MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins will take a new middle infield into their new ballpark.
Second baseman Orlando Hudson and the Twins agreed Thursday night to a $5 million, one-year contract, adding another All-Star to the roster of the reigning AL Central champions.
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Hudson gives the Twins a veteran at the top of the batting order with a .282 career average and four Gold Glove awards. He played in his second All-Star game last season, his only year with the Los Angeles Dodgers after four with the Toronto Blue Jays and three with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Hudson, who will likely bat second, will form an all-new double-play tandem for the Twins with shortstop J.J. Hardy, who came in an earlier offseason trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. The 32-year-old Hudson batted .283 with 35 doubles, six triples, nine homers and 62 RBIs in 551 at-bats for the Dodgers last year.
As part of the contract, Minnesota agreed not to offer salary arbitration next fall if Hudson becomes a Type A free agent. Hudson became the 100th player with an announced agreement among the 171 in baseball who filed for free agency after the World Series.
The Twins aren’t usually this active in the offseason, but with AL MVP Joe Mauer in his prime and another elite player in first baseman Justin Morneau they’ve been driven this winter to upgrade their offense. With an extra surge of revenue from Target Field, which will officially open in April, the Twins are also spending on salaries like they’ve never spent before.
The payroll will be well over $90 million, by far a franchise record.
They won the division last year for the fifth time in eight years, but they haven’t won a playoff series since 2002 and are eager to build a championship contender around Mauer while they work on a contract extension for the 26-year-old catcher.
Veteran slugger Jim Thome was signed last week as a part-time player, giving the Twins another home run threat to go with Morneau, Mauer and outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel.
Hudson’s acquisition also stabilizes a position that’s been in flux for several seasons, mostly due to a lack of offensive production. Hardy’s arrival has done the same at shortstop.
That leaves Nick Punto and Brendan Harris as the third basemen, with both of them also able to back up the spots in the middle.