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Minnesota Twins Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

Rick WeinerFeatured ColumnistNovember 1, 2013

Minnesota Twins Offseason Tracker: Hottest Trade Rumors, Free Agency News

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    After winning back-to-back AL Central crowns in 2009 and 2010, the Minnesota Twins have suffered through three consecutive losing seasons, finishing 30 games under .500 (66-96) for the second season in a row.

    With a handful of veteran bats still dotting the lineup and a severe lack of quality starting pitching, will GM Terry Ryan look to trade offense for the help on the mound that his club desperately needs?

    Or will the Twins look to plug the rotation with low-cost, low-risk veteran arms—and potentially bring back long-time 1B Justin Morneau—as they try to make one more run at the playoffs before finally shifting into full rebuilding mode?

    Keep it right here for the answers to those questions and more, as we'll be bringing you the most up-to-the-minute rumblings about the Twins, along with analysis and everything else that comes with it.

    While the post date will always show as November 1, simply click to the next slide to see the rumor mill's latest about the Twins as they put together their roster for the 2014 season.  

Minnesota's Free Agents and Done Deals

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    All the juicy rumors and analysis follow, but consider this your one-stop shop for all the comings and goings in Chicago this winter, including the status of the team's own free agents.

     

    Twins Free Agents

    RHP Mike Pelfrey (Re-signed Dec. 14)

     

    Done Deals

    Nov. 11: Sign SS Jason Bartlett to a non-roster deal with an invite to spring training

    Nov. 19: Traded RHP Duke Welker to Pittsburgh for LHP Kris Johnson

    Nov. 27: Signed RHP Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million deal (Analysis)

    Nov. 30: Signed RHP Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million deal (Analysis)

    Dec. 13: RHP Liam Hendriks claimed off waivers by Chicago (NL)

    Dec. 13: Signed OF/DH Jason Kubel to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training (Analysis)

    Dec. 14: Re-signed RHP Mike Pelfrey to a two-year, $11 million deal (Analysis)

    Dec. 18: Traded C/1B/OF Ryan Doumit to Atlanta for LHP Sean Gilmartin (Analysis)

    Dec. 20: Signed C Kurt Suzuki to a one-year, $2.75 million deal (Analysis)

Johan Santana: Free Agent, Twins Interested in Reunion with Former Ace

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    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Update: Monday, Dec. 30 at 8:48 a.m. ET

    Johan Santana has already received offers from a number of teams—but not the Twins, at least not yet—sources tell ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson.

    While Santana is no longer the dominating force that won a pair of Cy Young Awards in Minnesota and brings with him serious questions about his health, it would be a terrific story if he were to return to the Twins and find success once again.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 6:36 a.m. ET

    Johan Santana is very open to returning to the Twins, ESPN's Darren Wolfson tweets, noting that Minnesota has kept an open dialogue with their former ace even after re-signing Mike Pelfrey.

    While no deal appears imminent, it's certainly a possibility at some point in the not-so-distant future.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:54 p.m. ET

    The Twins met with Ed and Peter Greenberg, Santana's agents, but did not extend an offer to their former ace before parting ways, per a report from ESPN's Darren Wolfson.

    It is unknown whether the two sides plan on speaking again.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Nov. 8 at 2:43 p.m. ET

    The Minneapolis Star-Tribune's La Velle E. Neal III spoke with Ed Greenberg, one half of the brother team that represents Johan Santana, and has news on Santana's health—and his level of interest in rejoining the Twins:

    “Johan is progressing well. He’s into his throwing program and is feeling good,” said Ed Greenberg, who represents Santana along with brother Peter Greenberg. “It’s still a work in progress, but is progressing as planned.”

    “Johan still loves Minnesota,” Ed Greenberg said. “It has created an interesting option for him. But it is in the early stages, and a lot of teams have contacted us.”

    A reunion between the two sides remains an intriguing possibility, one that Santana doesn't appear ready to close the door on anytime soon.

    --End of Update--

     

    A reunion with one of the best pitchers in team history may not be out of the question this winter, as ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson says that the Twins have reached out to former ace Johan Santana.

