The Minnesota Twins made what would appear to be the last significant upgrade to this season’s roster on Thursday, agreeing to terms with the top free agent left in the market in second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Hudson does have a clause in the agreement that states if he’s a Type A free agent after the season, the Twins can not offer arbitration, meaning Minnesota would be unable to get his next team’s first-round pick and a compensatory pick. But I got a hunch if Hudson plays his way to that status next year, the Twins will be OK with the results. And if he became a Type B free agent and left, the Twins could still offer arbitration and get a compensatory pick, which isn’t bad either.
Hudson’s a two-time All-Star and a four-time Gold Glove winner. The Twins managed to get him for merely a one-year, $5 million deal with no incentives, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.
He’s not a flashy player by any stretch of the imagination. But you can pretty much pencil him in for a .290 average with 8 homers and 60 RBIs while providing solid defense. And most importantly, his presence keeps both Brendan Harris and Nick Punto out of the starting lineup together at any given time. This allows the Twins to just start one of these two guys at third base, while placing the other one on the bench.
That’s encouraging considering Harris would be one of the worst starting third baseman in Major League Baseball. And Punto, for all of his great glove work, is a maddeningly inconsistent offensive player, and even his best offense isn’t that great. The guy slugged .284 last year!
The infielder most affected by Hudson’s presence on the roster is second baseman Alexi Casilla.
Casilla, who is out of options and would have to pass through waivers if he were sent to the minor leagues before the season, could very well end up being traded.
Would the Twins be willing to give up on Casilla? He was a nice contributor for them in 2008, though so was Brian Buscher and that didn’t really lead to anything. And Casilla did get the winning hit in Game 163 last year. The Twins would be best served carrying him and the loser of the Punto/Harris battle as back-ups, but I’m guessing Twins skipper Ron Gardenhire will save a spot on that roster for Matt Tolbert aka Punto Lite.
But back to Hudson. The Twins could sport a pretty tough lineup this year.
CF SpanMan, 2B O-Dog, C Baby Jesus, 1B Morneau, LF Kubel, RF Cuddy, DH Thome, SS Hardy, 3B Punto
CF SpanMan, 2B O-Dog, C Baby Jesus, 1B Morneau, RF Cuddy, DH Kubel, LF Young, SS Hardy, 3B Harris
Those are pretty good lineups. And I think the bullpen should be very good too, with Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares forming the core of that unit.
If the Twins can get any sort of consistent and steady starting pitching – something they lacked the first five months of last season – they could be pretty tough to beat.
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