Twins clear spots on 40-man roster, free agency begins



After crash-landing into the offseason almost four weeks ago, the Minnesota Twins wasted little time before making major offseason changes.  Now, with the 2012 World Series in the books, free agency and Hot Stove season have officially begun.

To prepare for an active offseason, the Twins made a number of moves last week that cleared space on their 40-man roster.  No longer with the Twins organization are:

In the days following the World Series, more players officially depart:

That certainly doesn’t cover all of the players the Twins could release or lose this offseason.  One player they are not expected to retain is second baseman Alexi Casilla, an arbitration-eligible player that simply isn’t worth the pricetag.  The Twins are also expected to decline the team option for RHP Scott Bakerbut they hope to work out a new contract with him.  Baker spent the 2012 season recovering from Tommy John surgery, but resigning him is a high priority for GM Terry Ryan.

Additionally, the Twins would be foolish not to pursue Burton, who became a key part of the bullpen.  Posting a 2.18 ERA with 62.0 IP in 64 games, Burton was one gem that Terry Ryan mined last offseason.  After Capps was sidelined with an injury, Burton successfully split closing duties with Glen Perkins, until they final settled into a Burton/Perkins set-up/closer pattern.

On the other hand, might it be time to part with RHP Anthony Swarzak?  Over the last two years, Swarzak has posted ERAs of 5.03 (2012) and 4.32 (2011) in the majors and has bounced between starting, spot-starting, and long-reliever roles.  Having just finished the season earning a modest $487,500, he might be an attractive risk to a team that thinks they could figure him out.

With the Twins focused on acquiring more pitching this year, particularly starting pitching, it’s likely some position players will leave through a trade for diamond-in-the-rough pitchers that Ryan hopes his new staff can polish.  While everyone except Mauer is considered on the table, the current outfield and first basemen are the likeliest players from the Twins to depart via trade.

So, gather around the Hot Stove and speculate until your heart’s content!