LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey described the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, he categorized it as busy before quickly correcting himself with a smile and calling it just a normal day at the annual four-day event.The Twins mostly met with
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- As Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey described the first day of the Winter Meetings on Monday, he categorized it as busy before quickly correcting himself with a smile and calling it just a normal day at the annual four-day event.
The Twins mostly met with agents on Monday, and a few clubs as well, as they try to acquire pitching help for both the rotation and bullpen. Minnesota remains interested in the top tier of starting pitchers, including Yu Darvish, Jacob Arrieta, Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb, but the Twins have checked in with almost every pitcher available.
"If there's a free-agent pitcher on the list right now, we've had at least one conversation and probably multiple," Falvey said. "We anticipate we'll continue to do that."
One player they've monitored recently is former Twins closer Brandon Kintzler, who was traded to the Nationals at the Trade Deadline and is currently a free agent. A reunion would make sense, as Kintzler enjoyed his time in Minnesota and was universally liked in the clubhouse. The 33-year-old Las Vegas native also likely wouldn't command a huge deal, given his below-average strikeout rate.
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With Matt Belisle also a free agent, the Twins don't have a closer, and general manager Thad Levine said the team would prefer to have a veteran in that role. They have young arms they like, such as Trevor Hildenberger, Alan Busenitz, Gabriel Moya and John Curtiss, as well as Thomas Pressly and Taylor Rogers, but they'd rather have them in setup roles to open the year.
"We're open-minded we may have our future closer on our current roster, but do we want to thrust that person into that role come Opening Day? Ideally, probably not," Levine said. "But if someone by the end of the year becomes our closer, we're very open-minded [about] that. But we'd prefer not to force that early in the season."
Relief help is certainly a priority for the Twins, but finding a front-line starter remains the ultimate goal. It's been a slow-moving market to this point, however, as Tyler Chatwood and Miles Mikolas are the only two starters to sign multiyear deals so far this offseason. Chatwood received three years and $38 million from the Cubs, while Mikolas, coming over from Japan, signed a two-year deal with the Cardinals worth $15.5 million.
Levine, though, said the market usually starts to pick up during the Winter Meetings and in the time leading up the holidays.
"It feels like to me there are distinct tiers to this market," Levine said. "I don't think one domino will start to make everything cascade. I think it'll be in tiers. But there's been a paucity of movement. We haven't seen much decongest from the top tier, the second tier or the middle tier yet. But I think the window between the Winter Meetings and the holidays, there's more movement. Teams want to have their most pressing holes filled. Players and their families want to know where to look for housing and where they'll be for Spring Training."
Of course, the Twins could also go the trade route to acquire pitching, but it appears they're reluctant to give up top prospects, as they're mindful of the future despite making their surprise run to the Wild Card Game last year. The Twins are listening to offers, but they don't seem to be the aggressors on the trade market.
"No one likes to trade away their young players and talent that could impact you at the Major League level," Falvey said. "But we feel like we have a better handle on what the system has, and would be ready if the opportunity presents itself to make a deal that would help our Major League team. We haven't had that, but we'd be nimble and flexible if someone comes to us."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.