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Inbox: How should Twins upgrade pitching?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers questions from fans
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have made it clear they're looking to be aggressive this offseason in their pursuit of frontline starting pitching to improve the club.

Twins general manager Thad Levine told MLB Network Radio that finding a way to entice Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Twins is a top priority for the club, and that they're also interested in ace Yu Darvish. Minnesota has already been linked to other top starters such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have made it clear they're looking to be aggressive this offseason in their pursuit of frontline starting pitching to improve the club.

Twins general manager Thad Levine told MLB Network Radio that finding a way to entice Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani to sign with the Twins is a top priority for the club, and that they're also interested in ace Yu Darvish. Minnesota has already been linked to other top starters such as Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn.

Finding relief help and a right-handed bat are also on the shopping list for the Twins this offseason, but their priority right now is adding to the rotation, which brings us to the first question of this week's Twins Inbox.

Tweet from @NaylorMR: Should @Twins spend more money on starting pitching or relief pitching?

Minnesota is looking to acquire at least one starting pitcher and likely two relievers this offseason and has some payroll flexibility because it has roughly $85 million tied up in contracts, including estimated arbitration raises. Of course, the Twins could also go the trade route for either starting pitching or relief help, but if they opt for free agency, it would make sense to spend more of their money on a starter rather than on a bullpen arm. 

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Signing Darvish or even Arrieta remains unlikely unless their price tags come down, but going after a pitcher like Cobb or Lynn would make some sense and would be within the Twins' budget. It would also allow them to spend more on relief help. There's not much star power among the available relievers outside of Wade Davis, but there is plenty of depth, so Minnesota should be able to find relief talent within its price range.

Tweet from @Twins_guyTJZ: If the Twins don���t sign a reliever to be their closer, which internal candidates could serve in that role in 2018?

Trevor Hildenberger is the most likely in-house candidate to close if the Twins don't acquire a closer this offseason. He was their best setup reliever as a rookie, and has 52 career saves in the Minors. But finding a veteran who can close seems likely.

Tweet from @Twins_Fan87: Any chance Twins target Napoli or Batista for the right handed power bat? #TwinsInbox

The Twins would like to add some right-handed thump to their lineup and are looking for a player who can serve as part-time designated hitter with the ability to play first base or outfield. They still have Kennys Vargas and Robbie Grossman on the roster, but Vargas is too inconsistent and Grossman doesn't have much power.

Jose Bautista and Mike Napoli both fit that bill, but are coming off down seasons. Other players they could target include Mark Reynolds and Yonder Alonso. J.D. Martinez will be out of Minnesota's price range, while the switch-hitting Carlos Santana is intriguing, especially with Twins vice president and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey's ties to the Indians. However, Minnesota is more likely to spend big money on pitching.

Tweet from @ConnorGould67: Will the Twins try to extend any of Dozier, Buxton, Rosario, Kepler, Sano, and Berrios? Or is the money more going to be spent on free agency?

The Twins would love to extend some of their young core players because it provides cost certainty, and players are usually willing to sacrifice a year or two of free agency for the guaranteed money that comes with an extension. But it's up to the players themselves, especially if they believe they can make similar money via arbitration before cashing in on free agency. There haven't been any rumblings about potential extensions for pre-arbitration players yet.

Brian Dozier is the only one of that group who is an impending free agent, just like Joe Mauer, so it'll be interesting to see how the Twins handle extensions for veterans this offseason as well.

Tweet from @ClatonsVoice: Is there a reasonable chance the @Twins will pursue and sign Ohtani?

Every team in baseball would love a shot at Ohtani, and the Twins have been working closely with his agency, CAA, on a pitch to entice him to come to Minnesota. The Twins also have the third-most money from their bonus pool to offer the two-way sensation, at $3.245 million, behind the Rangers and Yankees. But it's still very unlikely Ohtani will choose to come play for the Twins, as he's more likely to go to a big-market franchise.

Tweet from @DoctorAmish: Have you ever been ice fishing?

I have not, but I've always wanted to, so if any Twins fans have any advice on ice fishing this winter, let me know. 

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

Minnesota Twins