Everything great must come to an end sometime, but the Twins 2006 season saw its finish arrive just a little too soon.
It was a quick exit from the postseason for the Twins, but with so much young talent, there clearly is a lot of hope for what is to come in the future.
As all focus now starts gearing toward the 2007 season, it's time to look into what might be going on this offseason, and Twins fans certainly have lots on their minds, so let's dig into this week's edition of the mailbag.
Now that the season is over, the Twins are starting to deal with player contracts. We all know that Torii Hunter's option was picked up for next year, but what does the club plan on doing with Luis Castillo's $5.75 million option? What players are up for arbitration and who do you think will not be back with the club next year? -- J.J., Sioux Falls, S.D.
There are quite a few decisions that the Twins have to make during the offseason, but one of them won't concern Castillo. The Twins' second baseman will definitely be around for the 2007 season as his option kicked in automatically after 501 plate appearances this past season.
As for arbitration-eligible players -- Michael Cuddyer, Lew Ford, Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Nick Punto, Juan Rincon, Carlos Silva and Jason Tyner are all up for pay raises this offseason. The most costly will certainly be Mauer and Morneau, two players who the Twins would be wise to sign to long-term contracts now.
It certainly won't be an easy task for the club, as shown by the recent deal given to a similar young talent -- Mets third baseman David Wright, who received six years, $55 million and has a year less service time than either Mauer or Morneau.
I have been a Twins fan in southern Indiana since 1961, and it's been difficult sometimes because I'm right in the middle of Reds/Cardinals country. With the pitching potential that we have right now, I see one major concern over the winter months. Do you believe we will try to sign a new designated hitter or will we bring Rondell White back? I think we are that position away from winning a championship. -- Bob M., Sullivan, Ind.
The status of White is one of the biggest question marks of the offseason. Earlier in the year, it appeared that there was no way that the Twins would pick up White's option for 2007. But with White's bat showing promise near the end of the season, it could be in the club's best interest to bring him back rather than trying to find another big bat on the free agent market. The Twins have shown limited ability in seeking out a high-priced free agent with a power bat, and looking at the numbers being thrown out already at players like Alfonso Soriano, it appears that once again most will be out of range for the Twins. The team has a choice of buying out White for $750,000 or selecting his option, the value of which is still under some question, but likely is near the $2.5 million he made this season.
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I'm so glad that the Twins picked up Hunter's option. Next year's team looks solid, with the exception of one more prominent pitcher in the rotation. With the retirement of Brad Radke (I wish he would reconsider), will the Twins look to sign a starter in the offseason or will they go with the young players they already have? -- Bob D., Sandusky, Ohio
The young players will certainly get chances to be part of the rotation, but manager Ron Gardenhire has made clear his desire to get a veteran arm to add to the rotation as well.
Some of the free agents that will be available this season are Jason Schmidt, Ted Lilly, Mark Mulder and Jeff Suppan, among others. It appears that most of the pitchers available this offseason will be out of the Twins' pay range. But with some question marks still remaining for next season, it could be very important to get at least one more experienced arm.
Johan Santana will lead the staff with Boof Bonser and Matt Garza likely in the mix. The rest of the rotation will be determined later as the team must wait for word on Francisco Liriano's health. There will also be a decision coming shortly after the World Series as to whether the team will pick up Silva's option for $4.325 million or buy him out for $100,000.
Are the Twins optimistic that Jason Kubel will be able to regain his health by next season? He looked to be in quite a bit of pain this year, and I wonder whether his career is finished after that devastating knee injury. -- Kevin, Oak Ridge, Tenn.
It seemed a lot to ask for Kubel to be completely ready to play this season, and with the trouble the outfielder had late in the year it proved to be true. But while his legs bothered him for the entire second half, there is confidence that having an offseason to rest and condition himself back to his old form will help the 24-year-old to become more of an impact player next season. The Twins still look at Kubel as one of their key players for the future. More will be known as to whether that injury will have long-term effects when Kubel arrives in Fort Myers, Fla., this coming February for Spring Training.
What can we look forward to as far as offseason moves? It seems like everything should fall into place pretty easily in the infield, but what will the outfield look like? With Shannon Stewart probably on the way out, who do you think will step up? -- Tony, Merced, Calif.
The outfield looks to be solidified in two spots, with Hunter manning center and Cuddyer securing right field. The one open spot appears to be left field. With Kubel hobbled by lingering problems in both knees from his injury in 2004, he was unable to establish himself into the position like the Twins hoped he would this year.
The club could go out and find a left fielder, but if the team decides to stick with White, along with still having Tyner available as well, that seems like a very limited possibility. It looks instead like it could be a competition between Tyner and Kubel, at least for right now.
The Twins mailbag will run every Monday during the offseason so please keep those questions coming!
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.