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AL Central Eye: Twins Sign Crede, Pursue Cruz

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After a relatively quiet offseason, with only an R.A. Dickey signing to show for their efforts (along with bringing back Nick Punto), the Minnesota Twins are now making some moves

With Spring Training under way, Joe Crede decided it was time for him to sign with a team, and consummated his long courtship with the Twins by reaching agreement on a one-year, $2.5 milion contract.

Before you say, "Wow, that's it?" consider that the deal also includes $4.5 million of incentive bonuses. So Crede could still end up with the $7 million he was seeking on the open market. However, the Twins appeared to have protected themselves well against a player who's missed a lot of time the past two seasons with back injuries.

For his career against Detroit, Crede has batted .279/.344/.555 with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs. Those 22 homers are the most he's hit against any opponent, and only the Royals have seen him drive in more runs (70). Nothing like seeing a Tigers Killer stay in the AL Central.

The other possible move is more interesting, if for no other reason that it involves a player I believed the Tigers should've been coveting this winter: flame-throwing reliever Juan Cruz.

(And perhaps Detroit looked at Cruz, but either found the cost of a compensatory draft pick to be too steep or didn't see him as closer material. Or both.)

There have been rumblings over the past week that Major League Baseball was looking to help out those players whose Type A free agent status has prevented them from finding employment this winter. And one of the first scenarios that was rumored was the Twins working out a sign-and-trade arrangement with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

But this doesn't usually happen in MLB, so how would this work? Tell us, Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic:

Cruz would have to come close to agreeing to a deal with another team, at which point those same contract terms would be brought to the Diamondbacks.

Newly signed free agents cannot be traded until June 15, but there are indications that the players union would allow Cruz to waive that right and then give the Diamondbacks a window of time to work out a trade.

Or:

The Diamondbacks could engage a team that is hesitant to give up a pick and offer a mid-level prospect or a role player - perhaps in exchange for "future considerations" - as incentive to sign Cruz. That would offset the loss of the pick for the signing team while allowing the Diamondbacks to collect two picks.

Or Arizona could try and work out something with the Yankees - who would only have to give up a fourth-round pick, since they've already signed Mark Teixeira, CC Sabathia, and A.J. Burnett.

So if the Yankees were to sign Cruz, they would forfeit only their fourth-round pick to the Diamondbacks. The Yankees could then trade Cruz, the theory being that it wouldn't be so difficult to get in return talent that is commensurate, or better, than the value of a fourth-rounder.

Or the D-Backs could just make it simpler on everyone, and re-sign Cruz.

Of course, if you're of the opinion that the Tigers might make a trade this spring, maybe this is some action they should get in on. I don't see Detroit making a deal, but would certainly still like to see them go after Cruz. Even if there might be only one open spot in their bullpen. Why? 1) The Tigers could use him, and 2) Do you want to see Cruz pair up with Joe Nathan?

However, that ship has probably already sailed.

(Thanks to Mike McClary for the timely text message)