Earlier today, the Twins announced that they’ve agreed to terms with free agent outfielder Josh Willingham. The 32 year old agreed to a deal reportedly worth 21 million dollars over three years.
Willingham would be a right handed bat in the Twins line up that would provide power along with Justin Morneau, provided Morneau is back healthy next season. Last season with the Oakland Athletics, Willingham hit 29 home runs and drove in 98 runs while scoring 69 runs in the process. Oakland’s home field is more known as a pitcher’s ball park, yet Willingham was able to hit 15 home runs there last season.
The common consensus among the Twin cities media is since the Twins have signed Willingham, they are no longer interested in re-signing Michael Cuddyer. However, Twins officials have not ruled out the possibility of bringing back Cuddyer. Here’s my thoughts on the issue.
I personally think that the Twins are going to make a strong effort to bring Cuddyer back. Before I go further, I should note that Willingham has only played 35 games in right field over his eight year major league career. Also, the talk is that Cuddyer has a stronger arm. With Willingham in right, it would mean Ben Revere would be the everyday left fielder. Although Revere’s speed allows him to cover more ground than Willingham, his arm isn’t very reliable in throwing runners out at the plate. If Cuddyer re-signs with the Twins Willingham would be in left and Cuddyer would be in right with Revere as the extra outfielder.
And, I’d also like to point out what GM Terry Ryan has stated about the Twins pay roll. He’s said that they’re going to have the pay roll at around 100 million dollars. He’s also said that they’re willing to up it a little higher.
What this means is I don’t think that the Twins are done with Cuddyer or Jason Kubel as far as trying to re-signing one of them. Right now, the estimated pay roll is around 96 million. The reported offer from the Twins for Cuddyer is 24 million dollars over three years.
One other thing I’d like to mention. The Denver post has reported that the Colorado Rockies have a three year 27 million dollar offer on the table for Cuddyer. If the Twims matched the offer from the Rockies, it would make the pay roll around 105 million dollars. But, maybe I’ll mention something else as well.
Cuddyer at the end of last season stated that he was not going to return to the Twins next season and that he was frustrated with the team for the losing season. Well, anyone would be frustrated with the team, including fans. Maybe the reason Cuddyer hasn’t signed yet is the fact he wanted to see what the Twins would do to improve the team.
The answer I have is I think the Twins have improved the team. Is it good enough to win the AL Central, I won’t say yes for sure, but I think they have a better shot at it than the Rockies do at winning the NL West. Plus it’s also been reported that the Phillies and Mariners are also interested in Cuddyer.
If Cuddyer wants to go to a winner, then he would want to go to the Phillies. And, I’ve not really heard a whole lot on the Phillies Cuddyer front lately. It could be possible that he’s not going to sign there afterall.
And I think the Twins made a good signing in bringing back Matt Capps as much as I don’t like his stats from last season. However, if he can perform as well as he did in 2010 where he had a 2.47 ERA with 42 saves between the Twins and Washington Nationals, I think it was a good move to re-sign him. However, I think they need to figure out a couple more descent relievers to help out in the bullpen so they may not sign Cuddyer or Kubel. Don’t expect the Twins to re-sign both Cuddyer and Kubel.
And if we don’t sign them, we’d gain 2 draft picks for Cuddyer since he’s a modified Type A free agent and one sandwich pick for Kubel who’s a modified Type B Free Agent. Given the situation, I think the Twins should bring back Cuddyer, preferably Cuddyer in case Morneau isn’t healthy. And if we don’t bring them back, all is not lost.