2007 Minnesota Twins

Given their postseason berth, you wouldn’t expect Twins fans to be clamoring for a writeup on the ’07 club.  They have been, however, and I aim to please.

Terry Ryan’s contract obligations:

C – Joe Mauer – $0.4MM
C – Mike Redmond – $0.95MM
1B – Justin Morneau – $0.385MM
2B – Luis Castillo – $5.75MM
SS – Jason Bartlett – $0.38MM
3B – Nick Punto – $0.69MM
IF – Luis Rodriguez – $0.38MM
LF –
CF – Torii Hunter – $12MM option
RF – Michael Cuddyer – $1.3MM
OF – Lew Ford – $0.425MM
OF – Jason Tyner – $0.38MM
DH – Jason Kubel – $0.38MM

SP – Johan Santana – $12MM
SP – Carlos Silva – $4.35MM
SP – Boof Bonser – $0.38MM
SP – Matt Garza – $0.38MM
SP – Scott Baker – $0.38MM
SP – Glen Perkins – $0.38MM
SP – Kevin Slowey – $0.38MM
SP – J.D. Durbin – $0.38MM

RP – Joe Nathan – $5.25MM
RP – Juan Rincon – $0.7MM
RP – Dennys Reyes – $1MM
RP – Jesse Crain – $0.38MM
RP – Pat Neshek – $0.38MM
RP – Matt Guerrier – $0.38MM
RP – Willie Eyre – $0.38MM

SP – Francisco Liriano – $0.38MM

This is about $52MM worth of players, raises included.  The team entered ’06 with a $63MM payroll.

The big decision, of course, is Torii Hunter.  Declining the chance to have him for one year, $12MM is lunacy, and I don’t think that will happen.  Lately Hunter has said he’s looking to renegotiate for a four-year deal.  I think he stays and his recently play cemented it.

There’s this idea of beginning 2007 with Punto as the starting 3B.  I guess this is rationalized based on defensive abilities.  To be fair, the free agent market for third basemen stinks and the Twins won’t be winning the Aramis Ramirez bidding if he hits the market.  The usual trade candidates will surface: Mike Lowell, Hank Blalock.  Can’t see Joe Crede traded to a rival, though Morgan Ensberg, Adrian Beltre, or Dallas McPherson could be available.  Pretty sure we’ll see Punto at third on opening day though.

Rondell White‘s option for 2007 won’t vest, so the team will be in need of a left fielder, DH, or both.  Kubel may be able to fill the DH role.  Terry Ryan could bring White back at $2MM or so.  While he’ll be 35 next season, he’s been much better since returning from a demotion in July.  Other options, and names I keep recommending for various teams: Moises Alou, David Dellucci, and Frank CatalanottoLuis Gonzalez would probably do league average work, but he’d have to be convinced to play in Minnesota. 

The pitching rotation looks pretty well set: Santana and the Kids.  Even if Liriano goes down to injury, the #2-5 starters would be Bonser, Garza, Baker, and maybe Perkins.  There are some question marks but it still doesn’t justify a huge free agent expenditure.  Perhaps to hedge his best Ryan will spend some of his free $10-15MM on one mid-level guy.  That could be Miguel Batista, Cory Lidle, Jason Marquis, Jeff Suppan, Ramon Ortiz, Chan Ho Park, John Thomson, Jeff Weaver…the list goes on.  It makes sense to snag one.  I don’t see much need to tinker with the bullpen; the Twins know that homegrown talent is the way to go.

Overall I don’t see the Twins being too active this winter, just like any other offseason.  They’ll probably get one starter and a decent left fielder and call it good.  I can’t say I’d do much differently aside from the Punto thing.

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