Most of the rumors surrounding the Minnesota Twins at this week’s Winter Meetings are focused on their search for starting pitching, but reports have suggested they are looking to bring in some competition for third baseman Trevor Plouffe as well. Since Plouffe is a right-handed hitter with defensive shortcomings, a left-handed hitter that can platoon with him and is an upgrade defensively would likely be a good fit.
Jack Hannahan was not tendered a contract by the Cleveland Indians last week after hitting .244 with four home runs and 29 RBI over 318 plate appearances last season. He also spent the 2011 season with the Indians, hitting .250 with eight home runs and 40 RBI in 366 plate appearances. Overall for his career, in parts of six seasons with the Detroit Tigers, Oakland Athletics, Seattle Mariners and the Indians, Hannahan has a .234 batting average with 28 home runs, 159 RBI and 85 doubles in 505 games.
Hannahan’s strength is clearly not with a bat in his hands at this point, but he is considered an above-average defensive third baseman and advanced metrics suggest he has been at close to an elite level defensively over the last two seasons. Given the deficiencies the Twins have across their infield Hannahan could be useful at other positions, but the vast majority of his big league action (451 games) has come at third base.
Hannahan is a Minnesota native, attending Cretin Durham Hall High School in St. Paul and then attending the University of Minnesota, where he earned Big Ten Player of the Year honors as a junior in 2001.
The nice thing is, Hannahan would not be an expensive addition for the Twins or any team, as he made $1.1 million last season and would have been arbitration-eligible for the first time this winter. A report Tuesday said the Twins have met with his representatives, with further news suggesting Hannahan has a deal in place with an American League Central team. That team could be the Indians, who have expressed interest in bringing him back, but if there are two offers in a similar financial range on the table Hannahan may prefer to sign with his hometown team.
Hannahan would not be the exciting free agent signing Twins fans and followers are looking for, but signing him would not prevent them from signing multiple starting pitchers. The effect of bringing him back home in terms of increased fan interest may be overplayed by some people, but the on-field impact of pushing Plouffe to become more consistent makes bringing Hannahan aboard a solid move in my estimation.