    The southpaw, who celebrates his 35th birthday before Opening Day, has missed two of the past three seasons with injuries, tossing only 117 innings since the end of the 2010 season.

    But the four-time All-Star and two-time AL Cy Young Award winner is thought to be healthy for the first time in years, and a return to the team with whom he had his greatest success might be just what Santana needs to get things back on track.

    Despite his impressive resume, Santana isn't going to command big money on the open market, and it's hard to see a team offering him anything other than an incentive-laden one-year deal, perhaps one with a team option for a second year if he proves that he's healthy and back to being a productive starter.

    While his glory days are firmly behind him, Santana may have enough left in the tank to be a serviceable arm for a few more years. The Twins have nothing to lose by finding out if that's the case—and the former fan favorite would certainly draw a crowd at Target Field when he steps on the mound.

Masahiro Tanaka: Twins Plan on Being in the Mix

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    Saturday, Dec. 28 at 11:35 a.m. ET

    The Twins plan are among the teams interested in signing 25-year-old Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka, a team official tells 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson, the latest rumor surrounding Minnesota's continued efforts to rebuild its starting rotation.

    While landing Tanaka would be a major addition to a Twins roster that has already added Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to the pitching staff, Tanaka is expected to command a multi-year deal in excess of $100 million when the dust finally settles.

    With nearly every team in baseball, including the Dodgers and Yankees, hot on Tanaka's trail, calling the Twins chances of landing Tanaka a long shot doesn't seem incorrect, given the incredibly deep pockets that their competition for his services has.

     

Suk-min Yoon: Free Agent Target

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    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 3:51 p.m. ET

    Darren Wolfson of ESPN1500 checked in with the Twins on their level of interest in Yoon, and sources told him that while the Korean remains on the team's radar, he's a "lower priority" than some of the other players that the Twins are currently engaged with.

    --End of Update--

     

    After getting mediocre results from its forays into the free-agent pitching market in recent years, the Twins may be shifting their focus overseas.

    According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, 27-year-old Korean right-hander Suk-min Yoon is on Minnesota's radar, and could wind up a member of the team's rotation in 2014.

    Mike Radcliff, the team's vice president for player personnel, did little to dispute that theory. He told Berardino that the Twins were "fully engaged" on the Yoon front, remarking that "We've watched him forever."

    However, Yoon is far from a sure thing—something that Tim Dierkes of MLBTradeRumors.com recently went into more detail about:

    Yoon dealt with a shoulder injury in 2013, about which not much is known publicly.  Jee-ho Yoo of the Yonhap News Agency tells me the injury "seemed serious."  Yoon made 11 starts with a 4.16 ERA, as well as 19 relief appearances with a 3.60 mark.

    If Minnesota's medical staff gives him a clean bill of health, Yoon, who isn't expected to get a large contract, could be one of the first signings that the Twins make this winter. 

Bronson Arroyo: Free Agent, Still No Offer Extended

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    John Sommers II/Getty Images

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 3:50 p.m. ET

    Minnesota and Arroyo continue to speak, sources tell ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson, though it doesn't appear that the two sides are any closer to an agreement than they have been for nearly two months.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Saturday, Dec. 14 at 9:23 p.m. ET

    The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino tweeted that a source has told him that the Twins remain interested in signing Arroyo despite signing Mike Pelfrey, Phil Hughes and Ricky Nolasco.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Dec. 13 at 7:37 p.m. ET

    The race for Arroyo is down to four teams: the Reds, Twins and two mystery teams, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman.

    The Angels, Orioles and Yankees have also been linked to the veteran free agent this winter, and all three need to add at least one more starting pitcher to their rotations.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Dec. 13 at 6:31 p.m. ET

    The Reds have told Arroyo that they'll give him a one-year deal, according to ESPN's Buster Olney.

    Arroyo is known to be seeking a multi-year deal, so there's little chance that he'd accept their offer. But the Twins are going to have to decide, sooner, rather than later, whether to extend an offer to Arroyo or not.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 10:27 a.m. ET

    The New York Post's Joel Sherman tweets that Bronson Arroyo could sign with a club at the Winter Meetings. He is expected to get a deal around $36 million over three years.

