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Rebuilding The Twins: My Top Free Agent Targets for the Twins

This is a pivotal offseason for the Twins, having just relieved general manager Bill Smith of his duties, and replacing him on an interim basis with former GM Terry Ryan.

The team has many holes to fill, most notably in the starting rotation and bullpen, but a rash of injuries hurt the club last season as well.

With a limited amount of money to spend I have a few targets I think the Twins should pursue to put them back in contention next year.


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Ryan Doumit


My stance on Mauer and Morneau has changed since I started doing the Rebuilding the Twins Series. I believe that Mauer will be moved to first base to alleviate the stress on his legs and Morneau will be moved to DH to help limit the possibility of reoccurring concussion symptoms. This will create the need for a catcher who can catch 100 or so games a year. Drew Butera is capable but lacks offensively. This is where Doumit comes in. Granted he has had an extensive injury history, but this would allow the Twins to get him cheaply with a low base salary and incentives. If healthy, Doumit can hit for a relatively high average and has some pop in his bat.


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Nick Punto


Yes, Twins fans, I am all in for the Twins to bring Punto back. Fresh off of a World Series win with the Cardinals, Punto could provide a defensive boost to an infield defense that was abysmal for the Twins last season. Punto should be available for a relatively cheap price too, as he earned $750,000 last year. Regardless of the price, the Twins saw what life was like without Punto last year, and it was not a pretty picture.


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Heath Bell


If the Twins are to make a big splash this offseason, what better way to do so then by reworking the back end of the bullpen? Bell is one of the premier closers in baseball, and has said he wants to play for a contender. The Twins could be that contender if given a year or so to get back on track. The team could use the money they would have spent on Joe Nathan, and invest it on Bell, who when teamed up with Glen Perkins would give the Twins a lights-out back end of the bullpen. Bell figures to command anywhere from $10-15 million annually, but the Twins could offer around $10-12 and stacked up against the other closers in the AL Central; I would take Bell most days of the week.


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Octavio Dotel


Another area that the Twins struggled in was their middle relievers. Relying mostly on contact pitchers hurt the Twins time and time again. It is time that the Twins go back to carrying strikeout artists in the bullpen to combat the growing number of power hitters each team now carries. Dotel proved he can still strike out the best hitters during the playoffs with St. Louis last season, providing key outs all the way up to the World Series. Dotel is 38, but would most likely only want a 1 year deal for around $1 or 2 million. This would be right in the Twins’ price range, and is another deal I think the team should make.


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Jonathan Broxton


With Broxton you get the potential for 2 things: a flame throwing reliever who could be a shutdown 7th inning option if healthy, or a guy who fell out of favor in Los Angeles and couldn’t stay off the disabled list. Broxton at his prime was a dominant reliever, averaging well over a strikeout per inning pitched, reaching 114 strikeouts in 76 innings pitched in 2009. Broxton had elbow problems last season, but those issues appear to have been cleaned up. This is another high risk, high reward option that would give the Twins a cheap signing that could provide big dividends.


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Mark Buehrle


Long time Twins nemesis Mark Buehrle is now a free agent, and what a better way to make a splash within the division than to pry him away from the competition. Buehrle is a fly ball pitcher who wins games with grit rather than pitch speed. He has burned the Twins countless times throughout his career and would seem to be a perfect fit for Target Field due to its expansive dimensions. Granted Buehrle isn’t a dominant ace that the Twins need, but it is doubtful that the Twins will be able to spend enough to get a pitcher of that caliber. Buehrle has shown he can stay healthy and has pitched 200 innings every season he has played. For a rotation lacking consistency, Buehrle would be able to at least pitch every 5th day.


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Rich Harden


This represents the biggest risk I think the Twins should make. Harden has had no shortage of injuries over the course of his career, and usually ends up running his pitch count into the 100s by the 5th inning. But one thing he has managed to do throughout that time is strike batters out. This is an area the Twins have lacked at since Johann Santana was traded. If Harden was signed to a one year deal with a low base salary and incentives, I think the potential would be there for a great season for a pitcher trying to get his career back on track. If the Twins were to sign Harden, and he were to stay healthy, he could provide a dominant front of the rotation starter and with the bullpen options above, he wouldn’t need to pitch past the 5th or 6th inning.


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Roy Oswalt


If the Twins wanted to sign a player looking to get back on track, Oswalt would be a perfect option. Oswalt had his season cut short due to back issues last year and was promptly let go by the Phillies. When healthy, Oswalt is still a front of the rotation starter, and has a handful of good years left in his career. Due to his injuries, he may command a lesser salary with incentives when he can prove he is healthy. And for a team looking to spend wisely this offseason, Oswalt is a pretty sure bet to bounce back from the injuries that hampered him last season.


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Grady Sizemore


A couple weeks ago I wouldn’t have even considered Sizemore as a possible option for this team. However after looking at the possibility of Cuddyer and Kubel both leaving via free agency and looking to rookies such as Joe Benson and Ben Revere for a large part of the playing time, the need arises for a 4th outfielder. Sizemore would be an extremely cheap signing due to his injury history over the last few seasons. Sizemore has pop in his bat when he can play, and would be able to play all outfield positions which would make him an intriguing option as a 3rd or 4th outfielder.


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