By Joe Christensen
The Twins checked back with Atlanta about shortstop Yunel Escobar’s availability this week, when it appeared the Braves were close to re-signing shortstop Rafael Furcal, a person familiar with the discussions told the Star Tribune.
The talks didn’t go very far. At the time, Atlanta planned to use Escobar and Furcal, by moving Furcal to second base. Now, Furcal has pulled back and agreed to a three-year, $30 million deal with the Dodgers. So it appears Escobar is staying put as the Braves’ shortstop.
The Twins continue to explore shortstop options even though they have re-signed Nick Punto. Manager Ron Gardenhire said Punto would be the starting shortstop if he re-signed, but Punto’s versatility is well-known, and the Twins don’t want to limit their their search to the frustrating third base market.
They still have strong interest in Milwaukee’s J.J. Hardy, but so far, the pitching-depleted Brewers have not expressed a willingness to trade him. If the Twins can’t find a satisfactory trade, they are willing to move forward with Punto at shortstop and a platoon of Brendan Harris and Brian Buscher at third base.