The Twins still owe Joe Mauer another $115 million, so they have a considerable investment in keeping catchers healthy. But Terry Ryan isn't convinced that outlawing collisions at home plate is the way to do it.
"If a runner is intentionally going after a catcher, that's one thing," the Twins general manager said. "But if the catcher is blocking the plate, trying to make a play, I'm not sure you can tell a runner trying to score a run that he can't make contact. I guess I lean toward keeping things the way they are, but I'll be interested to hear what everybody has to say about it."
He will get that chance this week, when Major League Baseball's general managers hold their annual meeting, concurrent with an owners meeting, in Orlando. All 30 GMs are expected for three days of discussions, the precursor to baseball's larger winter meetings a month from now, and the agenda is full of administrative and on-field topics.
Protecting catchers being one of the most visible.
"I've listened to ex-catchers, managers, other general managers, and I agree that keeping your players on the field, that's an important consideration. And we've got a big-time catcher in our midst," Ryan said. "But if you change that rule, you'll have to change the one [regarding collisions] at second base, too. It's an interesting subject, but I'm not certain it's as big an issue as some have said."
Ryan and his peers also will hear from former managers Joe Torre and Tony LaRussa and Braves President John Schuerholz about this week's Arizona Fall League test-run of the new instant-replay system planned for the major leagues next season. Exact guidelines and procedures still are being drawn up, "so there are lots of decisions to be made [regarding] how, what, why, how long, all those issues," Ryan said. "We've talked about it every year for the last five years or so."
There are several other topics to hash out, too, such as the status of negotiations with the Japan Central League over a new posting system for players seeking to come to the United States, waiver rules and other front-office sundries. The owners will meet separately, other than a half-day session with the GMs, and are expected to formally endorse a replay system.
There is plenty of work to accomplish that's not on the agenda, too. The seeds of December trades often are planted at November meetings. Ryan said that while he doesn't expect to make any deals in the next few days, there undoubtedly will be plenty of discussion. Last year, he traded Denard Span to Washington for Alex Meyer after the GM meetings.
"You can measure who you match up with, as far as any trading partners," Ryan said. "If what you're looking for doesn't match up with another team, it becomes evident. It can be a significant part of the [trade] process."
Another significant part: meeting with agents who represent this winter's free-agent class. Ryan acknowledged that he plans to meet with agents (whom he would not identify) while in Florida, though he already has spoken to most.
"There aren't as many agents as at the winter meetings, but there will be plenty of them there, shopping their players," Ryan said. "It makes it more convenient, that's all. But [the offseason] is just getting started."