Although Lohse, who filed a figure of $3.95 million early last week, suggested at the time he could be headed to an arbitration hearing with the club for the second straight year, general manager Terry Ryan said he's holding out hope he can avoid a hearing with his No. 4 starter.
"I'd like to think (there's reason for optimism)," Ryan said. "I don't know exactly what the thoughts are with Kyle. But I hope we can solve this through negotiations."
The club filed at $3.4 million.
Lohse has never signed easily since reaching the major leagues. In addition to taking the team to a hearing last year in his first year of arbitration eligibility -- unwilling to split a difference of $250,000 -- Lohse refused to agree to terms the previous two seasons, forcing the club to renew his contract.
The Lohse issue is the last major order of business for the Twins before pitchers and catchers report Feb. 19. No other contract issues loom, and they've filled all the holes they felt they had in the lineup.
Cuddyer's deal split the difference between his filing and the team's. Punto agreed to a deal closer to the team's filing ($625,000) than his ($850,000).
"You never want to go that hearing if you don't have to," said Punto, who hit .239 with 13 stolen bases in a career-high 112 games last season. "That's an ugly part about baseball."
The payroll is expected to be near $63 million, up from about $56 million last year.
"I've been reading the paper like everybody else, and the writing's obviously on the wall in regards to me being in the outfield," Cuddyer said. "I'm going to spring training trying to win right field. Apparently."
Cuddyer remains a potential backup at as many as five positions in the infield and outfield.
BY THE NUMBERS: 8,000 -- Projected season-ticket sales for 2006, about the same as last year, when the Twins reached 2 million in attendance for the first time since 1993.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's hit or miss ... but he can hit." -- CF Torii Hunter on strikeout-prone 3B Tony Batista, who signed with the Twins as a free agent.
The Twins filled the last of their offseason priorities by signing free agent DH/OF Rondell White ($2.5 million), on the heels of their signing of free agent 3B Tony Batista ($1.25 million). After ranking at or near the bottom of the AL in every major offensive category in 2005 and opening the season with a 2-3-5 heart of the lineup (SS Jason Bartlett, C Joe Mauer and 1B Justin Morneau) with just 157 total games in the big leagues, the Twins' first five in the 2006 Opening Day lineup figure to be: LF Shannon Stewart, 2B Luis Castillo, C Joe Mauer, DH Rondell White and CF Torii Hunter, with Morneau and Batista filling 6-7 in some order. GM Terry Ryan said he anticipates both an upgraded offense and defense (based largely on Castillo) with the additions.
DH Rondell White (free agent from Detroit), 3B Tony Batista (free agent from Japan), LHP Dennys Reyes (minor league free agent from San Diego), 2B Luis Castillo (trade with Florida), OF Jason Pridie (selected from Tampa Bay in Rule 5 draft), LHP Gabe White (minor league free agent from St. Louis), LHP Darrell May (minor league free agent from New York Yankees), DH/OF Ruben Sierra (minor league free agent from New York Yankees).
RF Jacque Jones (free agent, signed with Cubs), LHP J.C. Romero (traded to Angels), INF/OF Brent Abernathy (free agent, signed with Milwaukee), OF Mike Ryan (minor league free agent, signed with Atlanta), C Corky Miller (minor league free agent), RHP Joe Mays (free agent, signed with Kansas City), DH/C Matt LeCroy (released), LHP Terry Mulholland (free agent, signed with Arizona), 2B Luis Rivas (released, signed with Tampa Bay), INF Augie Ojeda (free agent, signed with Cubs).
With the offseason hitting and defensive needs addressed as well as the Twins plan to address them, the front office turned its attention to bullpen depth, particularly left-handers. LHPs Dennys Reyes, Gabe White and Darrell May received spring invites.
RHP Kyle Lohse could be headed to another arbitration hearing.
With LHP J.C. Romero traded to the Angels, arbitration-eligible RHP Kyle Lohse tendered a contract and OF Jacque Jones departed once and for all as a free agent, the Twins have settled the roster issues that appeared most uncertain at 2005 season's end.
OF Jason Kubel, who was expected to battle for a starting job in 2005 before suffering a massive knee injury during 2004 Arizona Fall League play, produced well at the plate in Arizona this fall but was still not allowed to play in the field or run the bases hard. It is doubtful he'll be 100 percent healthy and ready to compete for RF Jacque Jones' vacated spot when spring training opens. ... RHP Carlos Silva, who was limited to 27 starts this season because of torn meniscus in his right knee, underwent successful surgery and is expected to be at full strength for spring training. ... C Mike Redmond had a bone spur in his foot surgically repaired and is expected to make a full recovery by spring training.