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Updated: December 5th, 2011 7:14pm
Notebook: Twins are 'looking for pitching'; Is Buehrle in the plans?

Notebook: Twins are 'looking for pitching'; Is Buehrle in the plans?

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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DALLAS -- In his first meeting with reporters at the Hilton Anatole this week, Minnesota Twins general manager Terry Ryan was pretty forthright about what the front office hopes to accomplish at the winter meetings, and beyond.

"We're looking for pitching," Ryan said. "We're looking for pitching."

Interestingly, that response came just a fraction of a second after a reporter asked Ryan whether the team was trying to sign free-agent left-hander Mark Buehrle.

On Monday it was reported by multiple outlets that the Twins were among a handful of teams with serious interest in Buehrle, who is likely to earn somewhere near $12 million per year -- if not more -- on a three- or four-year deal.

Jeff Berry, Buehrle's agent, said he'd rather not discuss which particular teams are trailing his client, and Ryan is holding his cards close to the vest as well.

"There's a lot of pitchers we're interested in that haven't been reported," Ryan said. "We're looking for pitchers. Doesn't make much difference if they (throw) right or left."

The Twins do have some money to spend, even if they do still view Michael Cuddyer as a top priority, but the team almost certainly doesn't have enough money to sign both Cuddyer and Buehrle.

The Twins are set to talk with Cuddyer's camp sometime this week, and Ryan acknowledged it "would be nice" to have more clarity on Cuddyer's decision one way or the other by the end of the week, "but sometimes it doesn't work that way."

When asked if making other moves -- such as with Buehrle, perhaps -- is contingent on waiting for Cuddyer to pick a destination, Ryan said, "That would be incorrect," adding, "We have to take our options just like he does. There are no guarantees in free agency...

"We're going to always be prepared. ... There's no deadline on this thing."

Aside from owning baseball's second-worst team ERA last season (4.60), the Twins also had only one starter throw more than 161 innings. Not only do the Twins need quality pitching, but they also need quantity.

"We're looking for more quality innings," Ryan said, "(but) I don't think anybody would be satisfied with just scrapping a guy out there so he can provide innings. We're looking for somebody who can provide quality, get deep into games, give the bullpen a rest. That's easier said than done. ...

"But we're looking for pitching, just like about 20 other clubs are here."

Twins still in on Wada, Iwakuma

The Twins have had discussions with the agents for Japanese pitchers Tsuyoshi Wada, Hisashi Iwakuma.

The Twins finished second in last year's blind bidding process for Iwakuma, who wound up pitching in Japan for another season after he was unable to reach a deal with the Oakland A's. Iwakuma, 31, dealt with some shoulder soreness that sidelined him for three months this past season. But he still reportedly has several suitors other than the Twins.

"We know a lot about him," Ryan said about the righty Iwakuma. "There are a lot of players out there who have some health concerns. You have to do your background work and due diligence on exactly what the medical is as the makeup, the fit, the dollars, the years. It's a little bit more complicated here because he pitched in Japan but we know about that stuff."

Wada, 30, posted a 1.51 ERA with 168 strikeouts, 40 walks and only seven home runs allowed in 184 2/3 innings for the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks of the Japanese Pacific League last season. The Pirates and Nationals are among teams to have reported interest in the left-hander.

Iwakuma posted a 2.42 ERA with 90 strikeouts, 19 walks and six home runs allowed in 119 innings.

Iwakuma's agent, Matt Sosnick, also represents Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham.

Nothing brewing with Willingham

Speaking of Willingham, he could be a logical fit to help fill the void in right field should Cuddyer sign elsewhere, but when asked if anything serious was brewing between the Twins and Willingham on Monday, one source simply said, "No."

That could change depending on what happens with Cuddyer, however Willingham already reportedly has a handful of serious suitors.

Willingham, 32, hit .246/.332/.477 with 29 home runs and 26 doubles in 563 plate appearances for the A's last season,

Oliva, Kaat come up short for Hall

Major League Baseball's Golden Era committee announced on Monday that former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo was elected into the Hall of Fame, nearly one year to the day after he passed away on Dec. 3, 2010 from bladder cancer and pneumonia complications.

Players need at least 12 out of 16 votes to land in the Hall, meaning former Twins Tony Oliva (8) and Jim Kaat (10) came up just short.

Santo received 15 out of the 16 votes.

More on Florimon

Regarding Pedro Florimon, the soon-to-be 25-year-old shortstop the Twins claimed from the Baltimore Orioles on Monday, Ryan said he has "plenty" of range and arm.

"He's very athletic. He's a switch hitter. He's got skills, there's no doubt about that. So here's an opportunity to get a guy on a waiver claim, and we like things that we have seen from him in the past. ... He's got versatility. He's got makeup, and that's why we claimed him."

Other nuggets

• ESPN.com's Jayson Stark reported the Twins have inquired about Rangers outfielder David Murphy, presumably as a contingency plan for Cuddyer.

• FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported the Twins were interested in right-hander Aaron Harang, but Harang wants to pitch somewhere on the west coast.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd
In this story: Michael Cuddyer
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