The infield shores up, kinda.First, I would like to thank Christian at All Baseball for inviting me to do some writing for them. He asked me to produce a short article discussing how DC views the move.
Second, the team has signed Vinny Castilla to play third and the switch hitting Cristian Guzman to play short. Castilla got 2 years and $6.2M. Guzman got 4 years, with no disclosure on the financials.
Hopefully they didn't make out too badly on Guzman, because the free agent market is so swamped with shortstops. The Twins declined a $5.25M option on him, so I would expect something on the order of $16-$17M for 4 years. If so, I think this is probably overpaying, because while many have expected for him to take off for several years in a row, he's remained pretty marginal (last year he had a .274/.309/.384 with an unspectacular VORP of 14.8). His batting average is not so bad for his position, but he has no power and he doesn't walk. The upside is that he's only 27, and he's above average defensively (last year, he was actually very good). He used to hit a lot of triples, he used to be very fast. After hitting 14 triples in 2003, he settled for 4 this year, and his stolen bases dropped from 18 to 10 (both times he got caught stealing 1/3 of the time).
Aaron Gleeman, who blogs the Twins extensively, has this to say about Guzman:
He has a sub par work ethic, has never been in great shape, is constantly showing signs of losing his speed, and doesn't strike me as a player who is going to play at a high level into his 30s (or in his 20s, but that's another issue).
Ick. I'll cross my fingers.
As for Castilla, I can at least say I'm glad we didn't shell out to get either Tony Batista or Troy Glaus in the hot corner. Still, Castilla is no prize once you take him out of Coors Park, particularly at 28. While he did hit 21 dingers on the road as opposed to only 14 at Coors, at Coors he hit .321/.379/.575, whereas everywhere else he hit a paltry .218/.281/.493. Compare that to Batista who hit .241/.272/.455, and made 1/2 as much as we're paying Castilla.
But, I do like people who know how to walk. So if it was a choice between of signing either one of those guys at 2 years and $6M, then I would have taken Castilla. If we need RFK to be a hitters park for Castilla to pay off, maybe they'll move the fences ;-)
Ick. I'll cross my fingers.
As we projected in the comments a while ago, our probable payroll after arbitration was probably at $34.5M for next year. Now it's probably at $42M. That means we've probably got $13-$15M to go. We know that we're looking for a starter, and there may be some trades to come. Particularly given the track record of our GM, I wouldn't be surprised to see us sign a moderately big name with a back-loaded contract, then trade for junk to fill any other needs (e.g., backup catcher). As we've seen in his interest in Guillen, he will probably get the best name he can strike a deal with, and not worry about who he'd be pushing off the roster... so it would potentially be a power-hitting outfielder.
Or, maybe he'll trade for a big name and sign or trade for the dregs to fill in any gaps. I read somewhere that the Guillen deal is off the table, though. Apparently, Anaheim was asking for something we weren't willing to give.
By the way, we lose three draft picks (Castilla is a Type A free agent, Guzman a type B).