Joe Christensen reported yesterday that the Twins have come to terms on a one-year contract with Craig Monroe, an arbitration-eligible outfielder whom they acquired from the Cubs about a month ago. The Twins signed Monroe for the smallest amount they could by rule at $3.82 million - a 20 percent reduction from his salary in 2007. That seems like an awful lot of money for a guy who hit .219/.268/.347 last season.
However, while I'm not overly enthused about the signing, I'm not too upset about it. In essence, what Bill Smith has done with the Twins' outfield so far this offseason is replace Rondell White with Delmon Young and Lew Ford with Craig Monroe, without much fluctuation in cost overall. Those are pretty significant upgrades. Despite his poor numbers last season, Monroe is a solid fourth outfielder who can come off the bench and provide some pop. He also hits well against lefties (.814 career OPS), which should be useful given that the Twins' 2008 lineup will likely contain at least four left-handed bats in Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Jason Kubel and the center fielder (who I'm currently presuming will be either Jason Pridie or Jacoby Ellsbury).
It seems likely that Monroe will be overpaid in 2008, but that's really a luxury that Twins can afford, with have a massive chunk of payroll coming off the books even if Johan Santana isn't dealt. The Twins have continually claimed that they intend to increase payroll in 2008 -- it seems like they'll have a hard time doing so without handing out a few pricey short-term deals.