    The Reds, who recently jumped back in on the veteran, and the Minnesota Twins appear to be the leaders for Arroyo. 

    ---End of update---

     

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 11 at 6:05 a.m. ET

    The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino tweets that the Twins aren't convinced that Arroyo wants to pitch in Minnesota and are waiting for the veteran to convince them that he does before officially making him their top choice to fill out the rotation.

    While you can't fault the Twins for not wanting to be used as leverage for a player to get a more lucrative offer from another team, the longer they wait on Arroyo, the more teams that may become interested in signing him. Case in point: It wasn't until the last 48 hours when the Reds, with whom he's spent the past eight years, had expressed any interest in re-signing him.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Tuesday, Dec. 10 at 7:50 p.m. ET

    Despite multiple meetings with Arroyo's representatives, the Twins have still not extended the free agent an offer, according to ESPN's Darren Wolfson.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 3:12 p.m. ET

    Talks between the Twins and Arroyo are heating up, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal, who says that the team is making a strong push to sign the veteran as it continues to revamp its starting rotation.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Dec. 9 at 11:30 a.m. ET

    Darren Wolfson from 1500ESPN Twin Cities reports that the Twins will meet with Arroyo's agents later this afternoon.

    Whether the team will finally extend him an offer, after nearly a month of speculation, remains to be seen. The Twins are one of 15 teams to have expressed some level of interest in the veteran free agent, according to Nick Cafardo from the Boston Globe.

    Even if the Twins miss out on Arroyo, it's clear that the team is not done bolstering their rotation.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update, Tuesday, Nov. 25 at 4:00 p.m. ET

    Wolfson says that Arroyo is looking for a three-year deal in the neighborhood of $27-to-$30 million. It's the years, not the money, that seems to have Minnesota concerned.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Nov. 25 at 11:30 p.m. ET

    1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson says that the Twins still have not extended an offer to Arroyo—or any of the starting pitchers to which they've been linked—and that the team will likely have to offer him a three-year deal to bring him to Target Field.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:23 p.m. ET

    As has been widely reported over the past few weeks, the Twins remain very high on signing Arroyo, according to MLBTradeRumors.com's Tim Dierkes, who says that the team is optimistic that it can bring the veteran in on a two-year deal.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Nov. 21 at 6:56 p.m. ET

    The Twins have yet to make Arroyo an offer, according to Berardino, but are willing to go three years on a deal for the veteran starter. Arroyo has stated that he's looking for a multi-year deal, so Minnesota's willingness to go three years could put them ahead of the other teams vying for his services.

    Signing Arroyo has seemingly become Minnesota's top priority, which makes the fact that they've yet to extend a formal offer all the more odd.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Monday, Nov. 18 at 4:13 p.m. ET

    Arroyo told Sirius/XM's Jim Bowden that while the Twins are one of the teams interested in him, he has yet to receive an offer from anyone.

    The veteran said that Baltimore, Philadelphia and both Los Angeles teams have expressed interest in him as well.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 12:08 a.m. ET

    Berardino reports that talks between the Twins and Arroyo are heating up at the GM meetings in Orlando.

    While no contract negotiations have taken place yet, the team has been reviewing his medical records and discussed guarantee language in a potential contract with his agents.

    --End of Update--

     

    Minnesota's seemingly never-ending search for starting pitching continues as Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that the Twins have expressed preliminary interest in the veteran right-hander.

    Arroyo, who will celebrate his 37th birthday before Opening Day 2014, has been one of the more reliable starters in baseball over the past nine years, tossing at least 200 innings in all but one season—2011, when he finished one shy of the mark with 199.

    He's coming off of a solid campaign for Cincinnati that saw him go 14-12 with a 3.79 ERA and 1.15 WHIP, his second consecutive season with a sub-4.00 ERA. While allows too many home runs, leading baseball for the second time in three years with 32 long balls hit off of him, some of that can be attributed to him making half of his starts in Great American Ballpark, one of the more hitter-friendly venues in the game.

