Twins ready to move once Cuddyer decides
Club looking at prospects for Thursday's Rule 5 Draft
DALLAS -- The Twins have made it clear all along that re-signing free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer is their top priority at baseball's Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole.
They made Cuddyer a three-year offer reportedly in the $24 million range on Tuesday, but as Day 3 came to close on Wednesday, Cuddyer had yet to accept the proposed deal.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan said he didn't meet with Cuddyer's agent, Casey Close, on Wednesday, but expects to resume discussions on the fourth and final day of the Winter Meetings on Thursday.
"I did not, but I didn't expect to either," Ryan said. "We left it yesterday, and we know where each other stand. I think we probably pick it up tomorrow."
But there are growing indications that the Twins aren't willing to wait much longer on Cuddyer, as they have other needs to address and need to know his decision soon because of budgetary reasons.
"They know where we stand," Ryan said. "I think they'd rather get something done sooner than later as well. Everybody would like to have some finality on whether or not they're coming back here. Without putting words in his mouth, I'm sure he'd like to have this thing come to a decision in the near future. He just had the babies yesterday, so there are some things going on his life."
As Ryan noted, Cuddyer's wife, Claudia, gave birth to twin daughters, Chloe and Madeline, on Tuesday. Twins manager Ron Gardenhire -- meeting with the media in Dallas on Wednesday -- said he told Cuddyer he hopes it's a sign that Cuddyer accepts the offer and returns to Minnesota.
"I told him it's kind of an omen, having twins," Gardenhire joked. "He should be a Twin."
But if Cuddyer rejects the offer, the Twins appear primed to target free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel. They prefer Cuddyer, but Kubel remains a viable backup plan, as Ryan indicated there's not enough payroll flexibility to sign both outfielders.
Both players also declined arbitration Wednesday night.
The Twins -- who are still free to sign either player -- will receive compensation in next year's First-Year Player Draft if Cuddyer or Kubel sign with another club. If they would've accepted arbitration they would've been pinned to a one-year deal, but both players are expected to command multiyear deals.
Cuddyer is a Type A free agent, so Minnesota will receive a first-round pick and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds if he departs via free agency. Kubel, meanwhile, is a Type B free agent, so the Twins would only receive a sandwich pick if he signs elsewhere."It's not realistic to think we will be able to bring back both," Ryan said. "I know that."
The Twins are still actively looking for starting pitching help, but saw free-agent left-hander Mark Buehrle agree with the Marlins on a four-year deal worth $58 million. Buehrle was simply out of their price range, as they appear more likely to go after a cheaper alternative such as Jeff Francis.
They've also been in contact with the agents for Japanese pitchers Hisashi Iwakuma and Tsuyoshi Wada, but have yet to make an offer to either pitcher.
But Gardenhire said he's hopeful that Ryan signs a starting pitcher, as the club is looking to add depth after trading Kevin Slowey and with Brian Duensing expected to move to the bullpen.
"We're still working on it," Gardenhire said. "We're working on a lot of different things. It's a process. Terry and the guys are up there getting after it pretty good. I've been on phone conversations with Terry pretty much every day. There's a lot of names out there. And the first thing you have to do is sign your free agents. Michael Cuddyer is the big one. And after Jason, we'll see where that goes."
The Twins, though, appear certain to add at least one player on Thursday, as they have the No. 2 pick in the Rule 5 Draft.
"We have a good idea of who we want," Ryan said. "Every year there are a couple players you have your sights on. Last year, we had about five in the running and it went down to about three."
Minnesota took left-hander Scott Diamond from the Braves in last year's Rule 5 Draft, and ended up trading for him near the end of Spring Training so that he didn't have to spend the entire season on the 25-man roster. Diamond ended up seeing action with the Twins, posting a 5.08 ERA in seven outings with 19 strikeouts and 17 walks in 39 innings.
"It's a legitimate way to acquire talent for a reasonable price, so we usually participate," Ryan said. "We got [Johan] Santana in that thing and Shane Mack way back. So we've got some pretty decent players over the years that turned out to be good for us. So we take it quite serious."