FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After an 0-9 start that essentially derailed their chances of competing in 2016, the Twins were sellers at the Trade Deadline last year after being buyers in the previous year, acquiring players who could help them this season, such as left-handers Hector Santiago and Adalberto Mejia.The
FORT MYERS, Fla. -- After an 0-9 start that essentially derailed their chances of competing in 2016, the Twins were sellers at the Trade Deadline last year after being buyers in the previous year, acquiring players who could help them this season, such as left-handers Hector Santiago and Adalberto Mejia.
The Twins, though, are hoping for a better start and to avoid being sellers yet again this year, especially when it comes to second baseman James Dozier. Dozier, coming off a 42-homer season, was subject to trade rumors throughout the offseason.
Dozier, who has two years and $15 million left on his contract, could be a trade candidate at the Deadline this year if the Twins get off to another slow start, but he's hopeful that won't be the case.
"I've got two years left, I don't want it to always be like a ping-pong ball or something any time an opening comes up and all that," Dozier said. "I don't really know how to put it, but I don't want to be that, up until the Trade Deadline and next offseason and stuff. I'm here and I'm trying to help this team win games, and that's what I'm here for."
Dozier said the Twins' key will be avoiding another poor start, as they also started slowly in 2015 before finishing with an 83-win season.
"Last year it was pretty evident that we were hoping for a good start, but we ended up with the worst start," Dozier said. "I don't want to put too much pressure, like we can't lose on Opening Day, but the fact of the matter is that we can't put ourselves in ruts we're incapable of getting ourselves out of. And we did that last year, and you saw how that ended up. We have to get off, I'm not going to say to a great start, but we have to find things that are going to make us successful."
But if the Twins are sellers again this season, they'll be on the lookout for pitching, as they finally have some young arms close to being ready to contribute such as Jose Berrios, Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero and Mejia, but could always use more pitching help after finishing with the second-worst ERA (5.08) in the Majors last year, behind Arizona's 5.09.
Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey has been careful to say what he expects from this team this year, but he believes they're much better than their showing last season, when they finished with the worst record in the Majors.
"I don't think our group as a whole was reflective of 103 losses last year," he said. "No one is running from that. There is talent on the field that we believe will take a meaningful step forward this year. I think our club will be better and a lot of guys in that clubhouse feel that way, too. We'll take that next step toward the team we're trying to build long term."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Read his blog, **Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter [@RhettBollinger](https://twitter.com/RhettBollinger)** and listen to his podcast.