December 3, 2010
Prior to yesterday's deadline the Twins tendered 2011 contracts to all nine of their arbitration-eligible players: Francisco Liriano, Delmon Young, Matt Capps, J.J. Hardy, Alexi Casilla, Pat Neshek, Kevin Slowey, Glen Perkins, and Jason Repko. Arbitration has already been avoided by Neshek and Repko, who ensured they wouldn't be non-tendered by signing one-year deals for $625,000 and $600,000 respectively.
The other seven players tendered contracts are now under the Twins' control for 2011 and will either have their salaries determined through an arbitration hearing or agree to deals at some point beforehand. They're eligible to be traded in the meantime and there's lots of speculation that the Twins tendered Hardy a contract despite his no longer being in their plans since doing so retains his rights and they can trade him rather than simply cutting him loose for nothing.
I'm still holding out some increasingly slim hopes that the Twins will keep Hardy as the starting shortstop and pair him with Tsuyoshi Nishioka at second base while using Casilla as the utility infielder, but at the very least there's apparently a strong enough trade market for Hardy that they'll get something in return for letting him go. Arbitration salary figures are exchanged next month and the hearings aren't until February, so Hardy's status may be in limbo for a while.
Repko signing a pre-deadline deal for $600,000 means he'll return as a backup outfielder after filling that role following his June call-up from Triple-A. Ideally even a reserve outfielder would have a little more offensive upside than a 30-year-old with a .227/.304/.365 career line in the majors and modest totals at Triple-A, but Repko is a great defender and hitting right-handed makes him a decent fit as a complement to lefty batters Denard Span and Jason Kubel.
A rough return from Tommy John surgery and public spat with the team over the handling of an in-season hand injury seemingly made Neshek a non-tender option, but instead he re-signed for his 2010 salary. Neshek's velocity and command were off from his pre-surgery norms in 11 games for the Twins and just 25 strikeouts compared to 40 hits in 37 innings at Triple-A wasn't encouraging, but the bullpen has plenty of holes and hopefully his arm strength will return.