The Minnesota Twins are already making some major changes after a second straight bad season, choosing not to renew the contracts of three coaches, reassigning a couple others and even letting the head athletic trainer go.
One of the bright spots of the 2012 season for the Twins was catcher Ryan Doumit, who was signed to a one-year, $3 million deal last offseason after spending his entire career to that point with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The fact he could play catcher certainly was appealing to the Twins with the injury-riddled 2011 season Joe Mauer had, with Doumit offering the added bonus of offensive capability as well.
Doumit certainly gave the Twins their money’s worth this season, setting career-highs in plate appearances (528), games played (134), home runs (18) and RBI (75) while seeing time behind the plate, as a designated hitter and in the outfield (22 games). He is clearly not suited to being an outfielder, but Doumit’s position flexibility allowed manager Ron Gardenhire to put his best offensive lineup on the field the majority of the time.
The Twins clearly see Doumit as a key piece of the immediate future, as they signed him to a two-year, $7 million contract extension in late June so he would not hit free agency. I felt at the time of his initial signing last winter he was the best free agent addition made by general manager Terry Ryan, and the fact Mauer had a rebound season and played in a career-high 147 games while not having to catch all the time seems to have proven that out.
Doumit’s contract extension is not exorbitant relative to his value, so if the Twins are out of contention again in 2013 he could become a tradeable asset as July’s trade deadline approaches. Trading him at some point down the road was certainly not a motivating factor for the team when offering the extension, but it is worth mentioning since the Twins largely lack players that other teams covet.