I'm Not Alone
There's a lot of talk in the article about the Twins impending arbitration problem, which will see Joe Mauer, Michael Cuddyer, and Justin Morneau all start to get some pretty nice raises starting this year. Part of the reason that I'm not comfortable signing Hunter to a long term deal (even for the $8 million per that it sounds like he is now more willing to accept) is that I think that money is going to be needed down the road to keep this core of players together. But the $12 million Hunter would make next year (actually $10 million - remember, the $2 million buyout is a sunk cost that will be spent regardless) isn't needed immediately to pay those guys; money coming off the books from Brad Radke's retirement and Shannon Stewart's moving on will suffice. Picking up the option on Hunter is actually the more economical and rational approach for a team that seems to have a chance to make a run at the World Series next year.
Williams also says that we'll know answers to the option questions by the end of the week. That timing makes sense, and I'll throw this out there too; I think the Twins will pick the option up quickly, and then start negotiating with Hunter on a long term deal. If Terry Ryan feels comfortable with the numbers, Hunter could be locked up through 2010. I don't think it should happen, but I think there's a very good chance it might.
I'll talk more about what the Twins approach with Mauer, Cuddyer, and Morneau this off-season should be when I discuss the arbitration eligible Twins players, which will be sometime this week.