For Twins, Butera's draw the depth he provides
Non-tender candidate would give club the preferred three catchers on roster
MINNEAPOLIS -- With potential non-tender candidate Alexi Casilla being picked up by the Orioles via waivers earlier this month, the Twins only have three players eligible for arbitration this offseason.
Catcher Drew Butera and relievers Jared Burton and Brian Duensing are all eligible for salary arbitration. It's Butera and Duensing's first year of arbitration, while it's Burton's third and final year of arbitration.
Major League Baseball's deadline is Friday for teams to offer contracts for the 2013 season for any arbitration-eligible players. Any players who are not tendered a contract before the 10:59 p.m. CT deadline become free agents.
Of the three, Butera is the lone non-tender candidate for the Twins, as Burton and Duensing figure to be valuable members of the bullpen next season.
It'll be a tough decision for the Twins, as Butera is currently third on the club's depth chart at catcher, behind Joe Mauer and Ryan Doumit.
Butera has also seen plenty of action in the Majors the last three seasons, as he's combined to play in 184 games, including a career-high 93 in 2011.
The Twins like Butera's defense behind the plate, but he's struggled at the plate in the Majors. The backstop is just a career .183 hitter with five homers and 21 doubles in 487 at-bats.
So the Twins will have to weigh Butera's offensive and defensive skills and see if it's worth bringing him back next season. He made $480,000 last season and would be getting a slight raise via arbitration.
Last year, Butera didn't crack the Opening Day roster, but was called up a month into the season and remained on the big league roster the rest of the way. He hit .198/.270/.279 with a homer and six doubles in 111 at-bats.
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has expressed his affinity for carrying three catchers on the roster, which gives Butera a chance to avoid being non-tendered.
The Twins have a few catching prospects on the way, including Chris Herrmann, who had a solid season offensively at Double-A New Britain and was a September callup.
Last year, the Twins had four players eligible for arbitration -- Casilla and left-handers Glen Perkins, Francisco Liriano and Jose Mijares. Of that group, only Mijares was non-tendered and he ended up signing with the Royals as a free agent before ultimately being picked up off waivers in August by the eventual World Series champion Giants.