Twins get ball rolling with successful Meetings
Club secures closer and infield depth; Cuddyer still main target
DALLAS -- The Twins are still far from a finished product as they try to revamp the roster after losing 99 games last season. But general manager Terry Ryan and his staff had a productive four days at baseball's Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole.
The Twins were active right from the start, reaching an agreement with closer Matt Capps on the first day while also claiming shortstop Pedro Florimon from the Orioles.
They also finally found a trading partner for right-hander Kevin Slowey on Tuesday, as he was traded to the Rockies for a player to be named. Slowey, who was also a candidate to be dealt before the July 31 Trade Deadline last season, was likely to be non-tendered after posting a 6.67 ERA last season.
But their top priority heading into the Winter Meetings was to re-sign free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer, and they left Texas without reaching an agreement.
The Twins, though, do have a three-year offer on the table, reportedly worth about $24 million, and are waiting to hear back from Cuddyer and his agent, Casey Close. So the club is still hopeful they can bring back the veteran, who would fill a huge need for the Twins because of his versatility and power from the right side of the plate.
"Coming in we thought we had a chance, and going out we think we have a chance," Ryan said. "That hasn't changed."
The Twins are also still looking for a starting pitcher and bullpen help, but did find their closer in Capps. And as Ryan noted, it's a tough market to find quality starting pitching, as top starters such as Mark Buehrle (four-year deal worth $58 million with the Marlins) and C.J. Wilson (five-year deal worth $77.5 million with the Angels) commanded multi-year deals out of the Twins' price range.
"This is a little bit leaner of a free-agent class," Ryan said. "I think in years past there would've been a little bit more opportunity. But there are still some pitchers out there we still have interest in."
So while much of their budget depends on whether Cuddyer decides to come back, expect the Twins to remain busy this offseason.
Deals done: The Twins found their closer, signing Capps to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million that includes a $6 million option for 2013 with a $250,000 buyout. Capps struggled last year with a 4.25 ERA and nine blown saves in 25 chances, but the Twins remain confident he'll bounce back next year after dealing with forearm issues throughout the season.
Minnesota dealt Slowey to the Rockies for a player to be named.
The Twins also claimed Florimon from the Orioles and placed him on the 40-man roster. Florimon, 24, batted .267 with a .344 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage in 133 games with Double-A Bowie last season. He also hit .125 in eight at-bats as a September callup last year.
Rule 5 Draft activity: The Twins had the No. 2 pick, and selected right-hander Terry Doyle from the White Sox organization on Thursday. Doyle, 26, posted a 3.07 ERA with 122 strikeouts and 33 walks in 173 innings between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham last season.
The Twins also selected right-handed pitcher Marty Popham from the Indians organization and lost right-handed pitcher Shooter Hunt to the Cardinals organization in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.
Goals accomplished: The Twins needed a closer after right-hander Joe Nathan departed to Texas on a two-year deal with an option for '14, and found their man in Capps.
Minnesota also added some infield depth by acquiring Florimon. He's expected to compete for a backup role in Spring Training.
And they traded Slowey, who struggled to make the transition from a starter to a reliever last year.
The also added potential bullpen depth with their selection of Doyle, as he could serve as a long reliever and spot starter next season if he makes the club. But if the Twins do decide to keep him, he must remain on the Twins' 25-man roster for the entire season, or else he must be offered back to the White Sox.
Unfinished business: The Twins' top target remains Cuddyer, so they still are in the market for a corner outfielder, and could turn to alternative options such as Jason Kubel or Josh Willingham if Cuddyer signs elsewhere.
The Twins are also looking to add a starting pitcher and are in the market to add a few relief pitchers to help bolster a bullpen that posted the worst ERA in the Majors last season.
GM's bottom line: "You can always do more. Sometimes you come with aspirations to fill every hole, but we accomplished some things we were trying to do. There's no doubt. But we still have work to do. It's an entire winter process when you're working on a roster." -- Ryan