December 2011

Winter Meetings wrap; Capps’ contract details

MINNEAPOLIS — The Winter Meetings are over, and the Twins left Dallas having signed only Matt Capps to a one-year deal with an option for 2013.

In case you’re curious, Capps is set to make $4.5 million in ’12, and has a club option for ’13 worth $6 million with a $250,000 buyout.

He also has a range of performance bonuses in ’12, including $250,000 bonuses for finishing 50, 55 and 60 games; and a $500,000 bonus for finishing 65 games.

For context, Capps finished just 35 games last season, but when he was a full-time closer in ’10, he finished a career-high 66 games. He also finished 50 games in ’09 with the Pirates.

He would also receive $250,000 for being named an All-Star, $50,000 for being the ALCS MVP and $100,000 for being World Series MVP.

And if he wins the AL MVP, he would earn $100,000, or $75,000 for a second-place finish or $50,000 for a third-place finish. But I’m sure the Twins aren’t too worried about those bonuses. Jamey Carroll and Ryan Doumit also have similar bonuses tied to the AL MVP as well.

The Twins, though, did make a few other moves at the Winter Meetings, and have a three-year offer on the table for Michael Cuddyer. For details on what transpired at the Hilton Anatole, click here.

Twins take RHP Doyle in Rule 5 Draft

DALLAS — The Twins selected right-hander Terry Doyle from the White Sox organization in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings today.

Doyle, 26, posted a 3.07 ERA with 122 strikeouts and 33 walks in 173 innings between Class A Winston-Salem and Double-A Birmingham last season. He also went 4-0 with a 1.98 ERA in eight starts totaling 27 1/3 innings in the Arizona Fall League.

“If you look at his line this year it’s impressive, and he was impressive in the Arizona Fall League,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. “The one thing that sticks out is the innings he’s logged. This guy is a workhorse. He’s going to take the ball. He’s big and strong and durable.”

Doyle, a 6-foot-4, 225-pounder, must remain on the Twins’ 25-man roster for the entire season, or else he must be offered back to the White Sox. Another option — if they don’t want to keep him on the active roster all year — would be to offer him back and acquire in him a trade like the Twins did last year with left-hander Scott Diamond.

But Doyle, whose fastball is in the 88-94 mph range, could make the club as a long reliever and spot starter before evolving into a full-time starter in the future.

“If he’s good enough to stick you find a spot for him,” Ryan said. “This is one of those where you take a shot and hopefully everything fits. This is more of an opportunity to acquire talent.”

The Twins also selected right-handed pitcher Marty Popham, 24, from the Indians organization and lost right-handed pitcher Shooter Hunt to the Cardinals organization in the Minor League phase of the Rule 5 Draft.

Morning Update from Day 3

DALLAS — It’s been a slow morning so far for the Twins, who have only announced that the Matt Capps deal is official after he passed his physical yesterday.

But there is growing speculation that Michael Cuddyer will make his decision on where he’ll sign today, and it very well could be with the Twins after they offered him a three-year deal reportedly in the $24 million range yesterday.

Nothing is official, however, as the Red Sox, Phillies and now the Rockies have expressed interest in the free-agent outfielder.

But I’ll keep you posted as it progresses today, as the Twins are certainly hoping he accepts their offer.

We’re also set to meet with Twins manager Ron Gardenhire today during a luncheon and a 2 p.m. media session, so stay tuned.

Twins make formal offer to Cuddyer

DALLAS — Twins general manager Terry Ryan confirmed he met with free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer’s agent, Casey Close, today, and that an offer is on the table.

Ryan wouldn’t talk specifics about the offer, but according to multiple reports, it’s expected to be in the three-year, $24 million range.

He said there’s still no timetable for when Cuddyer will make a decision, but that he hopes that he comes to a decision sooner rather than later.

“There will be finality eventually,” Ryan said. “I’m not sure how close we are to that point.”

Ryan added that the Twins have the advantage of being the only team Cuddyer has ever known, as he was drafted by the club in 1997 and made his debut in Minnesota in ’01.

“The situation with Michael is that there’s a relationship,” Ryan said. “We know him, and he knows us. We know his agent, he knows us. There’s not a whole lot of educational process in this. He’s known us for years. He’s played for the manager and knows the community. There isn’t any mystery here, and that’s a good thing. But I guess the bad thing is that we’re coming off a tough year.”

As Ryan noted, the Twins are coming off a 99-loss season that saw them finish with the worst record in the American League. Cuddyer, who is a career .338 hitter in 22 postseason games, would like to play for a winning team, and known suitors include perennial contenders such as the Phillies and Red Sox.

So Ryan said there’s still no guarantee that Cuddyer will be back in a Twins uniform next year despite the formal offer.

“We’re chasing Michael Cuddyer,” Ryan said. “If we don’t get Michael, we have to make alternative plans. I didn’t think there’s any hidden agenda here. We’d like to have Michael but if we don’t get him and he goes elsewhere, we’ll move on and do something else.”

