There is a possible plot twist to Jason Kubel’s free agency that people aren’t really talking about. With the news yesterday that Kubel is still resting his foot and hasn’t resumed hit offseason routine yet, that twist becomes a little more interesting.

Also, while the free agent market for outfielders is usually described as thin, that’s because it is very thin at the top level. (That “Cha-CHING!” sound you just heard came from Michael Cuddyer’s agent.) But there are some interesting names a little further down the hierarchy, and the Twins may be shopping in that section if they lose Cuddyer and Kubel.
As such, I’m pulling a section about Kubel few free agent profiles from the TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook from the “midde” of the free agent outfielders list that talk about Kubel, his interesting option and some of those intriguing names. But first, three things about the handbook:
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From the Twins Free Agent Decisions area:
Jason Kubel
Kubel is a Type B free agent, and the Twins will offer him arbitration. I suspect he’ll turn that down, but it wouldn’t be absolutely crazy for him to accept it. After two sub-par years, he’s young enough that he could decide to play for one more year and try the free agent market again next year, after a better season.
If he decides to test the market, he’ll find himself among the top five most desirable outfielder names – and the youngest of them, too. At just 29 years old, he could easily be seen as a steal – a guy just hitting his prime that is overlooked because of some bigger names. A three-year deal for a reasonable number (~$20M) would fill a need for some teams and still allow Kubel another chance at free agency when he’s just 32. Would the Twins be interested in him at that number?
It might depend on the timing, more than the money. The Twins would certainly be more interested in retaining Cuddyer than Kubel, partly because the Twins need more right-handed hitters in their lineup and partly because of Cuddyer’s leadership in the clubhouse. If another team is aggressive and makes Kubel decide before Cuddyer signs, the Twins might not be ready to ante up.

From Free Agent Outfielders section
Coco Crisp
Age: 31 (11/1/79) | 2011 Salary: $5.75M
Stats: .264/.314/.379, 8 HR, 54 RBI
He plays center field, he gets on base at a reasonable clip, he’s got a little power and he stole 43 bases this year. He’s basically everything the Twins would like Denard Span to be. This looks like another mid-level guy that will have some clever GMs licking their chops in anticipation.
Estimated Contract: 3 years, $24 million
Jason Kubel
Age: 29 (5/25/82) | 2011 Salary: $5.25M
Stats: .273/.332/.434, 12 HR, 58 RBI
I guarantee you that there are some savvy GMs sitting in the weeds, targeting a 29-year-old with a career OPS of 833 versus right-handed pitchers, despite an injury-plagued year with a bad foot. The question is whether he’ll take a multi-year deal for ~$6M per year or prefer a one-year deal for more money and try to increase his value. I kind of bet the former.
Estimated Contract: 3 years, $20 million
Cody Ross
Age: 30 (12/23/80) | 2011 Salary: $6.3M
Stats: .240/.325/.405, 14 HR, 52 RBI
He’s young and he’ll always have that 2010 playoffs run. He also put up his substandard OPS in AT&T Park, which should count for something.
Estimated Contract: 2 years, $10 million
David DeJesus
Age: 31 (12/20/79) | 2011 Salary: $6M
Stats: .240/.323/.376, 10 HR, 46 RBI
I’d like to call him yet another sleeper, except for this thumb thing. A torn ligament in his thumb cost him the second half of 2010, after which the Royals traded him. He played out his last year with the A’s, really struggled to the point where he was platooning, and then missed time with soreness in the same thumb. GMs might be wondering if that is a lingering problem. Before last year, he was an on-base machine, so I think he’ll have his choice of some decent one-year “prove it” offers.
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5.5 million (plus incentives)
Johnny Damon
Age: 37 (11/5/73) | 2011 Salary: $5.25M
Stats: .261/.326/.418, 16 HR, 73 RBI
He played mostly designated hitter for Rays, but 37-year-old beggars can’t be choosers. However, I wouldn’t be shocked if someone would let him play left field, which would lessen the negative impact of his weak arm. His offensive numbers improved over last year, so one way or the other, I think there’s a job out there.
Estimated Contract: 1 year, $5 million

While you’re waiting for the Handbook to arrive, there is still lots of other Twins stuff to check out:
  • Parker asks whether re-signing Joe Nathan is a good idea for the Twins – by looking at his velocity throughout the year and pitch charts that map his control. That’s the kind of analysis that is a level (or three) deeper than most sportswriters will go.
  • If you’re more of a listener, Seth has links to his Weekly Minnesota Twins Podcast, the granddaddy of Twins podcasts. This week the Twins in the Arizona Fall League and about how a Twins prospect led Team Canada to a win in the Pan Am games this week week over (ugh) Team USA.
  • And, The Gleeman and the Geek podcast is twice as good this week because there are two of them. We divided it into two parts and still had to cut it short because we got kicked out (maybe “gently nudged out” is a better term) of the bar we were in.
In Part 1, we talk about the latest Twins news, including how likely Nathan is to return. In Part 2, I unveil my offseason blueprint and Aaron lists other options. We also get sidetracked by topics like our comments section, my weekend and Ron Gardenhire’s aversion for platoons.Thanks again to for helping distribute it. Here are:

- the podcasts

- the rss feed if you want to subscribe and

- the podcast on iTunes (where you can also subscribe).