Mandatory credit: Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports
It’s that time of year baseball fans. Starting on Monday, December 9th, GMs, baseball reps, armies of scouts and other personnel will meet in Orlando, Florida for the 2013 Winter Meetings. In addition to the Rule 5 Draft, the Winter Meetings are historically a very active time for Hot Stove rumors and deals since so many GMs are in the same place at the same time. There has already been an uncommon league-wide free agency and trade frenzy before the meetings, including the Twins efforts to shore up their starting rotation, but lots of the top free agents still remain available for hire.
Plain and simple, signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes doesn’t immediately send the Minnesota Twins to the 2014 playoffs. There are still lots of holes in this Twins team, especially from an offensive standpoint, and Terry Ryan remains adamant that he isn’t finished making moves. What’s on the Twins Wish List? What sort of deals help the Twins immediately become a better team? Going into the offseason, most reports agreed that the Twins had $30-40 million to spend for 2014 to return to normal payroll levels. With Nolasco and Hughes signed to $20 million of that number, $10-20 million remain to address additional needs of the team.
Who’s secure around the diamond? Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier have first and second base locked down. The Twins signed Jason Bartlett to a minor league deal to give some competition to Pedro Florimon at short, but hot hitting Eduardo Escobar (.299/.350/.493 in 39 Venezuelan Winter League games) should compete as well. The outfield isn’t too flashy but a rebound year for Aaron Hicks would settle some questions in center. Oswaldo Arcia and Josh Willingham at the corner spots isn’t a great defensive pairing but they should make up for it with their offense and both can serve as DHs when they need rest time.
One of the biggest question marks is the hot corner. The Twins could be pretty conservative with promoting Miguel Sano, especially after seeing Hicks struggle skipping Triple A in 2013, but whoever is playing third is only a placeholder for him. Trevor Plouffe has played enough to prove that he isn’t a capable everyday MLB third baseman so bringing in a veteran 3B could be a logical move for the team if they want to better compete while they wait for Sano.
The other question mark is at catcher. The Twins swung and missed with A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia and decided to fill the spot with their in house options. However, there are some rumors floating around that Ryan Doumit told the team that he doesn’t want to catch anymore, which could complicate the backstop situation. The Twins are still rumored to be talking to free agent catchers like John Buck, after saying they were going in house, so perhaps the Doumit report is true. The Twins might be doing their pitchers a disservice by giving the majority of starts to Josmil Pinto, who needs more time to develop as a game caller and defender.
The Bullpen is solid and the starting rotation finally has some desirable depth to it. Nolasco, Hughes and Kevin Correia have the first three rotation spots, with a healthy Sam Deduno likely earning the fourth spot from his performance last year. A bunch of guys who started games for the Twins in 2013 will battle for the fifth spot but almost all of them could be topped by an above average signing or trade (i.e. Brett Anderson).
Terry Ryan has some money to spend and some holes to fill during the Winter Meetings. What would you do if you were in his position?