By La Velle
The Twins on Friday ended their pursuit of Casey Blake after the sides couldn’t work out a deal for the free agent third baseman, a person with knowledge of the negotiations said.
Unless there’s another team involved, it looks like the Dodgers are in the lead for Blake. Indications are the Twins wouldn’t guarantee a third year in their offer, sticking to two years and an option.
The Twins now will reach out to other teams about a deal for a third baseman or shortstop who can provide some offense. There’s always a chance that the Twins will resume talks with Jim McDowell, Blake’s agent, but with the shortstop market beginning to crystallize and the winter meetings about to kick off in Las Vegas, the Twins are pursuing other leads.
“We’ve got to move here,” the source said. “There are too many things going on.”
The Twins are expected to have discussions with several clubs about infield help.
That includes the Colorado Rockies about Garrett Atkins. The Twins have expressed interest in Atkins before, but the Rockies’ demands have been too high (Kevin Slowey and Denard Span). Maybe the sides can find a common ground in one of the suites at the Bellagio hotel, where the winter meetings will take place.
The Twins might check in with the Mariners about Adrian Beltre. Like the Rockies, the Mariners placed a huge price tag on Beltre when the Twins inquired about him during the regular season. But new Seattle GM Jack Zduriencik might offer a fresh perspective.
The Twins also like Phillies infield prospect Jason Donald, who went .407/.476/.640 in the Arizona Fall League this year. Who wouldn’t like him? But the Phillies might want to hold on to their stud prospect with Chase Utley and Pedro Feliz working their way back from injuries.
The way things are going, the Twins aren’t ruling out making a play for Pirates shortstop Jack Wilson.
There doesn’t appear to be any interest in free agent shortstop Rafael Furcal, given the price and recent injury history. And the Brewers have not shown any willingness to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy.
The Twins feel they need to act fast because Edgar Renteria signed with the Giants, Khalil Greene was traded to the Cardinals and the Braves traded Brent Lillibridge to the White Sox – which means Atlanta must hold on to Yunel Escobar. The list of available shortstops has shrunk.
They know there are teams willing to make deals. Now they just have to find a match. But remember this: In order to deal for a good player, the Twins might have to give up one of their five young starters. If you had J.J. Hardy, who would you want in return for a sure-handed shortstop who can hit 25 homers?
Delmon Young as part of a package? There have been rumblings that the Twins have shopped him around, but I was told yesterday and this morning that’s not true. Yes, the Twins have fielded calls about Young. But they aren’t giving him away. They like the possibility of having great outfield depth next season. And, I was told, they haven’t forgotten what happened when they gave up on David Ortiz.
If they get a third baseman, they could live with a platoon of Matt Tolbert and Brendan Harris at short (although they want Nick Punto back). If they get the shortstop they want, they can live with Harris and Brian Buscher at third.
And the Twins still plan to scrounge around for a reliever at the winter meetings.
That’s all for now. Back to Saturday morning chores……