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Are the Twins Really In on Brian Fuentes?

Apart from Roger hosting his daily votes for Twinkie Town's top 50 prospects for 2011, the only thing of note that's been bantered about over the last couple weeks in regards to our Twins is the ongoing saga of Carl Pavano and the Case of the Elusive Three Year Contract. So we'll grab onto this Brian Fuentes talk.

The latest and greatest from Ken Rosenthal is that there are still a number of teams who are interested in the man who can shut down left handed hitters as well as anyone else in the game (.211/.301/.306 triple slash against in his career). He lists the Twins as a potential suitor, along with the Rays, Yankees and Red Sox, while Jon Heyman went so far as to list 11 teams who are in the hunt. What Rosenthal offers, though, is Fuentes' supposed asking price: $5 million per on a multi-year contract. It's reasonable to assume that any team offering just one year would need to raise that bar.

I have no problem with the Twins having interest in Fuentes. We've documented, on multiple occasions over the last couple of months, that Minnesota's bullpen is one area that could do with a little more stability going into next season. Especially with Joe Nathan being something of a question mark, being able to fortify the back end of the relief corps with Matt Capps and Brian Fuentes instead of Capps and Jose Mijares can only be a good thing.

My only real question is whether or not it's the best investment the Twins could make. Is it worth spending $24 million on Nathan, Capps and Fuentes? With a payroll sitting around an estimated $100 million, adding Pavano ($10 million) and Jim Thome (maybe $5 million?) would push payroll to the limit anyway. Sure, if the front office thought that Fuentes was the piece that could really make a difference I doubt they'd pull the plug for $5 million more, but you have to draw the line somewhere.

It's been a long couple of weeks in rumorville, but the offseason still has a few more weeks to shake itself out. At this time last year the Twins still hadn't signed Orlando Hudson or Thome, two integral pieces of their run in 2010. Are there similar players sitting on the market this year that could have the same impact? Beau likes Derrek Lee for $8 million for a year. A healthy Troy Glaus can hit lefties and backup Justin Morneau at first base. Would Nick Johnson, who has a career. 422 on-base percentage versus lefties, consider a bench/platoon role as a designated hitter? I don't know, I'm just throwing out names at this point.

For rightt now however, it seems the most likely free agents to possibly come to Minnesota are Pavano and Thome. Maybe something will change as we move into 2011.