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Updated: December 6th, 2011 6:23pm
Twins not worried about Cuddyer's age: 'He takes care of himself'

Twins not worried about Cuddyer's age: 'He takes care of himself'

by Phil Mackey
1500ESPN.com
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DALLAS -- As the Minnesota Twins wait for an answer on their proposed offer to Michael Cuddyer -- reportedly three years, $25 million -- it's fair to wonder whether general manager Terry Ryan and company should be a little nervous about locking up a thick-framed, soon-to-be 33-year-old corner outfielder to such a commitment.

Cuddyer had a fine season offensively in 2011, batting .284/.346/.459 with 20 home runs in 584 plate appearances, and he shows no signs of an immediate drop-off. But with nearly $40 million tied up between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau through at least 2013, the Twins can't really afford to add a bad contract.

That's not to say three years, $25 million for Cuddyer would be a bad contract. If he plays like he did in 2011 for the duration of the deal, $8 million per year is more than justifiable.

The Twins aren't concerned.

"He takes care of himself," Ryan said. "He wants to play the game the right way, which he always has. If he wasn't an original Twin, that would be a bigger concern of ours than it is with him. We know what he's done, we know what he's like, we know how he takes care of himself. We know what kind of lifestyle he's always led. We know what kind of mental preparation, physical preparation he goes through.

"If he was an outsider I wouldn't have all that information. (Age) would be a concern for me. ... It's not as much of a concern with a guy that you know, like we do. I do have faith obviously in his work ethic and his off-field habits."

Of course, plenty of players have trained hard in their mid-30's, but it doesn't guarantee continued production.

Ryan did made it clear that his goal is to build a team for 2012 that can compete for a playoff spot, and Cuddyer is a key piece to that puzzle.

"All I have to do to tell you what our thoughts and objectives are about putting together a ball club (is say) we're chasing Michael Cuddyer," Ryan said.

"If we don't get Michael we have to make alternative plans. I don't think there's any hidden agenda here. We'd like to have Michael. But if we don't get him and he goes elsewhere, we certainly are going to move on and do something else."

Capps almost official

Matt Capps' deal will be finalized as soon as Ryan speaks with the doctor who performed the right-hander's physical.

Ryan assured that it was simply a routine physical, and that the Twins don't expect anything other than a clean bill of health.

Capps' right forearm gave him troubles in 2011, but as Ryan put it, "You never heard him complain. ...

"I know I've read that, but he never complained, he never backed off. I don't know how serious or severe that thing was, frankly. But it's obviously not a big issue with us."

Still looking for pitching

Even if they finalize a deal with Cuddyer, thus moving the payroll up near $100 million, the Twins still plan to continue their search for starting pitching help.

"We're still looking," Ryan said. "We just traded one."

The asking price for starting pitching -- via trade and free agency -- is pretty high at this week's meetings, sources have said.

Ryan also made it clear that Capps likely won't be the final piece to the bullpen puzzle, saying the Twins are "still looking for some people to add to that."

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
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