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Winter Meetings Primer, 2009

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Sure, it's a rumor-filled week that generally leads to nothing. But it's still a rumor-filled week, and to me that equals fun.

Twins Needs

  • Second Base
  • Third Base
  • Starting Pitcher
  • Bench Depth
  • Joe Mauer Extension

Between LEN III and Joe C., the Twins have been tied to a few names already this off-season: Mark DeRosa, Rich Harden, Adrian Beltre, Jarrod Washburn and Orlando Hudson. There has been little speculation fueled by comments from the front office, although this has been commonplace during the Bill Smith era. Now entering his third Winter Meetings and in the best position to win since taking on the role of General Manager, it will be interesting to see if the rumors lead to anything concrete this season.

Obviously the Twins are still in the market for at least one infielder after picking up J.J. Hardy a few weeks ago, and the recent (and early) signings of Chone Figgins (four years, $36 million), Placido Polanco (three years, $18 million) and Marco Scutaro (two years, $12.5 million with an option for more) seem to set the market for starting infielders. Considering the combination of age and history I feel like all three teams overpaid, on either years or dollars or both.

Last season at this time there was a lot of talk surrounding Casey Blake and Garrett Atkins, and there's been nothing quite like that this season. This front office, and I've said it before, plays things notoriously close to the vest. Sure, it might not make for interesting discussion fodder, but it serves the best interests of the team.

A vast majority of the time all of the rumors and speculation lead to absolutely nothing during the week of the Winter Meetings. The common theme is for teams to read each other and, if possible, lay a foundation for things to happen over the following weeks. But that doesn't mean we won't hear some interesting tidbits over the next few days.

Names of Interest (after the break)

Adrian Beltre - With the Phillies signing Polanco, one of the Twins main competetors for the free agent third baseman may have just taken themselves out of the market. The biggest issue surrounding Beltre is Scott Boraas and his $10 million per year asking price. Even for his glove, I'm not sure Minnesota is going to fork out that kind of money for Beltre.

Mark DeRosa - He's also been rumored to be asking for nearly $10 million per season. Yikes.

Josh Johnson - The Marlins have said that Johnson won't be traded this off-season, but it's always hard to tell what's truth and what's posturing. If his name comes up this week, or at anytime over the next couple of months, I'll be listening.

Rich Harden - Along with Ben Sheets and Erik Bedard, it will be interesting to see how much teams are willing to gamble on these guys. Will the Twins maintain their interest in Harden?

Jed Lowrie - With the Red Sox the proud owners of a Scutaro, will he be on the block?

Carl Pavano - Will he accept arbitration?

Dan Uggla - The Marlins second baseman has been linked to about half of the teams in baseball at some point over the last couple of months, although no team has been connected more often than the Giants. His offense as a second baseman is superior, and in spite of his defense is still probably a three-win player.

In Closing

The Winter Meetings this season aren't set to be quite as interesting as they were the last couple of seasons, if only because the first thing on everyone's mind isn't really who else the front office can bring in but who can they sign to an extension. "General discussions" between the Twins and Mauer have begun, but nothing hard core so far, so stay tuned.

It's an exciting time of year. Be sure to keep checking back here for the latest rumblings and grumblings.