MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins, still unsure if they'll even exist next season, mailed out contracts Thursday to all 28 unsigned players on their 40-man roster.
Under the rules of baseball's expired labor contract, which remains in force, any player not offered a contract by Dec. 20 becomes a free agent.
General manager Terry Ryan said the Twins, which along with the Montreal Expos are the most likely candidates for elimination, are assuming they will play at least one more season.
Ten days after owners voted in favor of contraction on Nov. 6, a Minnesota district judge issued an injunction that forces the team to play next season and honor its lease at the Metrodome. The appeal by the Twins and commissioner Bud Selig is scheduled to be heard Dec. 27.
"We're still trying to function as normal as we can under these circumstances," Ryan said. "It's a little awkward. This is a tough business even on its best day."
The threat of contraction caused the Twins to stop the search for a new manager to replace Tom Kelly, who retired in October.
Bench coach Paul Molitor and third-base coach Ron Gardenhire were the top candidates but Molitor, frustrated by uncertainty, withdrew from consideration, leaving Gardenhire as the top contender.
Ryan said the search for a new manager remains on hold until Selig and owners decide the fate of the team.
Gardenhire said he's more concerned about the other people in the Twins' office.
"For a while everybody starts hearing good things and then (talks) break down," Gardenhire said. "I can handle it, I can get through it. This is all just part of my life."
Twins left-hander Eddie Guardado said he's just trying to keep things business as usual, remodeling his home in Stockton, Calif.
"You worry about the things that you can control, that's what I try to do," Guardado said. "You hear a lot of things, people asking you, 'So are you going to have a team?' All I can tell them is we're going to be OK."
"You get kind of sick of it," he said.
Both Gardenhire and Ryan said people in the organization are trying to keep as positive an attitude as they can.
"We're ready," Ryan said. "Our people will be ready to go if they get the opportunity."
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