Twins Sign Tyner to Minor League Deal:
The Twins signed outfielder Jason Tyner to a Minor League contract on Friday.
Tyner batted .321 (18-for-56) in 18 games after being called up to Minnesota on Sept. 2. In 133 games with Triple-A Rochester, he batted .286 with 18 doubles, two triples, one homer and 36 RBIs.
Last week, the club removed Tyner from its 40-man roster. The 28-year-old was originally signed to a Minor League deal last year and invited to Spring Training. It's likely he will be among the invites to big-league camp this spring.
Minnesota also reinstated right-handed pitcher Grant Balfour and outfielder Jason Kubel from the 60-day disabled list. Balfour missed all of 2005 after having ligament replacement surgery on his right elbow in May. He also had surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his right shoulder on Sept. 29.
Kubel also missed the entire 2005 season recovering from surgery to repair torn anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee, an injury he suffered on Oct. 12, 2004, while playing in the Arizona Fall League. The 23-year-old is continuing his rehabilitation playing in the Twins' Instructional League at Fort Myers, Fla.
Raise your hand if you consider the re-signing of Tyner to be evidence that a Torii Hunter trade is not entirely out of the question.
I'm raising mine. Here's why:
I don't believe for a second that Jacque Jones will be a Twin in 2006. And I think his job is earmarked for whichever of Ford and Kubel does best in Spring Training--with the other having a pretty good shot at DH, unless we acquire one via trade or free agency in the offseason. The market's looking a bit slim (which I intend to get into later in the week) so at this point the organization can't count on any such thing, though it's certain they'll try. But trying may require a chunk of the change currently allotted to Hunter's salary.
A trade of Hunter would leave a hole in the outfield. We'd have to get someone (or several someones) really good in trade for Hunter to pull the trigger on a deal, of course. But if a team offered us, say, a good second baseman and a relief pitcher and perhaps a prospect or two, we don't want to pass it by because we're just plain short on outfielders.
The outfield without Hunter and Jones would consist of Stewart and two of Ford, Kubel, Tyner and possibly Cuddyer. One of those four might end up as the DH, and you always want a spare outfielder on the bench if you can swing it. (Nick Punto, though he performed valiantly when called upon, doesn't really count as a fourth outfielder). Then there's the possibility that Cuddyer could be playing third or second next year, which would leave us short in the outfield unless we found another DH. Unless...
Well, you see where I'm going with this. With so much positional uncertainty, a slim free-agent market, and a small pool from which to fill three outfield positions, the Twins made a very smart move with this signing.
Hey, remember when we had so many outfielders we released some just so they'd have a chance to play somewhere? I wonder if Restovich is under contract yet...