Inbox: What will become of free agents?
Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers Twins fans' questions
MINNEAPOLIS -- The five-day window for the Twins to exclusively talk with free agents Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel, Joe Nathan and Matt Capps ended last week, and now the players are free to sign with any club.
As expected, the Twins did not get any deals done during that time period, but they will remain in contact with all four players' agents this offseason.
But the Twins can also start dealing with other free agents, as the club has many things to fix after a 99-loss season.
So now is simply the start of what should be a very busy offseason, and things could get very interesting, very quickly. With that in mind, here's this week's Twins Inbox:
How far are the Twins willing to go to keep fan favorite Michael Cuddyer on the roster?
-- Debra D., Brookings, S.D.
This is the multi-million dollar question, as Cuddyer appears to be coveted by several clubs, including the Phillies, who reportedly have a strong interest in signing Cuddyer to a multi-year deal.
Have a question about the Twins?
E-mail your query to MLB.com Twins beat reporter Rhett Bollinger for possible inclusion in a future Inbox column. Letters may be edited for brevity, length and/or content.
Cuddyer is also being courted by former Twins designated hitter Jim Thome, who signed a one-year deal with the Phillies and has been trading texts with Cuddyer about possibly joining him in Philadelphia.
If the Phillies do in fact make Cuddyer an offer, I'm sure the Twins will be asked by Cuddyer's agent Casey Close if they can match it, and so it'll be up to them whether it would be worth matching. But it's still unknown how much Cuddyer will be offered, although he's expected to be offered at least a three-year deal.
Even if the Twins were to match a proposed deal from a team like the Phillies, there's still no guarantee Cuddyer would return, as he might want to go somewhere he has a better chance of winning a World Series.
It also could all play out soon, especially considering Cuddyer would like to get a deal done quickly because his wife is pregnant with twins.
You mentioned that Twins are linked to another Japanese player -- pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma. Do we have a scout in Japan?
-- Alex S., Waterloo, Minn.
The Twins have two full-time scouts in Asia -- Cary Broder is based on Taiwan and David Kim is based in Korea -- while also employing Koji Takahashi and Akihiro Yamaguchi as part-time scouts in Japan.
The Twins have scouted Iwakuma for a while, as last year general manager Bill Smith said international scouting coordinator Howard Norsetter, senior adviser Terry Ryan and Kim all saw him pitch before they placed a bid on the right-hander. The Twins ended up finishing second to the A's in the bidding for Iwakuma, but he ended up playing another season in Japan, and is now a free agent, meaning he's free to sign with any team.
I've also been told that Iwakuma is headed to the United States in about two weeks to work out for some teams, and I'm betting the Twins will be there to watch him throw.
Now that the Twins have a new radio play-by-play man, will the rest of the radio broadcast team remain the same or will there be changes?
-- Dan J., Austin, Minn.
The Twins announced the hiring of Cory Provus last week, but they have yet to announce if the rest of the radio broadcast team will remain the same.
Kris Atteberry, who mostly did pregame and postgame duty, was a candidate to replace John Gordon, but was ultimately beat out by Provus. So it's unclear if he wants to remain in the same role, or look elsewhere.
And Jack Morris also could leave the booth, as I've heard there's even a chance he might help the organization in some sort of a coaching capacity. But I've been told it will be a mutual decision made by both the Twins and Morris if that were to happen.
What are the chances of having Glen Perkins being the closer if the Twins do not re-sign Joe Nathan for 2012?
-- Amelia P., Eagan, Minn.
There's a very good chance Perkins would be shifted to closer if the Twins can't re-sign Nathan. But I think it would be better for the Twins if they keep Perkins in his current role, even though I think he'd excel as a closer.
In his current role, Perkins can be used in more high-leverage situations and isn't bound to simply pitching the ninth-inning with a lead. My opinion is that there's more value to bringing in a top reliever like Perkins in a tight spot in the seventh inning than there is to bring him in with a three-run lead in the ninth just because it's a save opportunity.
That being said, Perkins is currently the club's only viable in-house option to close if Nathan doesn't return, and so there's certainly a chance he's the closer next season.
Assuming Ben Revere makes the club out of Spring Training as a starting outfielder, where would he likely bat? Would he bat leadoff with Denard Span batting second? Or would he bat towards the bottom of the order with Span batting leadoff and possibly Alexi Casilla batting second?
-- Tim Z., Waconia, Minn.
It makes the most sense to keep Span, if healthy, as the club's leadoff hitter because of his propensity to get on base. Span has a career .361 on-base percentage and it doesn't make much sense to move him out of the leadoff spot.
Casilla also seemed to thrive in the two-hole last season, and appears to be a better fit there than Revere because of his ability to handle the bat, especially when it comes to bunting. Revere would then likely be used as the club's ninth hitter, or in essence as a second leadoff man leading back to Span and Casilla atop the lineup.
Can you explain the Rule 5 Draft? What players are available -- are they all Triple-A players, or players of a certain age? I'm just curious how it works.
-- Bob B., Yankton, S.D.
The Rule 5 Draft can be tough to explain, but basically players are eligible for the Rule 5 Draft if they are not on their club's 40-man roster and were signed at age 19 or older and have been in the organization for four years; or were signed at 18 or younger and have been in the organization for five years.
The Draft takes place during the Winter Meetings, and just like the First-Year Player Draft, the Draft order is determined by the team's win-loss records from the previous year.
The tricky part is that players who are selected must remain on their new club's 25-man roster for the entire upcoming season, or else they must be offered back to their original club for half of the $50,000 paid for making the pick.
For example, that's why the Twins had to carry Rule 5 pick Johan Santana on their active roster in 2000 despite a 6.49 ERA in 86 innings that season. As another example, the Twins drafted Scott Diamond from the Braves last year, but decided in Spring Training it wasn't worth keeping him on the active roster all season, so they worked out a trade to keep him so they could option him to Triple-A.