Twins intent on building playoff contender

Twins intent on building playoff contender

Twins intent on building playoff contender
DALLAS -- The Twins remained busy on Day 2 of baseball's Winter Meetings at the Hilton Anatole, trading right-hander Kevin Slowey to the Rockies and making an offer to free-agent outfielder Michael Cuddyer.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan wasted little time, as his first order of business Tuesday morning was sending Slowey to Colorado for a player to be named.

Ryan wouldn't say when the trade will be finalized, but Minnesota is expected to receive a Minor Leaguer in return for Slowey, who was a non-tender candidate after going 0-8 with a 6.67 ERA last season.

But the big news coming from the Twins was that the club met with Cuddyer's agent, Casey Close, and submitted a formal offer to keep the veteran outfielder in Minnesota. Ryan wouldn't get into specifics about the offer, but it's apparently in the three-year, $24 million range, according to multiple reports.

"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."

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As Ryan pointed out, the Twins are still keeping their options open if Cuddyer -- whose wife Claudia gave birth to twin daughters, Chloe and Madeline, on Tuesday -- is to leave for another team.

The Twins are interested in free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel, as they've already met with his agent, Arn Tellum, in Dallas. The Twins still prefer Cuddyer because of his versatility and right-handed bat, but Kubel remains a viable alternative if Cuddyer leaves.

And they're also tentatively scheduled to meet with fellow free-agent outfielder Josh Willingham's agent, Matt Sosnick, later this week. Willingham, a right-handed bat like Cuddyer, hit .246 with an .810 OPS last season with a career-high 29 homers and 98 RBIs in 136 games with the A's.

The Twins are also actively seeking starting pitching help, but it appears they're waiting on Cuddyer to make a decision before fully delving into the market.

But Ryan made sure to note that even if the Twins do sign Cuddyer, they will still have room in their payroll to improve the pitching staff.

"We always have flexibility," Ryan said. "I don't think you should ever put a finality to that payroll. It's going to be fluid."

Ryan added the club is hoping to add a starter, as it's widely expected that left-hander Brian Duensing will be moved to the bullpen next year. They've been linked to free-agent left-handers Mark Buehrle and Jeff Francis, but Buehrle is expected to be out of their price range.

"We're still looking," Ryan said. "We just traded one. You can't have enough of those guys, but you also have to be realistic and have some common sense. ... It's pretty expensive. Starting pitching isn't the easiest to obtain."

Ryan said the club is still looking for relief help even after agreeing to sign reliever Matt Capps to a one-year deal with an option for '13. Capps will serve as closer next year, but the Twins are still hoping to add pieces to a bullpen that finished with the worst record in the Majors last season.

Ryan also indicated that the goal remains to build a roster capable of competing for a playoff spot next season, and that he doesn't plan on a rebuilding year in '12 even after losing 99 games in '11.

"I'd like to get to the postseason," Ryan said. "It would be nice to win the division, but I think anybody's goal is to make it to the postseason."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.