Offseason Outlook: Minnesota Twins

The Twins are next in our Offseason Outlook series.  Their likely commitments for 2009:

C – Joe Mauer – $10.5MM
C – Mike Redmond – $950K (club option)
1B – Justin Morneau – $10.6MM
2B – Alexi Casilla – $400K
SS – Brendan Harris – $432K
3B – Brian Buscher – $400K
IF – Matt Tolbert – $400K
IF –
LF – Delmon Young – $700K
CF – Denard Span – $400K
RF – Michael Cuddyer – $6.75MM
OF – Carlos Gomez – $400K
DH – Jason Kubel – $1.3MM+

SP – Scott Baker – $423K
SP – Francisco Liriano – $400K
SP – Kevin Slowey – $400K
SP – Nick Blackburn – $400K
SP – Glen Perkins – $400K

RP – Joe Nathan – $11.25MM
RP – Jesse Crain – $1.7MM
RP – Matt Guerrier – $950K+
RP – Pat Neshek – $435K
RP – Boof Bonser – $433K
RP – Craig Breslow – $400K
RP – Jose Mijares – $400K

Other commitments: Mike Lamb – $3MM

That’s about $54MM committed, plus arbitration raises for Kubel and Guerrier.  The Twins were at about $57MM heading into the season, so they won’t have much to spend unless they raise payroll.  Payroll had been rising by more than 10% a year until ’08.  Maybe the Twins will return to the $70MM range.

The Twins could use more power in the lineup; third base is the most reasonable spot to upgrade.  The Twins could consider acquiring Hank Blalock (if he can play third), Melvin Mora, Edwin Encarnacion, Casey Blake, Joe Crede, Adrian Beltre, or Garrett Atkins.  Beltre is the best target, given his defensive prowess.  We’ll see whether the new Mariners GM has a reasonable asking price for one year of Beltre (ie, no one from the current Twins’ rotation).

Shortstop is another need, and the Twins may be targeting free agent Orlando Cabrera.  As I’ve said, I’d rather see them go for broke and sign Rafael Furcal.  More likely, they will just bring Nick Punto back.  But imagine Furcal and Beltre in ’09 instead of Buscher, Mike Lamb, Harris, Punto, and Adam Everett on the left side of the infield.  It’d be a huge improvement, but the Twins would have to be able to handle paying $25MM for their combined salary. 

I’d leave the pitching staff alone, as the rotation will ideally feature more Baker, Slowey, Perkins, and Liriano and no Livan Hernandez/Boof Bonser.  Bonser could even have positive trade value.

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