Report: AL Central rival is closing in on stealing Kenta Maeda away from Twins

The Twins are competing with an AL Central rival to re-sign Kenta Maeda in free agency.
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three
Division Series - Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins - Game Three / Brace Hemmelgarn/GettyImages

We're a few days away from the MLB Winter Meetings taking place, but the hot stove is already starting to heat up for the Minnesota Twins.

Coming off the heels of the most impressive postseason run since 2002, the expectation is that the Twins will make moves this winter to try and truly compete for a World Series next season. That's already a plan that has been complicated by the payroll getting slashed, which is forcing the front office to get creative in how it adds talent.

It also means that the Twins might not be able to go as hard in the paint as they otherwise would be to get some free agents back on new deals. One of those guys is Kenta Maeda, who is not only drawing interest from another team but is actively being pursued by an AL Central rival.

Tigers are stepping up efforts to sign Kenta Maeda away from Twins

Earlier this week it was reported that the Detroit Tigers were showing 'serious interest' in signing Maeda, despite the fact that there seems to be mutual interest in a reunion with the Twins. According to MLB insider Jon Morosi, those talks have intensified over the last few days.

Maeda didn't get the attention that guys like Sonny Gray and Pablo Lopez received, but he was still a critical piece of the strong pitching Minnesota had all season. The Twins need to find some back-end rotation help this winter, which is where a reunion with Maeda makes sense for the team.

If he's lost, the Twins will have to either look internally at guys like Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson, or try to trade for No. 4/No. 5-type starters using some of the team's positional depth as trade chips.

There's the hope that the trade chips can be flipped for a starter to replace Gray, who is also expected to leave in free agency. Of the two, Maeda was always a more realistic option for the Twins to pursue, even with a reduced payroll, but the interest from Detroit might complicate that and price Minnesota out.

More Minnesota Twins news and rumors