Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.

Twins haven't ruled out Cuddyer's return; hope rising internally

Posted by: Phil Miller under MLB, Twins offense, Twins rumors Updated: December 15, 2011 - 12:07 PM

There is growing hope within the Twins organization that they might be able to re-sign Michael Cuddyer, despite already signing free agent outfielder Josh Willingham to a three-year, $21 million deal.

"I would not rule out anything at this point, including Cuddyer," one Twins official said this morning in a text message.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan has kept an open dialogue going with Cuddyer's agent, Casey Close. To my knowledge, the Twins still haven't pulled their three-year, $24 million offer off the table.

With Willingham in the fold -- and no Cuddyer or Jason Kubel -- the Twins projected Opening Day payroll is about $96 million, and Ryan has said he doesn't want to spend more than $100 million. But Ryan also has made it known that he'd be willing to talk to ownership about going beyond $100 million under the right circumstances.

Well, picture this lineup:

1. CF -- Denard Span (bats L)
2. SS -- Jamey Carroll (R)
3. C -- Joe Mauer (L)
4. LF -- Josh Willingham (R)
5. 1B -- Justin Morneau (L)
6. RF -- Michael Cuddyer (R)
7. DH -- Ryan Doumit (S)
8. 3B -- Danny Valencia (R)
9. 2B -- Alexi Casilla (S)

Now that looks like an American League lineup.

The Twins would miss Ben Revere's range in left field, but Cuddyer's bat certainly makes up for it. The question is, would Cuddyer be willing to come back to Minnesota at a price that might be less than he hoped?

The Twins also have drawn a line with their offer to Cuddyer, insisting this is as far as they want to go. If another team is willing to sign him to a three-year, $30 million deal, maybe he'll move on, but so far, there have been no rumors that such an offer is out there.

The Rockies and Mariners have been mentioned as teams hoping to land Cuddyer this week. At one point, the Phillies were being aggressive, but it doesn't sound like they made anything close to a three-year, $30 million offer. The Red Sox have not pursued Cuddyer to the extent some people thought they would.

Cuddyer's camp has been extremely quiet all week. Close has ignored repeated interview requests throughout the process.

This could get interesting again. Stay tuned.

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