    Unlike some of the other names that Minnesota has been linked to early this offseason, Arroyo isn't going to command a long-term commitment or a significant financial investment. Not extended a qualifying offer by the Reds, the Twins would not have to surrender a draft pick if they did wind up signing him.

    While other teams are sure to have interest in him, he'd be a good fit with the Twins, where he would serve as one of the leaders of the team's relatively young, inexperienced rotation.

Mark Reynolds: Twins Interested in Free Agent Slugger

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Tuesday, Dec. 24 at 3:43 p.m. ET

    When asked whether the team signing Reynolds was realistic, a source told ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson: "Realistic if we want him. There's no consensus on marginal players."

    Marginal as he may be, Reynolds would at the very least add a powerful bat to the team's bench and start at DH against left-handed pitching, against who he's posted an .834OPS over his career.

    --End of Update--

     

    Tuesday, Dec. 17 at 5:03 p.m. ET

    The Twins have some level of interest in signing Mark Reynolds, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets.

    Reynolds, 30, hit .236 with 12 extra-base hits (six home runs), 19 RBI and a .755 OPS over 120 at-bats for the Yankees while filling in at both first base and third base, and hit a combined .220 with 21 home runs and 69 RBI over 504 plate appearances between New York and Cleveland in 2013.

    He's the prototypical all-or-nothing slugger: either he goes deep or he strikes out, something he's become incredibly adept at doing, leading the league in strikeouts four times over a seven-year career.

    Able to play both corner infield spots, Reynolds could serve as competition with Trevor Plouffe for the third base job, split time with Ryan Doumit at designated hitter or provide manager Ron Gardenhire with a powerful right-handed bat off of the bench.

     

Justin Turner: Twins "Checked In" with Versatile Free Agent Infielder

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    Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

    Sunday, Dec. 22 at 10:43 p.m. ET

    ESPN1500 Darren Wolfson hears that the Twins have had some contact with 29-year-old free agent Justin Turner, though it's not known exactly what the team's level of interest is.

    Turner, who spent the past four seasons with the New York Mets, has a Twins connection in special assistant Wayne Krivsky, who drafted Turner in 2006 when he was GM of the Cincinnati Reds

    While primarily a second baseman, Turner is versatile enough to play first base, shortstop and third base as well. A career .260/.323/.361 hitter, Turner offers more offense and a slightly better glove than Eduardo Escobar, who has filled a utility spot on skipper Ron Gardenhire's bench each of the past two years.

    Minnesota has nothing to lose by signing Turner to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training, where he can battle it out with Escobar for a bench spot.

Dec. 20: Signed C Kurt Suzuki

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    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Bats: R

    2013 Stats: .232/.290/.337, 5 HR, 32 RBI, 2-for-2 SB

    Contract Status: One year, $2.75 million (plus incentives)

    Twins GM Terry Ryan has struck again, signing veteran backstop Kurt Suzuki, his latest acquisition in what has been about as good a winter for the Twins as the team has had in years.

    An excellent defensive catcher and game-caller, Suzuki's biggest impact on the Twins won't necessarily come at the plate but in the clubhouse and on the practice field, where he, along with Joe Mauer, will help to mentor 24-year-old Josmil Pinto, who will get the bulk of the playing time.

    A career .253 hitter who offers some power, Suzuki knows how to get on base and has historically performed well against nearly all of Minnesota's division rivals with one exception—never a bad thing:

    Opponent (Games Played)BAOBPOPS XBH (HR)RBI
    Chicago (41).290.356.78310 (5)25
    Detroit (41).280.366.75011 (2)17
    Kansas City (36).260.358.7017 (2)10
    Cleveland (33).218.304.6738 (5)15

    Most importantly, Suzuki's salary shouldn't prohibit the Twins from adding another veteran starter to the rotation, as he essentially takes up the money the team saved when it traded Ryan Doumit to Atlanta.

Dec. 18: Acquired LHP Sean Gilmartin

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Age: 23

    Throws: L

    2013 Stats (Triple-A): 17 GS, 3-8, 5.74 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 91 IP, 3.3 BB/9, 6.4 K/9

    Contract Status: Yet to make his major league debut

     

    The Twins continue to add pitching to the organization and may have landed a keeper in Sean Gilmartin, named Atlanta's 10th best prospect heading into 2014 by Baseball America.

