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Hayden Goethe, Published October 16 2009

Goethe: Twins GM Bill Smith faces a busy offseason

The season is over for the Minnesota Twins, but things are just starting to heat up for general manager Bill Smith.

Here’s what I think the Twins need to do:

Re-sign Mauer should be top priority. But if an agreement can’t be reached this offseason, he’s got to be dealt. It’s important to remember that this would be very different from the Johan Santana trade. Santana, holding a no-trade clause, had a lot of leverage. The Twins would get more this time around. But let me stress this: Re-signing him is the No. 1 priority. And I think the Twins will get an extension for Mauer before Target Field opens.

Consider trading Joe Nathan, but only if it helps pay for Mauer. Nathan is owed $22.5 million over the next two years. I agree with the Minneapolis Star Tribune’s Patrick Reusse, who suggested trading Nathan earlier this week. Nathan will be 35 next month, but he’s still one of the best in the game. However, it’s tough for a small-market team (any team that’s not the Yankees or Red Sox) to have so much money tied up in four players (Nathan, Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer).

Pick up Cuddyer’s $10.5 million option for 2011. A decision on the option for the team’s longest-tenured player must be made within five days of the final out of the World Series. He single-handedly carried the Twins offense in September after Morneau’s season-ending injury.

Trade Delmon Young while you still can. Young was outstanding down the stretch, hitting .339 after Sept. 1. But he will always be his own worst enemy. Until he becomes more disciplined at the plate – he walked only 12 times this season and carried a paltry .308 on-base percentage – he’ll never be a dependable option.

Keep Carl Pavano. Mauer reportedly told Pavano while giving him a ride to his hotel after Sunday’s playoff loss that he meant a lot to the team. The Twins do seem to perform better with a veteran in the rotation, and the cost to keep him won’t be exceptionally high.

Readers can reach Forum Assistant Sports Editor Hayden Goethe at (701) 241-5558 or hgoethe@forumcomm.com