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TWINS NOTES

Twins have some leeway in talks with Monroe

  • Article by: La Velle E. Neal III
  • Star Tribune
  • November 15, 2007 - 1:21 PM

The Major League Baseball office confirmed Thursday that the Twins will be allowed to offer outfielder Craig Monroe a 2008 contract that has a maximum of a 20 percent reduction from his 2007 salary of $4.775 million.

The Twins had earlier thought that they might be able to reduce it 40 percent.

Monroe, acquired by the Twins from the Cubs or a player to be named later on Tuesday, is arbitration eligible. However, the Twins will attempt to sign him for less than what he made last season or they will nontender him in December, making Monroe a free agent.

If the sides can't work out a deal, Monroe will be nontendered and become a free agent who could sign with any club for any salary.

Indications are that the Twins will try to sign him to a one-year deal with incentives. That would reduce their risk while Monroe tries to bounce back from a 2007 season in which he batted .219 with 12 homers and 59 RBI between Detroit and the Cubs.

"I think he's a good fit," Twins general manager Billy Smith said. "He makes us better. He's been a run producer. He had a bad year last year and we're optimistic he can turn that around and be a productive hitter."

If Monroe signs, the Twins will owe the Cubs an extremely low-level prospect.

Etc.

• The Twins are still looking to upgrade at third base, where Nick Punto played most of the season but batted only .210. Free agent Mike Lamb could interest the Twins if they can't swing a deal for help. Lamb, 32, hit .289 with 11 homers and 40 RBI with Houston last season. He doesn't hit for much power and didn't play against many lefties.

• The Twins will remain in contact with the Boston Red Sox over outfielder Coco Crisp in case Torii Hunter leaves via free agency.

La Velle E. Neal III • lneal@startribune.com

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