MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins completed their first major goal of the offseason in hiring Rocco Baldelli as their manager, and now they're working on filling out the coaching staff while also eying free agency and trades to improve the club after a disappointing 2018.The Twins surprisingly have more money coming
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins completed their first major goal of the offseason in hiring Rocco Baldelli as their manager, and now they're working on filling out the coaching staff while also eying free agency and trades to improve the club after a disappointing 2018.
The Twins surprisingly have more money coming off the books this offseason than any other club, so they have the flexibility to spend and add to the team heading into Baldelli's first year. There are plenty of questions about this club, so here's this week's Twins Inbox.
It's obvious Minnesota needs pitching help, and the Twins are likely to add at least one starter and several relievers, including a closer. They also are in the market for a middle infielder and potentially a corner infielder/designated hitter if Joe Mauer decides to retire as expected. It's hard to predict who they will sign, but they will have interest in just about any available starter or reliever.
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As for Baldelli's role, I don't think having him as manager changes what kind of players they are targeting in free agency this offseason. But it will be interesting to see what kinds of changes are in store with a new pitching coach and bullpen coach next year. James Rowson is back as hitting coach, so that philosophy isn't expected to change much.
Minnesota does have the payroll flexibility to sign Bryce Harper or Manny Machado, but it still remains much more likely the club uses that money to add to several holes on the roster rather than making a big splash for either player. Harper wouldn't make as much sense given its crowded outfield, but Machado would certainly be a huge upgrade to the left side of the infield.
The Twins, though, are better off waiting to make that kind of move once they are closer to being a legit contender in the American League. They have top prospects in shortstop Royce Lewis (No. 1 in the organization per MLB Pipeline) and outfielder Alex Kirilloff (No. 2) on the way in the next few years, and Minnesota is more likely to build around those players than sign a star this offseason.
Mauer is expected to make a decision whether or not to retire soon -- and it could come as early as this week -- as he doesn't want to hold up the front office as it looks to improve the club going into 2019. Mauer is still likely to retire, especially after his memorable sendoff in the last game of the season that saw him serve as catcher for one pitch.
If Mauer retires, the Twins will be in the market for a corner infielder/designated hitter they could group with third baseman Miguel Sano and first baseman Christopher Austin. There aren't many free-agent first basemen this offseason, as the top two available are the right-handed-hitting Steve Pearce and the left-handed-hitting Matt Adams.
It could make some sense, given how there isn't much of a first-base market this offseason. Minnesota, though, still believes Sano can play third, so it's not likely he moves full-time to first base just yet. But Moustakas would be an upgrade, add some power to the lineup, and he could rotate with Sano. But roster-wise, the Twins are more likely to look at versatile players such as free agent Marwin Gonzalez, especially after Eduardo Escobar re-signed with the D-backs.
I still don't see a reunion with the Twins, considering they didn't meet with him or his agent about an extension in Spring Training and traded him to the Dodgers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline. It'll be interesting to see what kind of deal Brian Dozier gets after a down year, but he's not expected back in Minnesota.
It's unlikely the Twins bring back Ervin Santana, but it can't be ruled out. He was solid during his time in Minnesota and seemed to enjoy his teammates and his place with the club. He'll pitch in the Dominican Winter League to try to show his velocity is back after last offseason's right middle finger surgery that limited him to just five starts. But it seems more likely he goes elsewhere this offseason.
Minnesota's biggest need this offseason is bullpen help, and fortunately there are plenty of solid free-agent relievers to choose from this winter. Craig Kimbrel is the top closer on the market, but the Twins are more likely to look at relievers such as Player Page for David Robertson, Jeurys Familia, Andrew Miller, Joe Kelly, Zach Britton or Joakim Soria. They could also look to buy low on former closers they know from the division as former Indians closer Cody Allen and former Royals closer Kelvin Herrera are also free agents.
Trevor May has the stuff to be a closer, but look for Minnesota to sign a veteran to take that role, much like it did last offseason when the club inked Fernando Rodney to a one-year deal with an option.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.