Breaking Down the Twins' Middle Infield Scenarios: Tsuyoshi Nishioka, J.J. Hardy, Orlando Hudson and Alexi Casilla

As Bobomojo outlined this morning, the Twins have offered arbitration to Type-B free agent Orlando Hudson. This isn't unexpected, but with rumors that he might accept Minnesota's offer (and with news on the Tsuyoshi Nishioka posting not due for a while), how might this change what the Twins will do to their infield?

This is a situation that will make itself clear in a relatively short time, but right now there are a lot of flaming swords up in the air. Let's run through our cast of characters.

Orlando Hudson: Ken Rosenthal has a great take on the Derek Jeter situation, but he also has something to say about the situation with the Twins and O-Hud:

The Twins offered arbitration to second baseman Orlando Hudson, a Type B free agent, but almost certainly under the condition that Hudson would reject.

Teams often make such gentlemen’s agreements with Type B free agents in order to collect a supplement draft pick. No harm is done to the signing team, which does not lose a pick.

The Twins, when they signed Hudson to a one-year, $5 million free-agent contract, agreed not to offer him arbitration if he was a Type A free agent. Hudson likely reciprocated by agreeing not to accept if he was a Type B.

This strikes me as something that makes sense, and I buy it. But until he makes that decision public, we don't really know what Hudson will do. He has to make his decision by November 30.

Tsuyoshi Nishioka: The posting for the Japanese middle infielder closed yesterday, but according to this the Chiba Lotte Marines have until December 1 to decide whether to accept the winning bid or not. If anyone is counting, that's a week from today. Right now it seems the bidding is down to the Twins and Red Sox, since the Orioles didn't jump into the fray after all.

J.J. Hardy: One of the best defensive shortstops in baseball with offensive upside, Hardy is arbitration eligible and under team control. If the Twins are going to non-tender him, they have to do it no later than December 2.

Alexi Casilla: No matter what happens, Casilla will be with the Twins for at least one more season and he's the only guy out of these four that we know with 100% certainly will be around. The only question is what role he will play: starting shortstop, starting second baseman or bench infielder.

After the jump we'll play with scenarios to see who might come out where.

Remember basic programming tutorials for your graphic calculator? Or maybe your laptop? If [blank], then [blank]. Or if [blank] and [blank], then [blank]. This is how we'll predict the future for the middle infield of the Twins. We'll go from most likely to least likely scenarios.

If Orlando Hudson...

arbitration, and the Twins

their bid on Tsuyoshi Nishioka, then:

declines

lose

2B Casilla, SS Hardy

declines

win

2B Casilla, SS Nishioka, bye bye Hardy

accepts

lose

2B Hudson, SS Casilla, bye bye Hardy

accepts

win

2B Hudson, SS Nishioka, IF Casilla, bye bye Hardy

That last one is a real doosie.

Obviously there's a little room for interpretation here. Maybe in the middle two situations the Twins decide to keep Hardy and shift Casilla to the bench (and adjust Nishioka accordingly in scenario #2). From where I'm sitting though, it sounds like the Twins will take any excuse they can to get faster and more versatile, and Hardy is neither of those things.

Of course it's all speculation at this point, and while we could hear news on all three of the moving pieces in this one at any time, chances are we'll have to wait until next week...at which point these pieces will all magically fall into place and we can talk about how silly this post was.

Enjoy your Wednesday afternoons.

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