The Twins have made a three-year, $24 million offer to Michael Cuddyer, but they can't wait forever.
One of their top alternatives if Cuddyer signs elsewhere is Josh Willingham, and Willingham's agent, Matt Sosnick, told The Star Tribune today that his client is nearing a decision.
"Josh has three viable options," Sosnick said. "He and his wife, Ginger, are going to make a decision in the next 48 hours. It may come as early as today."
Sosnick said one of those options is the Twins but declined to name the other teams. The Rockies and Indians are two teams that have been linked to Willingham and Cuddyer this offseason.
Willingham, 32, batted .246 with 29 homers and 98 RBI for Oakland last season. He's a righthanded hitter who would fit the Twins' lineup much like Cuddyer, who turns 33 in March. Last season, Willingham had an .810 OPS, and Cuddyer's was .805.
Could speed Cuddyer's timetable
Earlier today, a person close to Cuddyer said that Cuddyer would make his decision in the next three or four days. This news with Willingham could speed up that timetable.
Also, Twins officials have described their latest overture to Cuddyer as a final offer without specifically using those words, suggesting this is as far as they're willing to go.
There have some reports that it's a three-year, $25 million offer, which could suggest that there's a 2015 option with a $1 million buyout. But Last week, a person familiar with the negotiations told The Star Tribune it was a three-year, $24 million offer.
Twins officials have repeatedly said that Jason Kubel is high on their list, too, even though he's a lefthanded hitter and the lineup currently leans heavily to the left. Plan A for the Twins is Cuddyer, but Willingham and Kubel, in some order, are Plans B and C.
The Twins will only sign one of the three. Keep in mind, they would gain two draft picks -- a first rounder and a sandwich pick between the first and second rounds -- if Cuddyer signs elsewhere.
Comparing Willingham and Cuddyer
The Twins have very good scouting reports on Willingham. His power is evident from his numbers, but they also like his make-up and work ethic, viewing him as a consummate professional. His strikeout rate was a career-high 26.6 percent last season, but the Twins believe that was because Oakland looked to him as their primary home run threat.
Though he played shortstop in college, Willingham has played left field almost exclusively in the majors. Still, Sosnick said Willingham would have no problem moving to right field.
Willingham does not throw as well as Cuddyer and isn't as versatile defensively. Neither has tremendous range, but with Denard Span in center field and Ben Revere penciled in left, the Twins primary need for right field is finding a run-producing bat.