Saturday, February 21, 2009

Better Late than Never: Twins Sign Crede

It’s about time.

After sitting idle for most of the offseason, the Minnesota Twins finally addressed the most glaring hole on the team’s roster by inking former White Sox third baseman Joe Crede to an incentive-laden, one-year contract.

According to Twins official website, the deal is worth $2.5 million and includes incentives that could push the final value of the deal to $7 million. There is no doubt that if Crede, an All-Star in 2008, can stay healthy and reach those incentives he will be worth every penny.

The signing comes as a surprise to many after the Twins ended negotiations with Crede’s agent, Scott Boras, earlier this month. Boras—up to his usual tactics—kept raising his request for a base salary, going from a reasonable $5 million to $7 million, despite an apparent barren market for Crede’s services.

Never a team to get suckered into outbidding themselves—or often bidding at all—the Twins walked away.

As the Twins reported to Fort Myers this week, it seemed that a reprise of last year’s Brendan Harris/Brian Buscher platoon at third base was a lock.

On Friday night, however, talks between Boras and the Twins heated up again and a deal was struck rather quickly. Apparently sitting at home during Spring Training makes some ballplayers a little uncomfortable.

If Crede can stay healthy this season, he will fill a major need for the Twins as a power-hitting third baseman. His right-handed bat will fit nicely in the heart of the order to break-up lefties Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer and Jason Kubel.

Crede—again, if healthy—will prove equally valuable on defense as well. Throughout his career Crede has earned a reputation as an elite defender at the hot corner, something the Twins’ pitching staff will appreciate.

All of Crede’s upside is counterbalanced by his recent injury woes. Crede has had two major back surgeries in the last two seasons. He hit .248 with 17 homers and 55 RBIs last season for the White Sox. But the All-Star played sparingly in the second half because of recurring back trouble, which limited him to 47 games in 2007.

On paper this is a great signing for the Twins, with the caveat that Crede must stay healthy to have any sort of impact. If he is unable to avoid the injury bug the team is only out $2.5 million and can roll with the Harris/Buscher platoon who combined to hit .274 with 11 home runs and 96 RBIs last season.

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