    He battled shoulder tendinitis and an assortment of other ailments in 2013, leading to a less-than-stellar Triple-A debut campaign, but he remains a southpaw with some upside, with a ceiling of a solid No. 3 or above-average No. 4 starter in a big league rotation.

    A finesse pitcher who has three quality pitches (a fastball, changeup and slider) that all come out of the same arm angle with his easily repeatable delivery, Gilmartin relies on deception and command more than pure stuff to get batters out—though his stuff is pretty good.

    His fastball sits in the low-90s with some movement and his change grades as a plus offering, while his slider tops out in the low-80s and has a sharp, late break. That he's confident in pounding the lower-half of the strike zone and able to paint the black makes him all the more effective.

    Gilmartin figures to start the season at Triple-A Rochester, though he's sure to get a shot at breaking camp with the team in spring training. 

    In dealing Ryan Doumit, the Twins just cleared $3.5 million from their 2014 payroll, perhaps giving the team enough available cash to make one more major addition to the rotation.

Matt Garza: Free Agent Open to Return

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Update: Wednesday, Dec. 18 at 5:08 p.m. ET

    Signing Matt Garza remains "highly unlikely" for the Twins, sources tell 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson.

    Contract length—and not the annual salary—seems to remain a hurdle that neither side can get past.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Dec. 13 at 12:46 p.m. ET

    The Twins are still in on Garza, Darren Wolfson of 1500ESPN tweets. with four years being the sticking point. Bases on his conversations with sources, Wolfson believes that the Twins won't give him a four-year, $60 million deal—at least not yet.

    That said, the team sounds like it is prepared to go $15 million a year to bring Garza back.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Dec. 13 at 6:23 a.m. ET

    La Velle E. Neal III from the Star Tribune says that the major issue surrounding Garza is the length of the deal that he's seeking, which some believe to be four-or-five years.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Thursday, Dec. 12 at 1:36 a.m. ET

    The Twins "know the price" it will take to sign Garza, according to ESPN's Darren Wolfson, who says that Garza would "gladly come back" to Minnesota.

    With Garza's agent, Nez Balelo, having already left the Winter Meetings, the Twins will probably have to wait until the weekend to continue discussions.

    The Angels and Diamondbacks have also been linked to the free agent in recent days.

    --End of Update--

     

    Update: Friday, Nov. 15 at 8:46 p.m. ET

    Darren Wolfson from ESPN1500 says that the Twins are willing to go as many as five years on a deal for a starting pitcher—either Garza or Ricky Nolasco—and that the deciding factor will ultimately be money.

    At this point, it's a waiting game to see which pitcher blinks first.

    --End of Update--

     

    Friday, Nov. 15 at 3:20 p.m. ET

    Matt Garza, Minnesota's first round pick in the 2005 draft, is open to a return to Minnesota according to ESPN1500's Darren Wolfson, who says that the Twins are more interested in Garza than fellow free agent Ricky Nolasco, contrary to earlier reports.

    Garza, who celebrates his 30th birthday later this month, split the 2013 season between the Cubs and Rangers, going a combined 10-6 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, striking out 136 batters over 155 innings of work.

    The Twins met with Garza's representatives at the GM meetings, according to Wolfson, but are not believed to have extended the right-hander an offer yet.

Dec. 14: Mike Pelfrey Agrees to a Two-Year Deal with the Minnesota Twins

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Mike Pelfrey has agreed to a deal with the Minnesota Twins, according to CBS Sports' Jon Heyman. The deal is worth $11 million, plus $3.5 million in performance bonuses, over two seasons, via Heyman.

    Pelfrey, 29, went 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA and 1.56 WHIP over 29 starts for the Twins in 2013. While his overall numbers are, well, awful, Pelfrey enjoyed a 14-game stretch from June through August that saw him pitch to a 3.73 ERA and 1.34 WHIP.

