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Twins' FA departures could open up spots

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Historically, the Twins haven't been huge players in free agency, and the front office under chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine views it as more of a way to supplement a club than as a magic elixir.

In their first offseason in charge of the Twins, Falvey and Levine looked to create a better clubhouse culture, signing veterans like catchers Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez and relievers Matt Belisle and Craig Breslow. Castro was the lone big splash of the group, getting three years and $24.5 million.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Historically, the Twins haven't been huge players in free agency, and the front office under chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine views it as more of a way to supplement a club than as a magic elixir.

In their first offseason in charge of the Twins, Falvey and Levine looked to create a better clubhouse culture, signing veterans like catchers Jason Castro and Chris Gimenez and relievers Matt Belisle and Craig Breslow. Castro was the lone big splash of the group, getting three years and $24.5 million.

Hot Stove Tracker

This offseason, the plan is to improve both the rotation and the bullpen. It'll be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are in free agency, but Falvey said payroll shouldn't be much of an issue for the kinds of moves they're looking to make.

"We have support from ownership to make the decisions we need to make around team-building," Falvey said. "I genuinely believe teams are built internally as a group and you use free agency as a supplement. If we have opportunities to add and supplement in the right places, I'm confident ownership will give us support. I think our position-player core took a big step forward, but we need to continue to improve in the pitching area."

Video: MIN@DET: Grossman rips two-run single to center field

Free agents: Righty Belisle, lefties Hector Santiago and Glen Perkins.

Arbitration-eligible: Infielders Eduardo Escobar and Ehire Adrianza; righties Kyle Gibson, Ryan Pressly and Trevor May; outfielders Robbie Grossman; catcher Gimenez.

Biggest potential free-agent loss
After struggling early in the season, Belisle became a steady presence in the bullpen and filled in capably at closer in the second half after Brandon Kintzler was traded on July 31. Belisle posted a 1.71 ERA with nine saves after the All-Star break and was one of Minnesota's most vocal leaders in the clubhouse. The 37-year-old indicated at the end of the season he'd like to be back, and he'd be a welcome re-addition to the bullpen, but there's a chance he could sign elsewhere.

Potential free-agent targets
The Twins are on the lookout to improve both their rotation and bullpen after starters combined to post the 11th-highest ERA in the Majors and relievers had the eighth-highest. The Twins will need a closer after the departures of Belisle and Kintzler, but either could come back via free agency and there are plenty of veteran relievers available this offseason. Minnesota would like to sign at least one starting pitcher, but it's more likely to be a mid-rotation starter with an upside, such as Alex Cobb or Lance Lynn.

Video: MIN@CLE: Polanco crushes two-run homer off foul pole

Wild-card scenario
The Twins have depth up the middle with shortstop Jorge Polanco coming off a strong second half, Brian Dozier turning in yet another impressive year, Escobar enjoying a breakout season and shortstop prospect Nick Gordon nearly ready for the Majors. It would be a surprise, but the Twins could look to trade from that area of depth to improve the pitching. There's also still a chance Minnesota could target a right-handed bat who could play outfield or first base while also serving as designated hitter. They have internal candidates like Grossman, Kennys Vargas and ByungHo Park, but they could look for a more consistent power option.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins