Minnesota Twins: 4 Free Agents Who Would Immediately Improve the Team
Minnesota Twins' GM Terry Ryan may be happy with the current roster heading into 2013, but that doesn't mean the team is out of the hunt for the remaining free-agent crop.
Even though the offseason is coming to a close, there are still a long list of names still without a job in 2013. In fact, one could just about put together a team of former Twins straight out of free agency: Kyle Lohse, Jason Bartlett, Orlando Hudson, Jim Thome, Carl Pavano, Matt Capps, Livan Hernandez, Jon Rauch and J.C. Romero will most likely end up somewhere in the coming weeks—just probably not in Minnesota. The priority in Minny has been strictly pitching, with a side of spring training invites.
So far the Twins have added Kevin Correia, Mike Pelfrey and Rich Harden via free agency and have been linked to many more. Jon Morosi linked the team to Edwin Jackson and Joe Saunders, while Twins Daily speculated Shaun Marcum could be an option.
Most of the final Twins roster spots will surely be filled from within, but there are a few remaining upgrades possible from free agency. Here's a quick look at the best of the rest, as we petition the front office to continue the rebuild in Minnesota.
Starter Shaun Marcum
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Scott Diamond and Vance Worley currently occupy the top two spots in the rotation, which doesn't exactly spell depth. Shaun Marcum would be the closest thing to an ace this Twins pitching staff has.
He'd bring a veteran presence and a little more reliability to a Minnesota starting five that has been at, or near, the bottom of every major pitching statistic over the past couple of seasons.
With Twins' starters combining for a 5.40 ERA, Marcum's career 3.76 ERA seems like a godsend. And at 31, he's probably got at least a few more good years in his right arm.
Since he may be out of the Twins' current price range, Marcum may not be as probable as a guy like Joe Saunders to land in Minnesota.
But we can still hope.
Third Baseman Brandon Inge
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Terry Ryan has been adamant about signing some competition at third base for incumbent slugger Trevor Plouffe.
Like Brian Dozier, Plouffe's defense has been suspect in the infield. A great defender like Brandon Inge would be a perfect addition to platoon with Plouffe at third base.
He's climbing in age and might not bring much from behind the plate, but Inge's stellar defense and veteran leadership could go a long way for a Twins team that is in need of a new direction.
Jamey Carroll already provides the Twins with a utility infielder, but they could definitely use some infield depth—especially if it comes with experience.
Outfielder Scott Podsednik
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The Twins freed up multiple positions in the outfield this offseason by sending both Denard Span and Ben Revere to the National League East. With average defenders Josh Willingham and Chris Parmelee already penciled in as starters, and the job up for grabs in center field, finding a guy who can play multiple outfield spots makes sense.
Scott Podsednik is that guy. He can play all three outfield positions, and statistically plays center field the best. He even hits for average, with a career line of .281.
Coming off his age 36 season and the shortest year of his career, Podsednik should be a cheap and effective option to bolster the Twins defense—much like Brandon Inge.
With all the new pitchers coming to Minnesota, defense should be a big priority. Podsednik would help to strengthen a defense that was towards the bottom in the AL in fielding percentage and committed the fourth-most errors in the league.
Second Baseman Kelly Johnson
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The current favorite for the Twins' second base job is Brian Dozier. He struggled both at the plate and defensively in 2012, and was eventually sent down to Triple-A Rochester. His sample size was small (84 games), but Dozier hit only .234.
Free agent Kelly Johnson isn't much of an average guy either, but his .255 career mark is an upgrade over Dozier. Johnson's .982 fielding percentage beats Dozier's .964 as well.
Johnson pretty much beats Dozier's numbers across the board.
And he'll probably be cheap too. After rough 2011 and 2012 seasons, Johnson is in need of a new opportunity. The Twins could provide that opportunity.
What's not to like? He's the best option for a Twins team that has employed a sort of revolving door method at second base over the last few years.
His lefty power would profile nicely behind a guy like Josh Willingham, and he could at least be serviceable at second until Eddie Rosario is ready to make a jump to the bigs.