MINNEAPOLIS -- When the new front office led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine was officially introduced in early November, both men talked about the importance of bringing back former players to the organization.
The Twins did just that on Monday, hiring former Minnesota stars Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer as special assistants to baseball operations. All three players, who retired after the 2015 season, will be resources for the front office, coaching staff and players. They'll also report to Spring Training as instructors, which is a role that Hunter and Hawkins filled last year. They'll also visit Minor League affiliates throughout the year.
Falvey said it's a step toward creating a mix of analytics and the human element in the front office, as all three recently retired from long and productive careers and were a major part of Minnesota's resurgence in the 2000s.
"It's an exciting moment for us in the organization," Falvey said. "Both Thad and I have had a chance to talk to these guys and get to know them. What they mean to this franchise not only as players, but as people, stood out across the board. … This was as close to a no-brainer as it gets."
Hunter, 41, played 19 seasons in the Majors, including 12 with the Twins. The five-time All-Star and nine-time Gold Glove Award winner spent his last season with Minnesota in 2015, and he is familiar with the roster and manager Paul Molitor. Hunter, known as a clubhouse leader throughout his career, will have a focus on helping with the organizational and clubhouse culture. He'll also assist with the amateur Draft process, scouting, Minor Leagues and Trade Deadline preparation.
"Everything I learned in the game in baseball pretty much came from the Minnesota Twins," said Hunter, who met with Levine over lunch last week before taking the position. "I want to give back to the young guys some of the wisdom I learned along the way. So it's an honor to come back to the organization where I was raised. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are standup guys."
Hawkins, 44, was a big leaguer for 21 seasons, including nine with Minnesota. Hawkins, who pitched in more than 1,000 career games, will be a resource for the pitching staff. He'll assist in contributing to the club's organizational pitching philosophies and will also help with amateur scouting and with the Trade Deadline. He said he's willing to do whatever is asked of him, as he's always been intrigued by working in a front office, even dating back to his playing days.
"Being able to come back to the organization where it started, I don't take this opportunity lightly," Hawkins said. "I've been a lot of places but my heart has always been in Minnesota. I want to give back to the young kids."
Cuddyer, 37, played 15 seasons in the Majors, including 11 with the Twins. The two-time All-Star will focus more on transition programs to help teach players about the mental side of being a Major Leaguer. Like Hunter and Hawkins, he'll also assist with the Draft and Trade Deadline.
"The Twins have always been in my heart," Cuddyer said. "I was fortunate to come up with guys like Torii and LaTroy leading the way, teaching me about not only baseball, but life in general. I feel like to give my appreciation to guys like Torii and LaTroy is to do this thing for the organization and for younger players."