With former Pirates catcher Ryan Doumit officially signed to a one-year, $3 million deal, the question for the Twins becomes: How will they use him?
General Manager Terry Ryan stressed Wednesday that the Twins signed Doumit as a catcher. Of course, Joe Mauer hopes to bounce back next season and catch 130 games.
"Last year, we just didn't have enough depth out of the position when Joe went down," Ryan said. "But this is an added bonus, that [Doumit's] athletic enough to go out and play the outfield and certainly can DH. And he does bring some pop in his bat."
A switch-hitter, Doumit led all National League hitters with a .404 average last September, but he's a below-average defensive catcher. He has 32 career starts at first base, but only five since 2006.
"Of all the positions I play, [first base] is probably the one I feel the least comfortable at, just because I don't feel like I've gotten the reps," Doumit said.
Doumit's only outfield experience has come in right field. He didn't play there last year but started 17 games in right for Pittsburgh in 2010.
Doumit, 30, said he was hoping to sign a one-year deal with an American League team, which suggests he hopes to rack up some extra at-bats in the DH role.
"I think it's safe to say that with Ryan and Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer and maybe whoever else comes in to play the outfield, we'll have a little bit of a floating DH," Ryan said.
Drew Butera has been Mauer's primary backup the past two years, but he batted .167 in 93 games last season. Butera still could make the roster as a third catcher.
"Drew is a pretty good complement [to Doumit] because we all know he can catch and throw," Ryan said. "He's going to come in and compete for a spot, just like normal."
Perkins won't close
Ryan confirmed that the Twins don't plan to make Glen Perkins their closer now that Joe Nathan has signed with the Rangers.
The Twins are looking for a closer on the free-agent and trade market, and re-signing Matt Capps remains a real possibility.
"History says you might want to have somebody who has [closing] experience, and usually people pitch themselves into that situation," Ryan said. "Granted, [Perkins] had a very good year; he just doesn't have the experience."
As expected, the Twins offered arbitration to free-agent outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel but not to Capps.
Though the Twins can still re-sign these players, the arbitration offers are made to ensure teams draft-pick compensation if Type A and Type B free agents sign elsewhere.
Cuddyer (Type A) and Kubel (Type B) are expected to decline arbitration, because that would pin them to a one-year agreement and both are seeking multi-year deals. Capps became a modified Type B free agent under the new collective bargaining agreement, so the Twins did not to have offer him arbitration to gain a draft pick if he leaves.