MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger covered a few hot stove topics in his recent Twins mailbag piece, and here are some of the highlights….
- GM Bill Smith "has indicated the club is going to try to sign at least one of" free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel. The latest Elias rankings show Cuddyer is a Type A free agent and Kubel is a Type B, so Cuddyer could net the Twins an extra draft pick if they let him walk.
- There has been no talk of reducing the Twins' $113MM payroll from last season. In his look at the team's arbitration-eligible players, MLBTR's Tim Dierkes speculated that Minnesota could have up to $30MM to spend this winter if it planned to stay at the $113MM figure. That would be more than enough to sign both Kubel and Cuddyer if the team so desired.
- That money could also be spent on a high-profile free agent, though Bollinger notes that isn't the Twins' style. He believes that besides Kubel or Cuddyer, the club will focus on infield depth and rebuilding the bullpen.
- Joe Nathan "has expressed a willingness to remain with the organization" and we heard last week that the Twins were also interested in keeping Nathan in the fold. This would likely require signing Nathan to a new free agent contract, since the Twins will almost surely decline Nathan's $12MM option for 2012.
- Minnesota will probably keep Tsuyoshi Nishioka and have him compete with Trevor Plouffe for the shortstop job next season. Bollinger notes that Nishioka's experience at both short and second base would make him a good candidate as a utilityman.