Right. If you saw this coming I will give you a high-five.
With Brendan Harris entering just his first year of arbitration, the Twins have taken a chance and signed the 29-year old infielder to a two-year contract. In 2010 Harris will pull down $1.45 million, while in 2011 he's due to make $1.75 million.
Harris is a versatile infielder who has logged innings at second, third and short in each of the last four seasons. He's athletic and, for a middle infielder, has some pop in his bat. By signing him to a two-year deal the Twins likely save money over what he would make through his second year of arbitration next winter, and cost certainty has it's value--particularly when 2011 looks to be an even more expensive season for Twins payroll than 2010. One more thing: when you're dealing with experienced backup middle infielders, it's often best to go with The Devil You Know. As utility players go, you could do a whole lot worse than Brendan Harris.
It's difficult to say whether this move was necessary. Not a "bad" move, but a "necessary" one. While the move may save the Twins a couple hundred grand (chump change in Major League Baseball), it makes it harder for Minnesota to cut ties with him if circumstances change between this off-season and next. Cost certainty is nice, but over six digits for a utility infielder some are more concerned about what's likely to be a guaranteed roster space.
This is a great move for Harris and more of an indifferent maneuver for the Twins in terms of benefit. Some feel as though this signals the end of the search for alternatives at second and third base, now that both he and Nick Punto are under contract and Alexi Casilla under team control, but all three of these guys would have been around this summer anyway. The ramifications of this deal have more to do with 2011 than 2010.
In fact, the biggest factor to point out in the wake of Harris' two-year deal is that it might spell the end of the Punto Era in Minneapolis following this season. Punto, 32 in 2010, has a $5 million club option for 2011 with a $500,000 buyout. Now that Harris is on the books for next year, along with J.J. Hardy and Casilla, a lackluster season from our King of Forearms could result in his free agency.
I didn't exect this. I'm not sure many people did. But ultimately it's not really a bad move as much as it makes me raise an eyebrow. Hopefully Harris has a decent season and I will seem silly for wondering why the Twins chose to avoid a year of arbitration for a utility infielder.
First Base Utility / Minnesota Twins
Aug 26, 1980
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