The Minnesota Twins have a lot on their plate this winter. As they ponder a dive into MLB Free Agency, general manager Terry Ryan needs to decide whether Joe Mauer is their 2014 catcher, if they really can trust Brian Dozier at second base and if some of the bright prospects in the organization are ready for the leap to Minneapolis.
However, there is one glaring need that must be addressed.
This would be the team's starting pitching, who's performance has been enjoyable as a trip to the dentist in recent seasons. In 2013, the Twins ranked last in starting rotation ERA a year after finishing a "respectable" 29th.
While they did see a numerical improvement in that area, it's time to realize the Twins have a pitching problem and must find a way to fix it.
Conventional wisdom says that the Twins will try to make a trade instead of throwing money at the problem, but the Twins do not have many major league assets. They could dive into their rich minor league system as well, but the pieces teams are likely asking for represent key parts of the team's future.
Ryan has to make a run in the free-agent market, and it can't be the team's traditional approach of high-risk, medium-reward signings. The Twins need legitimate starting pitching and they need it now without crossing their fingers that somebody can repeat a fluky career year.
Here's a look at some guys that the Twins should be looking at once free agency commences.