December 9, 2009

What else could the Twins possibly have up their sleeves?

Bob Nightingale of USA Today reported that the Twins and Padres have discussed a trade that would send Glen Perkins to San Diego in exchange for Kevin Kouzmanoff. In the same report, Nightingale said that the Twins would need to include more to complete a deal. How much more remains to be the question.

Perkins is believed to be expendable with Carl Pavano returning to the rotation, and given that the organization and Perkins haven't exactly seen eye-to-eye in recent months, it makes sense that the Twins would look into trading him. As for Kouzmanoff, the Padres are looking to trim payroll any way that they can. Kouzmanoff plays a good third base, but Chase Headley is still believed to be the third baseman of the future and is much cheaper. Kouzmanoff is heading into his first year of arbitration, where he'll could receive upwards of $3 million.

(Getty Images)

Personally, I wouldn't mind the trade as long as the "more" that Nightingale mentioned wasn't in the form of a top prospect. As many know, I'm a big supporter of Danny Valencia, who would be affected most by this move. The Twins seem pretty apprehensive about handing the reigns of third base to Valencia, but at the same time, they still make it known that he's likely the future third baseman.

Kouzmanoff is under team control through 2012, which is great, but not for Valencia. I personally think that Valencia could be every bit as good as Kouzmanoff if given the opportunity, but like every prospect, there's always the risk factor. But blocking Valencia isn't why I think this deal won't get done. Instead, it's something that Twins fans have had to put up with for years, and that they probably won't be willing to pay his salary. But at least this time, it's much more understandable.

The Twins, at this moment, have a projected payroll of just under $90 million for 2010, according to Joe Christensen. And lets not forget that Joe Mauer still hasn't been re-signed, which could easily add an additional $8-10 million to the payroll alone. As Nick Nelson of Nick's Twins Blog points out, the Twins payroll is already up around $25 million since Opening Day 2009, which is pretty remarkable.

Unless the Twins are looking to have a payroll of over $100 million, which would surprise...well... just about everyone, there's probably not much more that they'll do. The only logical salary-dump player would be Jesse Crain who may get close to $3 million through arbitration. If the Twins intend on keeping Crain on the roster, they'll likely be looking at either going with Brendan Harris at third base, as Ron Gardenhire mentioned yesterday, or signing someone like Joe Crede, who won't break the bank by any means.

The Twins could trade either Joe Nathan or Michael Cuddyer to free up cap space, but at this time, that doesn't appear to be likely. Nathan is due $35 million over the next three years and would fetch a good return if he is traded. Cuddyer is due $19 million over the next two seasons but probably won't give the Twins much more than another high salary player.

So as it stands, I'm not sure what else the Twins will be doing this off-season. Obviously I expect them to do something, but I really have no clue as to what direction they'll go. It appears that they're looking at adding a third baseman, but I just don't know how they'll do so with the payroll already near $90 million. Unless the Twins are willing to allow their payroll to exceed $100 million, I don't see how they can do much more.

Forgive me for being a bit skeptical of the Twins trading for a player like Kouzmanoff or adding any second-tier free agents for that matter. I would love to see the Twins look into adding either Orlando Hudson or Felipe Lopez to play second base, but both of those players seem very unlikely at this point. I just don't see how them going above $100 million next season which obviously would limit any moves from here on out. But as I said, they'll do something, I just don't have the slightest clue what.