Other options for the Twins if Cuddyer signs with another club include fellow free-agent outfielders Jason Kubel and Josh Willingham. The Twins already met with Kubel’s agent in Dallas, and are tentatively planned to meet with Willingham’s agent later this week.

Cuddyer also had a busy day today, as his wife, Claudia, gave birth to twin daughters, Chloe and Madeline. Ryan indicated it could be a reason why Cuddyer hasn’t made a decision yet on his future.

“Everybody has responsibility in that area,” Ryan said. “For those of us married, when your wife is pregnant and is about to have twins, your mind is on something other than baseball.”

Slowey traded to Rockies for player to be named

DALLAS — The Twins agreed to send right-hander Kevin Slowey to the Rockies for a player to be named, the club officially announced Tuesday.

Slowey, 27, went 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA in 59 1/3 innings last season. He started the season in the bullpen but battled forearm issues and an abdominal strain, and finished the season in the starting rotation.

Slowey, though, struggled as a starter, going 0-8 with a 7.25 ERA in eight outings down the stretch. Because of his struggles, Slowey, who made $2.7 million last season, was a non-tender candidate for the Twins.

But he fared much better as a starter in ’10, going 13-6 with a 4.45 ERA in 30 games (28 starts) totaling 155 2/3 innings. The right-hander has a career 4.66 ERA with 395 strikeouts, 84 walks and 84 homers allowed in 532 2/3 innings.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan — speaking with reporters during his media availability on Monday — spoke highly of Slowey, saying he expects him to bounce back next season.

“All you have to do is look at 2010,” Ryan said. “What did he do in 2010? How many games did he win? You can slice and dice those statistics any way you want, you’re looking for guys who win games. A starting pitcher’s job is probably, first and foremost, to win games. A guy wins 15, 20 games in the major leagues, you say, ‘Geez, I don’t know how he did it but he’s got ‘em.’ OK.”

Twins reportedly agree to deal with Capps

DALLAS — The Twins agreed to terms with free-agent reliever Matt Capps on a one-year deal with an option for 2013, according to multiple reports. The deal is reportedly pending a physical.

The Twins, however, have not made an official announcement.

Capps, 28, posted a 4.25 ERA with 34 strikeouts, 13 walks and 10 homers allowed in 65 2/3 innings with the Twins last season. He also converted 15 saves in 24 opportunities, as he lost his role as closer to Joe Nathan after struggling in mid-July.

But the Twins liked Capps’ attitude and said the right-hander pitched hurt most of the season, as he dealt with a forearm issue.

Capps is expected to serve as the club’s closer next season, as left-hander Glen Perkins is expected to remain in a setup role and Nathan left for Texas on a two-year deal that includes an option.

More to come …

Gauging Twins’ interest in Willingham

DALLAS — The Twins’ top priority remains signing Michael Cuddyer, but the club does have interest in free-agent outfielder Josh Willingham as a backup plan, a source confirmed on Monday.

There is nothing imminent between the Twins and Willingham, but the the Twins and Willingham’s agent, Matt Sosnick, are tentatively scheduled to meet face-to-face on Thursday if the club doesn’t reach a deal with Cuddyer, according to the source.

Willingham, 32, hit .246/.332/.477 last season with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBIs in 136 games with the A’s.

It was reported earlier this morning that nine teams, including the Twins, Indians, Red Sox, Reds and Pirates have called on Willingham.

I’ll have more once we meet with Twins general manager Terry Ryan at 4:30 p.m. today.

Twins claim SS Florimon from Orioles

DALLAS — The Twins claimed shortstop Pedro Florimon from the Orioles and placed him on the 40-man roster.

Florimon, 24, batted .267 with a .344 on-base percentage and .396 slugging percentage in 133 games with Double-A Bowie last season. He also hit eight homers, 27 doubles and three triples with 15 stolen base in 27 attempts.

The switch-hitter also saw action in four games with the Orioles as a September callup, hitting .125 with a double and two RBIs in 10 at-bats.

With the move, the Twins currently have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Welcome to the Winter Meetings

DALLAS — It’s the first day of the Winter Meetings here at the Hilton Anatole, and so far not much is cooking with the Twins, but it’s still early.

We just received news on the results of the voting from the Veterans Committee, who voted former Cubs third baseman Ron Santo into the Hall of Fame, receiving 15 of the 16 votes. Former Twins Jim Kaat and Tony Oliva received 10 and eight votes, respectively, in the voting to fall short of necessary 12 for election to Cooperstown.

The Twins are generally quiet during the Winter Meetings but still have plenty of work to do to fix a team that lost 99 games last season. So far, there’s word coming from ESPN that the Twins are among nine teams who called on Josh Willingham, but I wouldn’t read into that too much yet, as Michael Cuddyer remains the club’s top target.

For a primer on what the Twins are looking to do this week, click here.

We’re also scheduled to meet with Twins general manager at Terry Ryan today at 4 p.m. And click here, to see what to expect for the rest of the week over at Twinbaseball.com.

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