It's been just over a year since news broke about two seemingly ho-hum signings from the Twins. General manager Terry Ryan's signing of Jared Burton to a minor league contract and news of Jamey Carroll's two-year, $6.75M contract with the Twins both went public on Nov. 11 last season. Carroll's deal became official just a few days later. And, just days after that, Ryan Doumit came into the fold.
In reality, none of the deals could have worked out much better. Carroll's OBP -- one of the primary reasons he was signed -- did take a hit, dropping below .355 for the first time in four seasons. That can be largely attributed to an awful start, though. From May 4 through season's end, Carroll batted .284/.354/.337 with terrific defense, which is pretty much exactly what the Twins were hoping for.
Burton's emergence as a legitimate eighth inning weapon softened the blow when Matt Capps once again fell to injury and disappeared from the bullpen picture. I don't think enough has been made of the fact that Darren Wolfson recently reported an extension for Burton is in the works. Following his strong 2012, arbitration guru Matt Swartz predicts a $2.1M salary for 2013. Perhaps something in the two-year, $6.1M range ($2.1M next season, $3M in 2014 with a $4M club option/$1M buyout for 2015) would work out. That's just speculation on my part, and Burton could well want a third year guaranteed. So long as the price comes in under $10M total for three years, I think an extension is certainly justifiable.
Doumit became a massive bargain at $3M, providing the Twins with an above-average bat (114 OPS+) at DH and catcher before signing a below-market extension for two years and $7M. His presence allowed Joe Mauer to see time at first base and DH without completely punting offense behind the dish, which many (myself included) firmly believe contributed to Mauer's bounceback season.
What these "anniversaries" of sorts, the conclusion of the GM Meetings. and the flurry of hot stove rumors that have been picking up recently all suggest is that we're likely nearing the point in the offseason where the 2013 roster begins to take shape. The Twins have already inked a pair of minor leaguers, one of whom Ryan and his regime are likely hoping can be the Burton of 2013 -- Tim Wood. He lacks Burton's previous Major League success, but he's been pretty damn good in Triple-A, especially in 2012.
Given the amount of trading that Ryan is likely to pursue this offseason, it's a bit more difficult to predict how the offseason will go and when the Twins will get started. I'll refrain from diving into my full offseason blueprint (for now anyway), but just say that if Ryan can can even come close to the success of this trio in November, it'll be a very good offseason. In Terry we trust. At least I do.