    This signing doesn't break the bank and gives the Twins someone who can eat some innings. From 2008 to 2011, Pelfrey threw at least 184 innings in every season.

    This signing completes the Twins' quest to pack their rotations with veterans. After signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes, Pelfrey will be able to pitch behind those guys.

     

Jason Kubel: Veteran Outfielder Coming Home

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Update: Friday, Dec. 13 at 11:37 p.m. ET

    Kubel and the Twins have come to an agreement on a deal, CBS Sports' Jon Heyman reports. ESPN's Darren Wolfson adds that it's a minor league deal, one that we can safely assume comes with an invitation to spring training.

    --End of Update--

     

    Friday, Dec. 13 at 10:38 a.m. ET

    CBS Sports' Jon Heyman tweets that the Twins have been talking to former outfielder Jason Kubel about a possible reunion, though it's not clear how serious those talks have gotten.

    Kubel, 31, headed for a bigger payday after the 2011 season, signing a two-year, $15 million deal with Arizona. After a solid 2012 that saw him hit .253 with 30 home runs, 90 RBI and an .833 OPS, everything fell apart. Kubel struggled to produce in 2013.

    He lost his starting job and ultimately, his roster spot in Arizona, traded to Cleveland at the end of August. Between the two teams, Kubel hit only .216 with five home runs, 32 RBI and a .610 OPS, all the worst numbers of his nine-year career.

    A return to the Twins in a part-time role, where he had his most success, could be what he needs to get back on track. He'd likely serve as a left-handed bat off of the bench and potentially split time with Ryan Doumit as a DH against right-handed pitching.

Twins Can Still Add a "Big-Ticket" Player

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    Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

    Thursday, Dec. 12 at 10:35 a.m. ET

    ESPN's Darren Wolfson spoke with Twins owner Jim Pohlad and asked him if, hypothetically GM Terry Ryan could still add a player that commanded a $15 million annual salary. The answer was yes, noting that the team's concern may be the number of years that hypothetical player wants, not the salary.

    While this doesn't mean that the Twins will add another big-ticket item to the roster before Opening Day, the fact that they could has to be heartening to Twins fans that have patiently waited for the team to return to the land of contenders in the AL Central.

     

Nov. 30: Sign RHP Phil Hughes

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    Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images

    Age: 27

    Throws: R

    2013 Stats: 4-14, 5.19 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 145.2 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 7.5 K/9

    Contract Status: Three years, $24 million

     

    I'm in the minority, but I absolutely love this move for the Twins.

    On the surface, Phil Hughes numbers last year with the Yankees make you nauseous and convinced that Twins GM Terry Ryan has lost his mind. But a closer look shows that Hughes, a fly ball pitcher, was victimized by his surroundings.

    At Yankee Stadium, Hughes pitched to a 6.32 ERA and 1.55 WHIP, allowing 17 bombs over 78.1 innings. Away from the Bronx, Hughes pitched to a 3.88 ERA and 1.35 WHIP, allowing seven home runs in just over 67 innings of work. 

    Owner of a career 2.53 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over 21.1 innings at Target Field, Hughes still has some upside and is a perfect bounce back candidate now that he's away from the pressure of playing for the Yankees, where, as a former top prospect, expectations for him were consistently through the roof.

    While there will be pressure for him to succeed in Minnesota, that he can just go out and pitch—not worrying that he's going to lose his spot in the rotation if he has a bad outing, which was often the case in New York—could be all that he needs to get his once promising career back on track.

     

     

Nov. 27: Twins Sign RHP Ricky Nolasco

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Age: 30

    Throws: R

    2013 Stats: 13-11, 3.70 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 199.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 7.4 K/9

    Contract Status: Four years, $49 million ($13 million 2018 option, $1 million buyout)

     

    Make no mistake about it—signing Ricky Nolasco was a good move by the Twins and it immediately improves what was a terrible starting rotation. That Minnesota doesn't have to surrender a draft pick as compensation for signing him is an added bonus.

    Over an eight-year career spent entirely in the National League, he has has pitched to a 4.37 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He's made at least 31 starts in five of the past six seasons, exceeding 190 innings four times.

