At least out loud, the Twins have stressed their offseason needs as adding speed and adding right-handed hitting. Hence you can fully understand why the team is still at least mildly interested in 40 year old left-handed bench bat Jim Thome. Right?
There is no question that Jim Thome played a very important role for the Twins in 2010. At $1.5 million, he was the best bargain free agent on the season. This offseason, people in the Thome camp have said that he would like to make up for making so little in 2010. He is apparently garnering interest from the Rangers and the Rays, among other teams. He posted one of his best seasons of the decade in 2010 when he hit .283/.412/.627 with 16 doubles and 25 home runs. He has 589 career home runs so the 600 milestone is certainly in his sites. Thome is certainly worth thinking about bringing back. If he is willing to play for $4 million or less, the Twins are likely happy to bring him back. That said, the other teams might be willing to pay more. If the Twins do not bring back Thome, what are their options. We shall discuss here today, and feel free to comment on who you think the best choices are.
If the Twins choose not to add a free agent bench bat, the top prospect to consider for the role would be Luke Hughes. He is a right-handed, and although he is not a great defender, he can play three outfield positions, 3B, 2B and 1B. He could get at bats as the right-handed DH and pinch-hitter as well. We had the opportunity to see a little bit of his power when, in his first major league at bat, he homered off of the Tigers' Max Scherzer. Of course, hitting has not been his problem in recent years. Staying healthy is his problem. But if he is a role player, maybe that will help his durability.
Other options for a bench bat include Trevor Plouffe, Steve Singleton, Dustin Martin, Jeff Bailey and Chase Lambin.
There are several free agent bats that are still available as of right now. Here are nine options, each of which is a right-handed bat, for you to consider. Who makes the most sense?
Mike Sweeney - the long-time Royals 1B/DH has been a bit of a nomad the last few years. He split to the 2010 season between the Mariners and the Phillies. In 56 games, he hit .252/.321/.444 with five doubles and eight home runs. He could play some 1B if absolutely necessary. Likelihood - Likely would only need a minor league deal with big league invite, but odds are very low.
Manny Ramirez - Manny Being Manny was traded from the Dodgers to the White Sox near the deadline. In just 90 games in 2010, he hit .298/.409/.460 with 16 doubles and nine home runs. The 38 year old is very unlikely to sign with the Twins for many reasons, the most important being that he could very well be done.
Jermaine Dye - Dye missed the entire 2010 season. He had some offers but felt they were too low, so he sat out the whole year. In 2009, he hit 29 home runs but played really bad right field. After missing the season, will he come down on his salary expectations, or is a one year, $2 million enough to sign up the36 year old?
Vlad Guerrero - The 35 year old hit .300/.345/.496 with 27 doubles and 29 home runs in 152 games. His OPS was very similar to Delmon Young's in 2010. In his career, he has hit .325/.406/.588 against left-handers. But Guerrero is likely looking for more than $6 million so don't expect the Twins to sign him.
Andruw Jones - The Yankeees allegedly want the 33 year old from Curacao as a backup outfielder. With the White Sox in 2010, he hit .230/.341/.486 with 19 homers. Against lefties in his career, he has hit .261/.361/.401 against lefties. He can play some outfield still, but he's mainly a pinch-hitter and DH.
Marcus Thames - The 33 year old played in 82 games in 2010 with the Yankees. He hit .288/.350/.491 with seven doubles and 12 homers. In his career against lefties, he has hit .264/.333/.505. He can play the corner outfield positions and even got a game at 3B in 2010.
Troy Glaus - The 34 year old played in 128 games for the Braves a year ago, and it was a roller coaster. After a bad April, he was the NL's player of the month in May. By mid August, the Braves traded for the struggling Derrick Lee, and Glaus became a pinch hitter and bench bat. He can play a little at 1B and even played some 3B for Atlanta in the playoffs. Overall, he hit .240/.344/.400 with 18 doubles and 16 home runs.
Scott Hairston - The 30 year old played in 104 games for the Padres in 2010. He hit just .210/.295/.346. He played primarily left field, but he played CF and RF as well. in 2008 and 2009, he hit 17 home runs each year. Against lefties, he has hit .278/.331/.498.
Jorge Cantu - Cantu is the youngest player on this list. He has been around for awhile yet won't turn 27 until the end of January. Between the Marlins and Rangers in 2010, he hit a combined .256/.304/.392. Cantu can play 1B and 3B, and also spot-start 2B. Against lefties, he has hit .272/.323/.451 over his caeer;
So, who should the Twins choose? How about Orlando Cabrera or Nick Punto? What factors should go into such a decision What do you think? Jim Thome? Luke Hughes? Or a free agent? What do you think?