MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will be looking to supplement their young core this offseason, and improving the pitching staff will be the top priority of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and the rest of the front office.Coming off a surprise run to the American League Wild
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins will be looking to supplement their young core this offseason, and improving the pitching staff will be the top priority of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey, general manager Thad Levine and the rest of the front office.
Coming off a surprise run to the American League Wild Card Game, the Twins don't have any major impending free agents, and they've re-signed manager Paul Molitor to a three-year deal and hired Garvin Alston as pitching coach. But the club needs to improve both the rotation and the bullpen if they're to compete again in '18.
Here are three questions the Twins face this offseason as they look to build a consistent winner.
Free agents: RHP Matt Belisle, LHP Hector Santiago, LHP Glen Perkins
Arbitration-eligible: INF Eduardo Escobar, RHP Kyle Gibson, INF Ehire Adrianza, RHP Thomas Pressly, OF Robbie Grossman, RHP Trevor May, C Chris Gimenez.
1. How much starting pitching will the Twins acquire and at what cost?
The Twins will bring back Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios, Gibson and Adalberto Mejia, while Phil Hughes is coming off a second operation for thoracic outlet syndrome and May is coming off Tommy John surgery. Prospects Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero are also on the way.
But the Twins still want another veteran arm they count on, given how much uncertainty the current group has. Starting pitchers on the free-agent market who could make sense include Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, but starting pitching via free agency never comes cheaply. It could make more sense to trade for a starter, especially a cost-controlled one, but it would mean trading prospects.
2. How will the bullpen look by the end of the offseason?
After trading impending free agent Brandon Kintzler and with Belisle set to become a free agent, the Twins don't have a closer on their roster. They are likely to add one this offseason instead of using an internal option, which would be a youngster such as Trevor Hildenberger. Kintzler and Belisle are both candidates to return to the Twins, especially Belisle, who expressed interest in coming back at the end of the season.
The Twins do have some intriguing young arms in their system, but it was clear in the Wild Card Game they don't have the kind of bullpen that can blow away hitters that teams like the Yankees have. So adding relief arms that can rack up strikeouts will be a goal this offseason.
3. Will the Twins pull off any surprises?
It's hard to predict what the front office will do in offseason No. 2, and so it'll be interesting to see how aggressive Falvey and Levine are in improving the team. Making a major trade or a big splash via free agency would excite the fanbase, but the front office is intent on creating a consistent winner rather than the winning the offseason.
But the Twins could make an unexpected move such as signing or trading for a right-handed bat to add to an offense that led the Majors in runs scored in the second half of the season. The addition of a frontline starter would seemingly be the biggest boost for the Twins, but there are plenty of ways to improve a team that won 85 games in '17, and creativity will be key going forward.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.