Casey Blake's long and winding road through baseball might be coming full circle.
According to a number of sources, the Twins are preparing an offer to Blake that would bring the veteran third baseman back the Metrodome, where he spent 29 games over the course of three seasons.
Blake is reportedly looking for a three year offer and will likely get a raise from the 6.1 million dollars he earned last year. Neither the length of the contract, nor the amount Blake will receive should raise eyebrows; the deal itself is fairly unremarkable, but it raises some interesting questions.
Bob Warja asked me a few months ago what signing Adrian Beltre would accomplish, since he would be a one year player and then would bolt during free agency. If this team is looking long-term, why are they trying a short-term solution?
While Blake would be locked in for longer than Beltre, he is far from a long-term solution. So, the question is: Are the Twins reloading for the future or trying to win for now?
After mulling the question over every way it can be mulled, its time for an answer: I don't know, and sadly, neither do the Twins.
Casey Blake is a perfect fit for the Twins' 'are-we-in-or-are-we-rebuilding' mentality. He'll be cheap enough to be benched if Luke Hughes or Danny Valencia suddenly start raking and yet will never be the piece that kills a good team. He's decidedly decent, both offensively and defensively, which is an upgrade from the platoon the Twins trotted out last year.
Blake isn't the piece the Twins have been missing: a .270 hitter with 20-HR power is rarely the difference between making the playoffs and just missing them. He is, however, good enough to be the third baseman on a playoff team that has its act together otherwise. The Twins have most of their positions locked up.
While he isn't nearly as sexy a player as Adrian Beltre is, Casey Blake makes good sense for the Twins. Signing Blake gives the Twins a few years to pick their spot; signing Beltre locks them into next year, which injuries can easily derail.
Danny Valencia has laid an egg in the Arizona Fall League, hitting a paltry .225 with almost no power, and Luke Hughes looks little better in Venezuela, so the future may not be as close as the Twins thought it was heading into the fall seasons, which makes Blake an even better solution.
The AL Central is very much up for grabs this year, and if the Twins can make a few savvy moves this offseason, they may well emerge as the favorite to start the season. Casey Blake won't wow anyone, but if he can provide the consistently solid play that has become his hallmark, he may help the Twins bridge the gap between winning now and preparing for an even better future in Target Field.
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