Twins targeting pitcher in Rule 5 draft

DALLAS - The Twins plan to take a pitcher with their second overall selection in the Rule 5 draft, which takes place at 9 a.m. Thursday and signals the end of the annual winter meetings.

Teams have been contacting the Twins about swinging a draft-day deal, which brings back memories of the 2000 draft. That's when the Twins had the first overall pick and Florida, with the second pick, traded lefthander Johan Santana to them.

The Twins also acquired outfielder Shane Mack in the Rule 5 draft in 1990, so they know there's a chance to land a player who can be useful.

"It's a legitimate way to acquire talent for a reasonable price," General Manager Terry Ryan said.

The Twins will listen to offers for the pick if they can get back someone they really like. Here are some of the pitchers available, all righthanders:

Justin Fitzgerald, Giants: Has started and relieved in his career. Throws in the low 90 miles-per-hour range.

Rhiner Cruz, Mets: Fastball in the upper 90s but shaky control.

Terry Doyle, White Sox: Good control. Pitched in Arizona Fall League.

Brad Meyers, Nationals: Good control. Pitched in Class AAA this year.

Johan Yan, Rangers: Converted infielder had a 0.34 ERA in 19 games at Class AA level.

Whoever the Twins select will cost the Twins $50,000 and must stay on the 25-man roster for the entire year or be offered back to the original team for half of the claiming fee.

Cuddyer, Kubel decline arbitration

As expected, free-agent outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel both declined the Twins' offer of arbitration, but the team remains hopeful to bring one of them back. Ryan said Wednesday that it will be hard to afford both of them.

Ryan hoped to have further conversations on Thursday with representatives for both players. Cuddyer has a three-year, $24 million offer on the table.

The Twins really would like to know what Cuddyer's plans are, because the money they are offering him could be offered to other free agents.

"I think they would like to get something done sooner than later as well," Ryan said. "There's a point where everyone would like to have some finality as to if they are coming back here."

Etc.

• The Twins have interest in lefty Jeff Francis and righty Paul Maholm.

• Mike Radcliff, the Twins vice president in charge of player personnel, was honored Wednesday for being the Midwest Scout of the Year.

• The Twins will be in Houston next week for the workout of former Tigers reliever Joel Zumaya, who is trying to come back after elbow surgery.

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