Twins Links: Cuddyer, Waiver Claims, Nathan

Keeping it short and sweet today as I've had a busy week, but some food for thought as we approach free agency. After the jump I'll get into a few Twins-related links that all focus on Twins free agents and a couple of waiver claims that the Twins made yesterday.

  • If you didn't see Darren Wolfson's tweet yesterday, the sense that an attendee of B.J. Upton's charity golf tournament got this past weekend was that Michael Cuddyer is "very much awaiting free agency" (Cuddyer played in the tournament). That's particularly bad news for Twins fans hoping to see Cuddyer retained. He already had plenty of suitors, and he may very well have another plausible one given this next link.
  • The Indians acquired Derek Lowe from the Braves yesterday, receiving nothing more than a 23-year-old A-Ball lefty ...and $5M. The Braves also declined Nate McLouth's $10.65M option, which came as a surprise to no one, but that's an awful lot of money that just freed up for a team that's been looking to add a power bat to their outfield for years now. With left-handed swingers like Brian McCann, Jason Heyward, and Freddie Freeman already in tow, they may prefer a right-handed bat. There's always Josh Willingham, but if nothing else this could easily drive Cuddy's price up higher.
  • As Jesse covered yesterday, the Twins picked up Matt Maloney from the Reds. A few hours after Jesse's post, it was revealed that the Twins had claimed the 27-year-old lefty on waivers. And with that same news came the news that the Twins had claimed right-hander Jeff Gray from the Mariners on waivers as well. Gray is 29 years old, and unlike Maloney, whose fastball sits around 87mph, Gray's got some life on his his heater. He's averaged 93.5mph in his brief MLB career (93.3 in 48.1 innings in 2011), but unfortunately he still fails to miss many bats. He's averaged just 6.6 K/9 in the minors, which doesn't bode well for his Major League strikeout potential. Hopefully, these are just depth moves and the Twins aren't looking at these two as legitimate cogs to their 2012 bullpen, so it's a non-issue.
  • This last one's from a few days back, but hadn't been mentioned on here, so I thought I'd throw it in. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise to anyone, but Joe Nathan's agent said that the long-time Twins closer is excited for free agency and looking for a closing job this winter. A day prior to that, Phil Mackey tweeted that Nathan isn't as interested in money as he is in playing for a winner. Given that Nathan's coming off of a $47M contract, that's not all that surprising. He's made his fortune playing the game, and will likely get a crack at several million more over the remainder of his career. Due to his age, the World Series title becomes a more immediate need. The Twins may need to do some convincing for Nathan to return, although given the strong market for closers, I expect him to return (for what it's worth). He may prefer to close for Minnesota for one more year, build up more value, and enter a less-saturated market. You can draw your own conclusions.
  • Lastly, after Dan Wade pointed this out on Twitter yesterday, I thought it too amusing not to include. Here's a look at a heat map of Jeff Gray's fastball vs. right-handed hitters last year (via www.fangraphs.com). Be still, my beating heart:

462522_r_fa_2011_40_14_2_20110924_medium

    Steve Adams also writes for MLBTradeRumors.com and contributes to MLB.com's Fantasy Baseball and 612Sports.net. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve
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