Friday, December 16, 2011

Cuddyer AND Willingham? Really?

Michael Cuddyer: Not out of the picture yet
This was going to be as much eulogy for the Twins career of Michael Cuddyer as rumination about the addition of Josh Willingham, but I'll give some credence to the notion that the Twins can fit Cuddyer into their budget and wait for the actual event.

Can the Twins actually fit Cuddyer into their estimated $100 million payroll? That depends on how rigid that figure is. My guess it's that it's a soft target, not a hard ceiling. the Strib's Joe Christensen projects the current roster as costing a bit less than $96 million. The $8 million salary the Twins have offered Cuddyer would push the total to about $104 million, which is still a reduction from 2010.

Re-signing Cuddyer would probably require ownership to sign off on raising the target. That might the be smaller problem; it would also probably preclude further pitching additions. But the free agent pitching market has been rather high-priced this winter, and the chances of adding someone significant for less than $5 million are slim.

So yes, it could happen. I'm not completely sold on the wisdom of it from the Twins standpoint. They have just made a three-year commitment to one 33-year-old corner outfielder; two of them seem excessive. The Twins have young outfielders working their way through the system, and having both Cuddyer and Willingham through 2014 would seem to block the likes of Joe Benson.

This is the constant balancing act general managers encounter. The future is better served if Benson has a clear route to the majors in a year or so. The present is better served with the veterans, as Benson is clearly not ready to contribute as a major league regular.

The Twins during Ryan's era tended to err on the side of the future. Even when they brought in a veteran, it was generally on an inexpensive one-year deal that didn't really block the kids as much as keep a roster spot warm for them.

That changed somewhat during the Bill Smith era, especially when Target Field increased revenues.

Beyond the question of whether it's wise for the Twins to peruse Cuddyer is the question of whether Cuddyer is genuinely interested or just playing a waiting game, hoping for better offers elsewhere. He's been sitting on the Twins offer for more than a week, after all.

No comments:

Post a Comment