Offseason Roundtable: Week One

AlexAnalyst INovember 18, 2008

The offseason is finally here, and with it comes the first year of the Offseason Roundtable. The weekly feature will include anywhere from three or more questions in each edition, and will be on a variety of subjects including the team's direction, minor league talk, and much more.

There are four different bloggers participating in the roundtable, and they include: myself (Twins Territory), Nick Nelson (Nick & Nick's Blog), Seth Stohs (Seth Speaks), and Jesse Lund (Twinkie Town)

Each edition will be found every Tuesday from now into the foreseeable future, and each week you’ll find the questions with each writer’s answers directly below.

Let’s get started...

Will any of the four free agents be back next season?
Seth: I guess I'd put the odds at: Eddie Guardado (0.01%), Adam Everett (4.8%), Dennys Reyes (35.6%) and Nick Punto (49.9%). The Neshek injury means that the Twins should probably offer arbitration to Dennys Reyes.
If he happened to accept, you're only stuck with a one-year contract. If he gets a big offer elsewhere, you get the pick. I would consider Punto at about 50/50 at this point. It all depends on if the Twins are able to acquire a solid 3B via a trade.

Nick: Given the facts that Craig Breslow proved himself to be a strong left-handed option out of the bullpen, and Dennys Reyes will likely command a relatively pricey multi-year deal as a free agent, I suspect the Twins will allow him to sign elsewhere.

Their best bet would be to offer him arbitration, which he will almost surely reject, so that they can receive a supplemental draft pick when he signs elsewhere. Adam Everett and Eddie Guardado will not be back. I think they'll probably re-sign Nick Punto unless they can acquire a more legitimate shortstop option via trade or free agency.

So, in summary, I think Punto is the most likely of the four to be retained, but I wouldn't be surprised if none of them are playing in a Twins' uniform in 2009.

Twins Territory: Both Adam Everett and Eddie Guardado are goners, but Dennys Reyes and Nick Punto at least have shots to return to Minnesota.

If I’m the Twins, I at least offer Reyes arbitration so that if he does indeed leave, you at least receive a compensation pick. If he for some odd reason takes the one-year tender (highly unlikely), then you have a somewhat cheap option out of the ‘pen.

As for Punto, I would bring him back, and I think there is a decent chance that he returns. Whether Punto has played his final game with the Twins will depend on what he asks for money wise. If he will take a somewhat small deal, they should retain him as a valuable defensive infielder and spot starter off the bench.

What are the two or three biggest areas for the Twins to address this offseason?
Seth: In my mind, SS is the team's biggest need. They really don't have an internal option that is ready. I like Trevor Plouffe, but he is at least a year away. Steve Tolleson is at least a half year away.
That would be the area I would focus most of my attention on. I still really like the idea of acquiring Ronny Cedeno from the Cubs. Yes, over J.J. Hardy. Yunel Escobar would be excellent too, but the price would be far too high.

Secondly, I would try to find an upgrade at 3B. In my mind, that means Adrian Beltre. There are certain requirements I would have. Most important, the player would not cost too much (in players/prospects).
Secondly, the guy should have just one more year left on his contract. I do believe that Danny Valencia or Luke Hughes will be ready by 2010. It's just important to ensure that the 3B replacement is better than the platoon of Brian Buscher and Brendan Harris (and maybe Matt Macri). To me, that means no to the likes of Kevin Kouzmanoff, Garrett Atkins, Hank Blalock, and many others.

Finally, they need to address some contracts. First and foremost, I would give Jason Kubel a three-year contract. I would give Scott Baker a four or five year deal. I would have the long-term contract talks with Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey.
Of course, I would already be starting negotiations with Joe Mauer that would keep him in a Twins uniform beyond his current contract which runs out after the 2010 season.

Nick: This is pretty obvious I think. The Twins are set in the rotation, at first base, at catcher, and in the outfield. There's a decent chance that Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher can form an adequate platoon at third base, that Punto could hold down regular shortstop duties and that Alexi Casilla can produce enough to be an everyday second baseman.

Yet, I'm not confident that all those things are going to happen. I think Bill Smith should work aggressively to upgrade at least one of those positions through either trades or free agency.

The bullpen, of course, also must be viewed as an urgent issue, particularly after learning that Pat Neshek will be out of the picture for 2009. I'm generally opposed to trading for relievers or signing them as free agents because the cost tends to outweigh the benefit, and I think that the Twins probably have enough talent in their current organizational relief corps that they can get by with what they have.

With that said, if an opportunity to upgrade externally presents itself and makes sense, Smith should pull the trigger.

Twins Territory: There is no question that the two major areas of need for the Twins this offseason are the bullpen and the left side of the infield.

With the loss of Pat Neshek for the entire 2009 season, and the collapse of Matt Guerrier this past season, the state of the bullpen is uncertain. It isn’t out of the questions that both Crain and Guerrier could bounce back next season or that Jose Mijares can step up and fill a set-up role.

Nonetheless, the team needs to add an at least above-average arm via trade or free agency.

As for the left side of the infield, the Twins are desperate for offense from third and shortstop. Seven different players combined for 91 RBI last season, but the Twins need consistency, and must address the position for at least the next season or two (when they hope Luke Hughes is ready).

Shortstop in my opinion is the biggest need. With no clear future at the position, adding a young player with some pop would be a solid move.

Are there any free agents or players available by trade that you would like to see the Twins trade for?
Seth: Free Agents—Ummm...No. The closest I could get to endorsing a free agent would be reliever Juan Cruz. He's got very good strikeout numbers and very non-good walk numbers. But he is going to make more money than I would pay for a reliever.
Chad Cordero is interesting to me. He will likely miss all of the 2009 season with a torn labrum. However, he was a good closer for a few years with the Nationals. He could be signed to a very cheap 2009 contract, with a reasonably priced 2010 contract and a couple of incentives and options for a couple more years.
The other name to mention is reliever Mike Lincoln. Remember he started as a Twins pitcher, but he came back in 2008 after being out FOUR years with injuries. If the Twins are looking for a cheap relief option for the bullpen, I could be OK with Lincoln.

Via Trade: As mentioned above, I would target Adrian Beltre, Ronny Cedeno, and Yunel Escobar.

Nick: I've said before that I'd love to see the Twins make a move on free agent second baseman Orlando Hudson, but that probably isn't terribly realistic considering that he is likely to command an expensive long-term deal.

I think Casey Blake would be a good short-term fix at third base at the right price. Adrian Beltre is the most intriguing trade candidate for third base but the Mariners might want more in return than the Twins should be willing to give up.

If Smith can find a way to acquire J.J. Hardy without giving up Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano or Kevin Slowey, I think it's a logical move.

Twins Territory: There is one player that I’d really like to see the team add if they decide not to upgrade third via trade, and that is Casey Blake. Blake would likely sign a two-year deal with a possible third-year option, which would allow Hughes more time in the minors.

This move would also save any trading chips that would be used on Atkins or Beltre.

I was somewhat intrigued by Orlando Cabrera at first, but now I’d say he is a definite no for me. He doesn’t impress me all that much, and it doesn’t really address the future at short.

I would love to see the Twins acquire either J.J. Hardy or Yunel Escobar in a trade. They are both 27 or younger, have solid offense, and would address the position for years to come.

As for the bullpen, no free agents really stick out to me other than Juan Cruz. I don’t see the Twins signing him, so I’ll just have faith that they can in some form replace Neshek in the ‘pen.


Due to a busy schedule, Jesse was not able to send in his answers by today’s posting. They will be posted when they come in. Make sure to check back each Tuesday from now on, and we’ll be sure to let you know if there is a week off.


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