Twins update: Valencia, Hughes, Buscher, Huber

Posted on November 13th, 2009 – 10:25 AM
By Joe Christensen

Today’s Twins notebook has updates on Joe Crede’s latest back surgery, Jarrod Washburn’s knee surgery, Joe Mauer’s latest Silver Slugger Award (no surprise), David Winfree’s free agent status, and word that the team will be unveiling new-look road uniforms on Monday, over the noon hour at IDS Crystal Court.

Hat tip to SethSpeaks.net on the Winfree item. Winfree was the Twins’ 2005 minor-league player of the year, and they are trying to re-sign him to a minor-league deal.

I’d heard the Twins were a little disappointed with 3B prospect Danny Valencia not playing winter ball.* It’s been said that the Twins can’t count on Valencia becoming next year’s Opening Day 3B when he wasn’t even promoted as a September call-up. But Twins GM Bill Smith isn’t ruling out anything.

(* – Got a tip that Valencia is indeed considering playing one month of winter ball in the Dominican Republic or Venezuela.)

“That will all be determined by Opening Day,” Smith said. “If [Valencia] goes to spring training, and has a great spring training, then that all takes care of itself. We don’t determine all that in November.”

Luke Hughes will be in the mix, too.

“Valencia started [2009] in Double-A, and Hughes started in Triple-A,” Smith said. “When Hughes got hurt, Valencia moved up and did very well in Triple-A. We moved Hughes back to Double-A so they could both play every day, and they both did well. We’ll use that as a springboard to spring training, and we’ll see how everybody does in spring training. I’m sure we’ll have a lot of spirited competition.”

Valencia is considered a better prospect. His combined stat line this year was .285/.337/.466.

Hughes’ combined stat line was .254/.335/.466. But keep in mind that one year earlier, Hughes was in the All-Star Futures Game, and posted a combined line of .309/.369/.524 in a season spent mostly at AA New Britain, with 29 games at Rochester. At 3B, Hughes isn’t as good as Valencia defensively, but don’t count out Hughes just yet.

I also want to clarify a couple of roster notes.

(*) Brian Buscher will become a minor-league free agent on Nov. 20. He was on the 40-man roster, and the Twins did not offer him a 2010 contract before outrighting him to Class AAA Rochester. With Valencia and Hughes, they can’t guarrantee Buscher playing time at third base in the high minors, so they want to give him a chance to explore his options.

(*) 1B Justin Huber also was trimmed from the 40-man roster and outrighthed to Class AAA Rochester, but the Twins had first offered him a 2010 contract. He cleared waivers, so he’s in the fold for next year, which gives the Twins some added depth in case Justin Morneau gets injured again. Huber was extremely well-liked at Rochester, so this is good news for the Twins.

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