12/21/09 12:10 PM EST
Twins in market for third baseman
Club eyeing free agents to fill familiar hole at hot corner
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
Since Corey Koskie left the Twins following the 2004 season, the club has used 17 different third basemen. Minnesota has some in-house options for next season at third base in Brendan Harris and Matt Tolbert, and third base prospect Danny Valencia is perhaps less than a year away from contributing. But for now, the club has been searching to see if it can find an upgrade for the position at a relatively cheap cost this winter.Indications last week were that the club is not close to acquiring a third basemen right now. With a multitude of third baseman currently on the market -- both via trade and through free agency -- the Twins appear willing to wait for the prices to drop. It's something that likely won't happen until after the New Year. During the flurry of moves across the league over the past two weeks, there were a few third basemen who were taken off the market. Pedro Feliz was rumored to be of interest to the Twins, but the Astros signed him to a one-year, $4.5 million deal. Garrett Atkins had also been mentioned by some media outlets to be a possible target of the Twins after he was non-tendered by the Rockies, but Atkins didn't last long on the market, as he reached a preliminary agreement on a one-year deal with the Orioles. Those recent moves eliminated a couple of possible options for the Twins, but there is still a large contingent of third basemen available. So who are the third basemen that could still be on the Twins' radar? Here's a look at some of the possible options: Mark DeRosa: The Twins have expressed interest in DeRosa and even had preliminary talks with his agent, Keith Grunewald, during the Winter Meetings. DeRosa would give the Twins a lot of flexibility. Not only is he an option to be the club's everyday third baseman in 2010, he also has the ability to play the corner outfield positions or to move to second base and shortstop if necessary. There were indications last week that the Twins could be willing to offer DeRosa a multiyear deal. The club explored signing a veteran third baseman to a multiyear contract last year -- Casey Blake -- but their offer fell short when they were reluctant to go past two years. Blake eventually went on to sign a three-year, $17.5 million deal with the Dodgers. Other teams are also interested in DeRosa, including the Yankees, Cardinals and Giants. Kevin Kouzmanoff: The Twins have spoken to San Diego about the third baseman and reportedly offered up left-hander Glen Perkins in return for Kouzmanoff. The Padres' asking price right now, however, seems to be higher than just the pitcher. So for the Twins, it will be deciding upon whether they are willing to give up a little more to get the third baseman or to wait and see if San Diego is willing to lower its price for Kouzmanoff, who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. Kouzmanoff hit .255 with 18 homers and 88 RBIs last season, but the Padres would like to move Kouzmanoff in order to shift Chase Headley back to his original position. Joe Crede: If the Twins choose to wait a long time to fill their hole at third, then Crede could be an option once again. The team signed him to an incentive-laden contract last February and he batted .225 with 15 home runs and 48 RBIs in 90 games for the Twins before he underwent back surgery in September. It was Crede's third back surgery in three years. Crede said last week in a text message to MLB.com that he's feeling great and that he's suffered no setbacks in his rehabilitation program. But being realistic, Crede said he doesn't expect to sign a deal with a club until around the same time he did last year with the Twins, so he can prove that he's indeed healthy. Adrian Beltre: Another big name on the free-agent market for third base is Beltre. The Twins have been linked to Beltre in the past, but so far there hasn't been any substantiated proof of the club inquiring about him this winter. For right now, it appears that Beltre's asking price is what seems to be keeping teams away. There have been reports that Beltre is seeking a multiyear deal (possibly five years) that pays at least $10 million per season. The Twins had explored possible trades for Beltre in recent years, but with a price tag like that, it's highly unlikely Minnesota would be interested in signing the free agent -- even if his price were to drop slightly following the New Year. Troy Glaus: His name has not been linked with the Twins yet, but an ESPN.com report this week said that Glaus is making his medical records available to all 30 teams to show that he's healthy. Glaus underwent shoulder surgery last January and only played in 14 games for the Cardinals after returning in September. But in 2008, Glaus hit 27 home runs and drove in 99 runs in 151 games for St. Louis. Glaus' agent, Mike Nicotera, told ESPN.com that Glaus is willing to log some time at DH but really wants a full-time job at first base or third base. And while he could be a risk due to his injury status, Glaus could offer teams an upside similar to what the Twins felt they were getting when they signed Crede last year.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.