The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Ed Thoma

September 16, 2012

Thoma: Twins have a surplus of left-handed hitters from which to deal

Joe Mauer. Justin Morneau. Josh Willingham. Ryan Doumit. Denard Span. Ben Revere. Chris Parmelee.

Seven hitters for six lineup slots  — three in the outfield, plus catcher, first base and designated hitter. If everybody’s healthy — which, to be sure, hasn’t been the case the past week or so — there isn’t room for all of them.

Plus the Twins have Darin Mastroianni as a fourth outfielder and prospects Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann preparing to push their way into those same positions.

Managing this surplus — and coping with other problems on the roster — probably means trading one or more of the names atop this column.

The question is: Who?

Making a trade, of course, is more than deciding who to give up. There’s also the issue of who you can get, and that’s no small consideration.

But there are three names there we can be sure aren’t going anywhere this winter: Mauer, Willingham and Doumit.

Mauer stays put because he’s Joe Mauer. He’s a 29-year-old with his Hall of Fame ticket punched, a monster contract and a full no-trade clause. The Twins shouldn’t want to trade him, and couldn’t if they wanted to.

Willingham stays put because he’s the one legitimate right-handed hitter in the bunch. (Doumit switch-hits, but he has always been far better left-handed than right.) Doumit stays because of his position flexibility — he makes it easy to player Mauer at DH or first base a couple times a week or more.

(By this time next year, Herrmann may be poised to take that role, and Doumit could be trade bait then — but our concern today is the coming winter’s moves, not what might transpire after 2013.)

The other four are more readily tradable, and pack differing types of appeal. We have two leadoff-type center fielders in Span and Revere; we have two middle-of-the-order first basemen in Morneau and Parmelee.

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Ed Thoma