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Free agency may be Twins' best bet for starter

Club adds OF Heisey on Minors deal, but rotation remains priority
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's an unusual camp for the Twins, who saw their pitchers and catchers officially report Tuesday, as general manager Thad Levine confirmed they're still on the lookout to add another starting pitcher via free agency or trade.

Minnesota did make a roster move Tuesday, signing Chris Heisey to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training to add to its outfield depth at Triple-A Rochester, but it's starting pitching depth that concerns Levine. Several top starters remain on the market, such as Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta. The most recent notable starter to come to terms is Yu Darvish, who finalized a six-year deal with the Cubs on Tuesday.

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's an unusual camp for the Twins, who saw their pitchers and catchers officially report Tuesday, as general manager Thad Levine confirmed they're still on the lookout to add another starting pitcher via free agency or trade.

Minnesota did make a roster move Tuesday, signing Chris Heisey to a Minor League contract with an invitation to Spring Training to add to its outfield depth at Triple-A Rochester, but it's starting pitching depth that concerns Levine. Several top starters remain on the market, such as Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta. The most recent notable starter to come to terms is Yu Darvish, who finalized a six-year deal with the Cubs on Tuesday.

"We've been maintaining communication with clubs about trades and agents about free agents, but it's hard to really handicap if they've really gained more steam," Levine said. "And if they have, I think it has to do with more that camp is starting rather than one signing."

Spring Training information

Minnesota has also been linked to pitchers available via trade, such as Tampa Bay's Chris Archer or Jake Odorizzi, but Levine explained that there's a dearth of trade options for starting pitchers because most of the teams that expect not to contend this year have already sold off their top talent. It doesn't mean Minnesota won't make a trade for a starter, but it appears more likely the club will go the free-agency route.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

"The only thing slower so far than the free-agent market has been the trade market," Levine said. "With the wealth of free agents still out there, I don't think that's leaving teams looking to the trade market. … The prospect of kind of weakening one part of your team to strengthen another is not appealing."

Levine added that the Twins don't have an artificial deadline to add a starting pitcher. Though they'd rather make a move sooner than later in camp, if they bring in a veteran, they won't be as worried as if they bring in a player competing for a job. There's also a chance they add a right-handed bat such as Mike Napoli this spring, but it's not a priority.

Video: Carew looks forward to attending Spring Training

"The starting [pitching] is more of a need, while a bat is more of a want," Levine said. "And so, we're going to address our needs first and then see what reserves we have at that juncture."

Twins tidbits

• Third baseman Miguel Sano is expected to report to camp on time Friday but is currently working out in the Dominican Republic with Fernando Tatis. Sano has been hitting for the past few weeks but will participate in running drills this week. He'll be limited early in camp but is expected to be ready for the start of the season. MLB's investigation into his alleged sexual assault also remains ongoing, and there's no timeline.

• Right-handers Kyle Gibson and Ervin Santana were the only Twins pitchers not to report Tuesday. Gibson won't report until after his arbitration hearing this week, and Santana went to New York for a follow-up exam after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger last week. Santana is expected to return this weekend but isn't ready to start throwing yet.

Video: MLB Tonight: Ramifications of Ervin Santana's injury

• Several Twins position players have already started working out at the complex despite the first full-squad workouts not starting until Monday. Among those at camp include Joe Mauer, Max Kepler, Zack Granite, Ehire Adrianza and Robbie Grossman.

• Former Twins star Justin Morneau joined Fox Sports North's broadcast team and will call six games in the booth with Dick Bremer and 12 games as a pre- and postgame analyst. Morneau rejoined the organization as a special assistant this offseason and will also serve as a Spring Training instructor.

• Hall of Famer Rod Carew arrived at Twins camp on Tuesday and will serve as a special instructor again this spring. Carew has made a full recovery from his heart surgery in December 2016.

• The Twins will attend former National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum's showcase in Seattle on Thursday. Lincecum hasn't pitched since 2016 but has been working out at Driveline Baseball near Seattle.

• With closer Fernando Rodney taking Tyler Duffey's No. 56 and Glen Perkins retiring, Duffey will switch to No. 21 this season. Jason Castro will go from No. 21 to his usual No. 15, which he wore with the Astros.

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

Minnesota Twins