Minnesota Twins Face a Winter of Change in Free Agency

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Minnesota Twins Face a Winter of Change in Free Agency
Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
The Pavstache May Have Thrown His Last Pitch For Twins

The Minnesota Twins once again will be watching the fall classic at home. The good news is that they bought new 3D TV's.

So they have that going for them.

But just because they are done for 2010 doesn't mean it's time to be sitting around. There are many decisions to be made in the coming months. The Twins must decide on who to keep from their own crop of free agents, who they can target from other teams and possible trades they may be able to swing.

In 2010, the Minnesota Twins payroll eclipsed $100 million for the first time. They were in the top five teams in attendance (thank you Target Field), and had the second highest TV ratings in baseball, trailing only the St. Louis Cardinals.

It may seem odd, then, that we are going to have to slash some payroll, but it's true.

The most obvious area the Twins need to cut is in the bullpen. They have two closers in Joe Nathan and Matt Capps making a combined $20 million dollars if Capps goes into arbitration. Brian Fuentes made $9 million last season and is in free agency, While Jon Rauch made $2.9 million and is a free agent. 

I think Capps will be around to start 2011, but will be traded once Nathan can prove he is back.

Fuentes will be gone. Too pricey, and he wants to close in a bullpen full of closers. Additionally, Fuentes is a type B free agent, so the Twins could get a compensatory pick after the first round for him.

Rauch is gone too I believe. Again, another type B free Agent.

The biggest decision is on who to keep between relievers Jesse Crain and Matt Guerrier. Crain is a type B free agent, which could lead to more interest from other teams on him. Guerrier somehow is a type A free agent, and I have a tough time believing a team would give up a first-round pick to the Twins to sign him.

So I think Crain may be gone (with yet another sandwich pick in first round) and Guerrier is back. Anthony Slama and Carlos Gutierrez will need to step up and be big contributors for the Twins next year.  

Other decisions on the team need to be made on Carl Pavano and Orlando Hudson. Orlando Hudson is most definitely gone in my opinion. Alexi Casilla is sitting in waiting. Hudson also had the fortune of being labeled a type B free agent, so once again the Twins could receive another draft pick. (If you are counting, that is already four extra picks for the Twins).

Carl Pavano may be the most sought after pitcher in free agency this year (this is not including Cliff Lee, which is partially due to lack of team who can afford him). He will be a type A free agent, which could net the Twins two more first-round picks if he leaves.

Pavano will be pricey to re-sign. Probably somewhere in the $10 million-a-year range. This wouldn't be too bad, except Pavano is going to want three or four years, which I don't believe the Twins will be willing to risk. Mustache or no, I believe Pavano is gone too.

J.J. Hardy, Delmon Young and Francisco Liriano are all due raises through arbitration next season.

Liriano is definitely coming back. I expect the Twins to try and lock him up for up to three years this offseason.

Delmon Young will probably be on the roster next spring with a good raise (unless he is traded...more on that soon). J.J. Hardy had a rough year with injuries, and it showed on the field. For up to $7 million dollars next year, Hardy is not a viable option at this price. I would expect the Twins to either trade him, or non-tender him, making him a free agent.

Possible trades could get exceptionally interesting. The talk around the web is of a possible Zack Greinke trade. He is locked up for the next two years at $13 million a year, which is a relative bargain for an ace.

The Twins could be possible trade partners here. I would look for them to offer a package of Delmon Young, Kevin Slowey and possibly Aaron Hicks or Kyle Gibson. I would do it if Hicks were not included. Hicks will be our starting right-fielder starting in 2012 and hopefully for many years after.

To lose him would not be worth it, unless Greinke pitched the Twins to a World Series title over the next two years, which I don't believe he could. I think Young will be back and possibly traded next offseason, so the Twins can set their new outfield of Revere (in left), Span (in center) and Hicks (in right).

The Twins are among the best organizations in baseball in getting value for their dollar. I expect them to lose almost all these free agents in the coming months, and yet still compete in the American League.

Minnesota is one of the best teams in the league in scouting and development, so an extra three or four first-round draft picks could pay major dividends for years to come.

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