Twins looking to remain active at Winter Meetings
Catcher, bench help, more starting pitching on list of general manager Ryan
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have already addressed their rotation with the two largest free-agent signings in franchise history, and they will continue to try to upgrade their roster at the Winter Meetings.
The Twins signed right-hander Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $48 million deal with an option for a fifth year, while also signing right-hander Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal.
The club introduced both pitchers at news conferences at Target Field in the week leading up to the Winter Meetings, but the Twins aren't content with just those two additions after losing 96 games for a second straight season.
General manager Terry Ryan is still on the lookout for another starting pitcher, and he could look to sign a catcher, with Joe Mauer moving from behind the plate after his concussion.
Below is a look at Minnesota's checklist for the Winter Meetings, which will be held from Monday-Thursday at Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Starting pitching: The Twins already added Nolasco and Hughes, but they could add one more starting pitcher, as the rotation was a mess in 2013 and finished with the worst ERA in the Majors. Right-hander Mike Pelfrey, the club's lone free agent, has expressed interest in a return, but it remains to be seen if the Twins want to give him anything more than a one-year deal after he posted a 5.19 ERA last season. The club has also been linked to former Twins ace Johan Santana, but it appears interest has cooled on bringing the two-time American League Cy Young Award winner back to Minnesota.
Catcher: With Mauer moving to first base after suffering a season-ending concussion, the Twins could look to add a veteran backstop if they believe rookie Josmil Pinto isn't ready to take over full-time catching duties. But the Twins already lost out on signing A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, so they could decide to focus on other areas.
Bench help: The Twins don't figure to break the bank on a position player, especially with their hole at first base gone with Mauer there to replace Justin Morneau. So the club could look to improve its bench instead, adding a veteran corner infielder or utility infielder to the roster.
Who they can trade if necessary
Catcher/outfielder Ryan Doumit: The Twins already have Chris Herrmann on the roster, and both are similar players because of their ability to catch and play the outfield. Doumit is set to earn $3.5 million in the last year of a three-year deal, and could be moved. But his value was diminished by his offensive struggles last year, and he also suffered a concussion behind the plate and didn't catch the last month of the season.
Outfielder Josh Willingham: Like Doumit, Willingham is in the last year of his contract and is set to earn $7 million. And also like Doumit, Willingham had a down year offensively in '13, hurting his trade value. The Twins still remain unlikely to deal Willingham, but they could if the price is right.
The Twins' top 10 prospects, per MLB.com, are outfielder Byron Buxton, third baseman Miguel Sano, right-hander Alex Meyer, right-hander Kohl Stewart, second baseman Eddie Rosario, right-hander Jose Berrios, right-hander Trevor May, outfielder Max Kepler, second baseman Jorge Polanco and right-hander Ryan Eades.
Given that the Twins are looking to build toward the future, it remains highly unlikely they will trade any of their top prospects. That's why they turned to free agency this offseason to acquire starting pitching instead of trading away any of their top prospects.
Rule 5 Draft
The Twins have always put a lot of value in the Rule 5 Draft and have fared well in the past, including last year, when they selected right-hander Ryan Pressly from the Red Sox. Pressly remained on the club's roster all year, and had a solid rookie season with a 3.87 ERA in 76 2/3 innings.
The Twins have roughly $75 million to $80 million in payroll commitments for next season, so they still have some money to work with. Minnesota had an $82 million payroll last season, but their payroll averaged more than $100 million from 2010-12.