of year again. This years off season will be a very important one for the Minnesota Twins and a very challenging one. For those of you that haven’t done so already, I recommend heading over to the Twins Centric website and ordering the GM Handbook. In an earlier post; I took a guess that the Twins could be dealing with a payroll in the $105 million payroll number this year. I am going to base my blueprint off of that number.
Here is my 2011-2012 off season blueprint for the Twins:
1) Let Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Matt Capps leave as Free Agents.
Letting Matt Capps walk is a no-brainer but the decision to let Cuddyer and Kubel walk will be a tough one. Both are two of the top outfield free agents on the market and will get plenty of offers from outside the organization. The Twins don’t have much bargaining power and would have to overpay to resign either of them. The Twins do not have the luxury of handing out bad contracts right now so they need to stay away, it will not be a popular decision but it will be the right one.
These may not be the huge signings some Twins fans are hoping for but they definitely help the club out.
Barnes is a decent hitter with some pop but really helps out on the defensive side of the ball. He had a 1.5 defensive WAR last year which was 8th best of all position players in the National League. Having a solid defensive SS will help the Twins “pitch to contact” pitching staff, it also will provide some depth a a key position the Twins are lacking in.
Doumit provides the Twins with a solid back up option at catcher. A huge improvement over Drew Butera who was exposed in 2011 by pitchers because of too many at bats. Doumit is a much better hitter and would not get as badly exposed as Butera. He is the insurance policy the Twins need at catcher should Mauer miss time or have to play a good chunk of games at first base.
Signing Punto allows the Twins to send Nishioka to AAA and have a capable back-up infielder. Punto can play all over the infield allowing Valencia, Barnes and Casilla days off more than they would have been able to with last years replacements. Punto is a great defensive infielder and gets on base. Not to mention he is an obvious favorite of manager Ron Gardenhire. If Casilla struggles early, Punto may have a shot at the starting 2B job.
3) Sign Free Agent SP Mark Buehrle ($10 million)
No one on the market fits into the Twins rotation better than Buehrle. He eats innings, is a quick worker and pumps strikes. The Twins will easily be able to count on 200 innings from the veteran left hander which will put less strain on the bullpen this year. To me, this is a no-brainer.
4) Re sign Closer Joe Nathan ($6.5 million + $2 million buyout)
The Twins declined Joe Nathan’s 2012 option a couple of weeks ago which was to be expected. Nathan will have a couple of offers and is said to be looking at the Mets but I see him being brought back to Minnesota. Nathan had an impressive last couple months of the season and looks be close to returning to his pre-Tommy John form. I offer him a 2 year/$13 million contract and give him the closers spot back.
Nathan and Perkins will anchor the back end of the bullpen but it still needs some work. Duensing will move from the rotation and provide a solid left handed option in addition to Mijaris so the Twins need to focus on getting some right handed power arms. Dotel is a Type A but they will not lose their draft pick as it’s protected this year.
Zumaya is coming off an injury but I see no harm in offering a low contract and inviting him to Spring Training. If he is healthy and can contribute, this is a huge boost for the Twins bullpen.
Juan Cruz was awful with the Royals two years ago but posted some decent numbers last year with Tampa Bay. He has high walk totals but can still throw in the mid to high 90s and could come relatively cheap with all the options on the market.
6) Sign Free Agent OF Xavier Nady ($2,000,000)
Nady gives the Twins a right handed bat that will desperately be needed after the departure of Cuddyer. He also takes over and replaces Cuddyer in RF giving the Twins an outfield of Ben Revere, Denard Span and Xavier Nady. Nady is two years removed from back to back 25 home run seasons (2008 and 2009). I don’t expect him to return to that form especially when hitting in Target Field but he will bring a little bit of power. A verteran hitter who can reach Target Fields large out field gaps will help this lineup. He is not the best option on the market but will be a decent stop gap until some of the Twins young prospect outfielders are ready to come up.
After current contracts, arbitration raises and free agent signings I have the Twins payroll at $104,916,500. Just short of our $105,000,000 budget. Normally I would not see the Twins this active in free agency but I do think there are some capable replacements at a very good cost this year.
I don’t see the Twins being in the rumors for any of the big name free agents but do see them being very active to plug the many holes they have. What are your thoughts? Please feel free to comment below.