    While he's not going to contend for a strikeout title, Nolasco's ability to miss bats is something the Twins haven't had in a very long time, as noted by CBS Sports:

    "New Twin Ricky Nolasco had 165 K in 2013. The last non-Liriano, non-Johan Twins pitcher with 165 K in a season was Brad Radke in 1997 (174)."

    A solid, dependable starter who will eat innings, Nolasco is being miscast in Minnesota as a front-of-the-rotation arm. ESPN's Dan Szymborski makes an excellent point along those lines on Twitter:

    "Nolasco a *much* better fit for a good team trying to get over the hump, not on a rebuilding team that needs upside over certainty."

    Simply put, the Twins need more than Nolasco to get back into contention. Signing him is a terrific start, but the team needs to add at least one more legitimate starter to have a chance at contending in 2014.

Chris Capuano: Free Agent on Twins Radar

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    Thursday, Nov. 21 at 11:54 p.m. ET

    The St. Paul Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino says that we can add 35-year-old southpaw Chris Capuano to the list of pitchers that the Twins have interest in adding to the rotation this winter.

    Capuano, who has undergone Tommy John surgery twice in his career, went 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in 24 games (20 starts) for the Dodgers in 2013. A one-time 18-game winner with Milwaukee (2005), the nine-year veteran has spent his entire career in the National League.

    More of a finesse pitcher than anything else, there's a bit more risk involved with him switching leagues than there would be with some of the other starters that the Twins have been linked to, but he'd also come with a substantially lower price tag.

Grady Sizemore: Twins No Longer Interested in Former All-Star

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    Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

    Thursday, Nov. 21 at 12:20 p.m. ET

    Once considered one of the best all-around players in the game, Grady Sizemore's career has been felled by multiple knee injuries and surgeries. The 30-year-old hasn't appeared in a major league game since 2011 and has played in only 104 games since 2009, but he's trying to work his way back into the league.

    According to ESPN's Darren Wolfson, he won't be making a comeback in Minnesota, as the Twins are no longer interested in bringing him aboard after keeping tabs on his progress.

Ervin Santana: Free Agent Contacted by Minnesota

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    Update: Wednesday, Nov. 13 at 10:24 a.m. ET

    The New York Post's Joel Sherman reports that Santana's agents are seeking a five-year, $112 million deal and are comparing him to former AL Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke.

    At that price, and with multiple holes to fill, we can safely assume that the Twins will spend their money elsewhere this winter.

    --End of Update--

     

    Per 1500ESPN's Darren Wolfson, the Twins have officially reached out to free agent starter Ervin Santana as the team looks to rebuild its starting rotation this winter.

    Santana, who celebrates his 31st birthday in December, is coming off of an excellent 2013 that saw him pitch to a 3.24 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 32 starts for Kansas City, striking out 161 batters in 211 innings of work.

    The right-hander, who Wolfson notes the Twins tried to trade for last November when he was a member of the Los Angeles Angels, has made three career starts at Target Field, going 2-0 with a 3.10 ERA and 1.14 WHIP.

    Kansas City extended a qualifying offer to Santana, so Minnesota would have to surrender a second-round draft pick were it to sign him (the team's first round pick is protected)—but that's a sacrifice worth making for a team that needs to add established major league starters to its pitching staff.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Twins Interested in Free Agent Hurler

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    From ESPN1500.com's Darren Wolfson comes a report that not only are the Twins planning on being aggressive when it comes to the free agent market this offseason, but that Ubaldo Jimenez is on the team's radar.

    Jimenez, 29, got his career back on track in 2013 after a miserable year-and-a-half in Cleveland, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 1.33 WHIP while averaging more than a strikeout per inning.

    While Jimenez is likely going to come with draft pick compensation attached to him, Minnesota's first round pick in 2014 (fifth overall) is protected, so reaching an agreement with the veteran would, from the Twins side, be more about the financial cost than anything else.

    In four career starts at Target Field, Jimenez has pitched to a 2.63 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, and, as will be the case with nearly every established big league starter that the team is linked to, his arrival would be a major addition to one of the worst rotations in baseball.

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