How one night can change the entire off-season. When it seemed almost nothing would happen, the Minnesota Twins have come out of nowhere, and according to reports late last night, signed Joe Crede and made an additional offer to the top reliever on the board, Juan Cruz.
If the Crede deal is finalized today, it could change the way the team sets up next season, including the infield, bench, and maybe even the bullpen.
Meanwhile, if Cruz agrees to a deal, and the Twins agree to players with the D-Backs in a sign-and-trade (which is still questionable at this point), the bullpen could become a little jammed, a problem the Twins would probably enjoy.
Lets take a look at what all of this means, starting with Juan Cruz.
** First of all, who do the Twins give up if they can agree to a contract with Cruz? The D-Backs would receive a first-round pick and a sandwich pick if he was signed outright. However, Cruz has threatened to sit out until after the draft, a move that would cost the D-Backs any type compensation, both players and picks.
** One option would be Philip Humber. If the Twins get Cruz, Humber might have an even tougher time of making the team. Ayala is there and a few others might be in front of him as well. Another guy could be Matt Macri. If the Crede deal goes through, he'd be the likely guy waived to make room.
** Another question is who fills the bullpen? There is a chance the Twins could go with an 11-man staff, and that would jam things even more. Assuming Nathan, Guerrier, Crain, Breslow, and then Cruz would be total locks, an 11-man staff would allow for just one more. Not knowing who would be traded to acquire Cruz, the Twins would have Ayala as the favorite for the spot along with Bonser, Humber, Dickey, and Mijares competing.
As for Crede...
** Ron Gardenhire mentioned to the media yesterday that if the Twins sign someone, as mentioned before, the team could go with an 11-man pitching staff to keep Buscher and Harris on the bench. This might tighten the bullpen race, and leave both Bonser and Humber on the street and eventually with another team.
** Speaking of Buscher and Harris, what happens to them? Both would likely make the team. Buscher would probably receive at-bats when Crede needs days off or as a lefty from time to time. Harris could fill in at third if needed, short, and even second, which would provide him with plenty of playing time. Would Tolbert be sent to triple-A?
** Crede in the lineup, for 140 games, or even more, would add tremendous protection to Morneau and Mauer. Hunter didn't really provide it much the year before as the lineup fluctuated quite a bit. If Crede could stay off the disabled list and do what he did last season, the move could put the lineup over the top.
** What's the money? It's obvious that it won't be the base of $7 million plus up to $11 million in total money after incentives. The Twins haven't been willing to go there, and it appears that Crede has settled. So, is it close to $5 million with up to $8 million total in incentives?
There will be much more as the deal is (hopefully) finalized, and as information on Juan Cruz potentially agreeing to a deal is out. The Twins would have 48 hours after an agreement to do a trade.