By Joe Christensen
The Twins have identified White Sox shortstop Orlando Cabrera as someone they might pursue on the free agent market this offseason.
The White Sox will play Game 2 of the Division Series at Tampa Bay today, starting at 5 p.m., so everyone has a chance to study him closely, while examining whether he’d be a good fit for the Twins.
In the meantime, I dusted off my old “Trade Targets” form to help sort through the particulars. This will be the first in an occasional series of Offseason Targets for the Twins.
Name: Orlando Cabrera, White Sox SS
Basics: He turns 34 on Nov. 2. Bats R, Throws R. 5-11, 165 lbs. Born in Cartegena, Colombia. Originally signed by the Montreal Expos in 1993. The White Sox acquired him from the Angels for pitcher Jon Garland last November.
Stats: Batted .281/.334/.371 with 8 home runs and 57 RBI this year. He scored 93 runs. He played in 161 games. His career OPS+, which adjusts for park and league averages, is 86. (Nick Punto had an OPS+ of 96 this year, but his career average is 74.)
Salary: $9 million. He was in the final year of the four-year, $32 million deal he signed with the Angels after helping the Red Sox win the World Series in 2004.
Good Twin because: He’s a two-time Gold Glove Award winner at shortstop (2001 with Montreal and 2007 with the Angels). He plays almost every game with the kind of intensity the Twins love. He’s not a power hitter, but he is a .274 career hitter who is tough to strike out (ranks 10th among active players with 6.7 at-bats per strikeout).
Available?: Sure sounded that way last week at the Metrodome, when this story appeared in the Chicago Sun-Times. The White Sox plan to move Alexei Ramirez to shortstop and let Cabrera walk.
Probable cost: I’m having a tough time predicting how much he’ll get on the free agent market. Guessing he could probably get a three-year, $30 million deal, though teams will have reservations because he’s turning 34 and middle infielders tend to get old in a hurry — see Edgar Renteria.
Potential Batgirl nickname (*You know, if she still ran the greatest blog ever): I think he’s already nicknamed “The O.C.” (As always, I’ll take your suggestions below.)
Odds this signing happens: 5-to-1.
(Note: It’s so early in the offseason, we’re just scratching the surface now, as we chronicle the Twins’ process of shaping the 2009 roster. We try not to scatter shoot with these updates, so while some of you might dream of Manny Ramirez in a Twins uniform, you won’t read about it here unless somebody from MLB actually tells us the Twins might be in pursuit. In Cabrera’s case, that’s what we’re hearing from multiple sources.)