Ryan also wouldn't rule out the possibility of bringing back both Cuddyer and fellow free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel if the price is right. It had been assumed that it would be one or the other -- and it's still unlikely both will return to the Twins -- but Ryan indicated there's at least a chance of that happening.
"You could," Ryan said, of allowing for the possibility of bringing back both Cuddyer and Kubel. "We need pitching, too. We need offense, I know that."
Ryan added that Trevor Plouffe is expected to move to the outfield next season, and he could be a candidate to play right field if Cuddyer and Kubel don't return. But Ryan said it's too early to determine what the outfield will look like next season outside of Denard Span and Ben Revere.
"We'll have to see," Ryan said. "I hate to deal with those ifs. If Cuddyer doesn't come back, if Kubel doesn't come back, if Joe doesn't come back, if [Justin] Morneau doesn't come back. Heck, if all those things come about, we're in trouble anyways."
The Twins also remain interested in free-agent reliever Matt Capps, who would serve as closer with Joe Nathan's departure to Texas. Ryan said that Capps pitched hurt last year, and that's why he struggled with a 4.25 ERA in 65 2/3 innings.
"He was a little sore, but he always took the ball," Ryan said. "He never made excuses. If you listened to that [meeting with season-ticket holders on Thursday], people are concerned about us bringing back Matt Capps, and I said, 'Well, people have an off year.' He had an off year, as did the club."
Ryan could also receive some help from Mauer, who said he's talked to Cuddyer this offseason and is willing to play the role of recruiter for free agents about coming to Minnesota.
"I told Terry and everybody here that I'm here to do everything I can to help out," Mauer said. "I want to be part of the solution that gets us back to where we need to get to."
Ryan went on to talk about returning as general manager, noting that he's seen a difference his second time around as GM after serving in that role from 1994-07.
"Things have changed," Ryan said. "There are some different rules and certainly the new labor agreement is different. There are a lot of different faces in the chairs. This clubhouse has changed dramatically. I haven't been in this clubhouse five times in my life."
Ryan said he's read over the new Collective Bargaining Agreement a couple times and that the biggest differences are the changes to the Draft and international signings.
But he added that he's fully in favor of the new playoff system that adds two extra Wild Cards, allowing 10 teams to make the postseason.
Ryan also said that there will be no changes to the dimensions at Target Field, as he feels the jury is still out on whether or not it's a pitchers' park because of the club's struggles offensively last season.
"I just don't see it after two years here, and the opposition, it seemed to be somewhat fair," Ryan said. "It wasn't fair to us last year because we didn't have half of our team on the field on a regular basis."