I'm a slow processor, so I'm just now coming to terms with the fact that this season sucks. In an attempt to ladder me out of this pit, I thought it might be interesting to look at some catcher/1b/DH options for next year. Actually I'm looking at back up catchers that have enough bat to DH and could be used at first in a pinch. I'm hoping the front office is going to end the Sweet Drew experiment and I'm also assuming that Morneau is going to be healthy enough to play at all, but willing to take it easy and not handle first every second of every day. I'm also working under the assumption that Mauer will still be willing to play some first. And that the Twins could use some actual bench depth, like a decent bat. Also, I think any catcher in the system that might be close could still use more seasoning. And, hey, if this year taught the Twins anything it's that you need people in double/triple A to step up from time to time, so if it comes to that (fingers crossed it doesn't) then there should be a body (beside Butera) to catch a plane from Rochester. Jump the jump for three options.
Ramon Hernandez: I don't think the Reds bring Hernandez back for another year. He turns 36 next May and they have Mesoraco coming and the severely underrated Hannigan already there. (In fact, if the they resign Hernandez, I'd be plenty interested in Hannigan). Hernandez seems to have lost a step offensively and he's averaged about 90 games a year for the last three, but he's still OPSing .773 this season and even if Mauer only catches 4 out of every 7, a backup would only have to catch 70 games.
The problem here is that Hernandez has Type A status (I believe). So the best plan I have is for the Twins to trade Kubel for him right now and work out a two-year deal. The Reds are looking for a middle of the order bat, probably to haunt the outfield. But that's a deal that's probably not happening. (Although I think that about all trades when seen through the lens of Billy Smith.)
Ryan Doumit: I like this one. He's no magician defensively, but who cares? The Pirates tried to move him last offseason and they have Chris Snyder (another bat/catcher worth targeting. He's got a $7.25 mil option that's bound to be declined and he hasn't stayed healthy enough to make that next year. He plays the outfield, so he could get worked in there and he's a career .776 OPSer. He'll turn 31 during Spring Training, so that's feasible.
I don't see the Twins spending $3-5 mil on a backup catcher. But on a backup catcher/outfielder that can hit? Maybe.
Chris Ianetta: The Rockies have him under contract for $3.5 mil next season, but they seem pretty intent on playing Rosario, at least to finish out the season. And they may want to hang onto Ianetta. But if he could be had, he's younger and seems like he may have yet to peak offensively. Even if he is what we think he is that's a 10%+ walk rate and a career ISO of .194. I'll take that.
The trouble is it would have to be a trade. And who do we have to trade? (Outfielders...)
I imagine there are other options. Feel free to add them to the comments below. These are just the three I'd like to see the Twins target. Regardless of the health of Mauer and Morneau next season, even if they play 90% of the Twins games, I'm just hoping the Twins recognize the need for a backup catcher who can hit a little slash an actual bat off the bench. Butera seems like a decent guy, but he handicaps you either way, whether he's playing or sitting. And as much as I appreciate the Twins signing decent guys that can't be behind roster reasoning. Not that I want AJ back, but ... at least he can hit.