OK, with Jim Thome in the fold, the Twins' projected Opening Day payroll is at $91.4 million, at least according to my calculations. That's for the 25-man roster and up from $65.3 million last year.
What's their next move? As they showed with the Thome signing (one-year, $1.5 million with up to $750,000 in incentives) they are bargain hunting. They still have needs at second base and third base. Re-signing Joe Crede remains a possibility, but last we checked, he was still limbering up for workouts.
(*) FoxSports.com is speculating that the Twins are the third team pursuing 2B Orlando Hudson, along with the Nationals and Rays. I've been told Hudson had little interest in the Twins in the past but seemed humbled after last offseason, when he was a Type A free agent and had to settle for an incentive laden one-year deal with the Dodgers.
Hudson is a Type A free agent again, but the Dodgers did not offer him arbitration, so signing him would not cost the Twins a draft pick. One of the biggest allures to Hudson is the way he'd fit into the No. 2 spot in their lineup, between Denard Span and Joe Mauer. The Twins are discussing it, but my guess is Hudson signs elsewhere.
(*) FoxSports.com (same link, scroll down) also notes that LHP Jarrod Washburn remains interested in the Twins and Mariners. I checked on the Twins' interest in Washburn last week and was told they haven't made a new offer since Washburn rejected their one-year, $5 million bid in December. Was also told those talks took place before Carl Pavano accepted arbitration, so they may no longer want Washburn, even at that price.
This makes sense because their pitching staff is already crowded. Four starters appear set in Pavano, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn. Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing are the leading candidates for the fifth spot, and one of them might need to move to the bullpen. Meanwhile, the bullpen already includes seven big league guys: Joe Nathan, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch, Jesse Crain, Pat Neshek, Jose Mijares, Clay Condrey.
Even without a Washburn signing, there is a log-jam there that needs to be addressed. Unless someone gets hurt in spring training (always a possibility), the Twins probably will have to trade a pitcher. Among the pitchers with minor-league options are Perkins, Neshek, Duensing and Mijares.
I've been told that several teams are interested in Perkins but want to see him throw in spring training, since he's coming off an injury-riddled season.
Note: The Twins need to trim someone from the 40-man roster to make room for Thome, but not until he takes a physical this weekend during TwinsFest. Thome's physical is an expected formality, but it buys the Twins time to deliberate the corresponding move.