Happy Tuesday, folks. It's a nice day across Twins Territory. Here's what I have for you first thing.
- The press conference announcing the hiring of Paul Molitor takes place at 10:00 this morning, central time. We'll have an open thread here for discussion. How are you feeling about it this morning, by the way?
- When we first went over the organization's top three internal options for the manager's job, way back on September 29, we had a poll asking which of the three guys you'd like to see or whether you'd prefer to see the team go after an external option. Over 2,000 voted overwhelmingly for Paul Molitor (45%), followed by Mientkiewicz (26%), and then external (21%).
- Mike Pelfrey has been removed from the 60-day disabled list, which means he now counts as taking up a roster spot. His inclusion means the Twins have 36 players on their 40-man roster.
- Byron Buxton has had surgery to repair the broken middle finger on his left hand. He'll be ready for Spring Training.
- A number of players were extended qualifying offers yesterday: Max Scherzer, Victor Martinez, David Robertson, Melky Cabrera, James Shields, Hanley Ramirez, Pablo Sandoval, Nelson Cruz, Russell Martin, Francisco Liriano, Michael Cuddyer, and Ervin Santana. Almost all of those offers are expected, with the same number of players almost a lock to decline. The only player who might accept would be Michael Cuddyer, whose age and recent injury history could drive other contract offers down so low as to come in below the one-year, $15.3 million guaranteed by the qualifying offer. Every other player can maximize earnings by taking a multi-year offer from someone else for money that is a shoe-in to be higher than that figure - even if it's at a lower AAV. Liriano, for example, could (in spite of the QO) come away with a three-year contract worth $24 to $36 million. But even if he hits a rough market, a one-year deal at a destination of his choosing will still earn him at least $10 million. The balance definitely tips in favor of his declining the offer, as it will with most of the players on that list.
- We went over a few free agent names on Sunday, touching on guys who were brought up by MLB.com's Rhett Bollinger and MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes. Things have already changed since then, with Cuddyer being offered a qualifying offer and not being worth a second-round pick. Yesterday, SI.com's Ben Reiter listed off his top 50 free agents and concluded that Ervin Santana and Torii Hunter would be good fits for the Twins. Is Santana worth a second-round pick? Some pitchers would be, but I'm not convinced Santana is that guy - at least not for a team still trying to get to .500. The front office may disagree with me on that one. Hunter, meanwhile, would probably not be opposed to a return to Minnesota...provided he doesn't get an offer to play with a team more likely to have a crack at a ring. But if there's still a roster spot and Hunter is still available, why not? The Twins could do worse. Still, it does seem unlikely.
- Who are the free agents for whom you'd be willing to sacrifice a second-round pick? My list is short: Scherzer, Shields, Ramirez.