No matter how much my Twitter timeline and the vocal majority of Twins fans want it to be, the Twins' pursuit of Korean slugger Byung-ho Park is not about Joe Mauer.
It's about Kennys Vargas, and putting together a powerhouse middle of the lineup, and maybe freeing some young outfielders up for trade.
It's also about putting Miguel Sano at a position where he can grow roots, instead of becoming baseball's first 260-pound, power-hitting super utility player.
If the Twins still thought highly of Vargas, outbidding the rest of baseball for a chance to sign Park wouldn't make sense.
Here's a potential lineup if the Twins are able to sign Park:
CF Byron Buxton/Aaron Hicks
2B Brian Dozier
RF Miguel Sano
3B Trevor Plouffe
LF Eddie Rosario
1B Joe Mauer
C Kurt Suzuki/trade acquisition/free agent
SS Danny Santana/Eduardo Escobar/Jorge Polanco
Buxton is still the centerfielder of the future. I don't think the Twins trust Hicks to turn his promise into everyday production, and now he can be a luxury or trade bait. Max Kepler has star potential and can play anywhere in the outfield, so the Twins might trade Hicks. Or trade Kepler if their internal evaluations aren't as high as their external praise.
This team was loaded with position players before it pursued Park. This dovetails with what I've been hearing from Twins insiders the last two years - they think they can win a World Series with this young core, and they're going to make a push over the next three years.
Regarding the continuing complaint that the Twins are cheap: They outbid 31 teams for Park's rights. They outbid everyone for Sano's rights. They have spent a lot of money on international scouting. And their payroll hasn't risen above the MLB median because they generally don't believe in free agency (and their own mistakes signing free-agent pitchers illustrate why) and their young players haven't been good enough of late to warrent big-money contracts.
If Sano and/or Buxton become stars and the Twins aren't willing to pay them like stars, then you can call them cheap. To date they've simply followed the path of all the truly good franchises in baseball - Kansas City, San Francisco, Tampa Bay, St. Louis - and declined to spend foolishly on free agents.
Tonight at 5:30 p.m., Wild owner Craig Leipold will join me and Michael Russo at Tom Reid's Hockey City Pub for the Russo-Souhan Show from MalePatternPodcasts.com. Please stop by. There will be free Wild tickets and Russo-Souhan t-shirts for those who ask questions.