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Inbox: Will Twins add another starter or two?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers fans' questions
February 8, 2018

MINNEAPOLIS -- Spring Training is almost here for the Twins, as pitchers and catchers are set to report to the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday.It's been an interesting offseason throughout Major League Baseball, as plenty of top players remain unsigned. The Twins have indicated they're

MINNEAPOLIS -- Spring Training is almost here for the Twins, as pitchers and catchers are set to report to the club's Spring Training complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Tuesday.
It's been an interesting offseason throughout Major League Baseball, as plenty of top players remain unsigned. The Twins have indicated they're still looking to add a starter, and possibly two, despite it being so late in the offseason. It brings us to our first question of this week's Twins Inbox:

It is pretty amazing that Twins pitchers and catchers report on Tuesday, and yet there has been little movement among the starting pitching market. The Twins, though, still remain highly likely to sign a starter, especially now that Ervin Santana will be out until possibly May after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger. Their top target, Yu Darvish, reportedly signed with the Cubs to bring that particular offseason pursuit to an end, but there are plenty of other options available.
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It's hard to predict who they'll sign, but they still have interest in top starters available that have been mentioned all offseason such as Lance Lynn and Alex Cobb. They also could add depth by signing a second starter, as they've been linked to back-of-the-rotation options such as Chris Tillman and Jaime Garcia.

Mitch Garver is the heavy favorite to be the backup catcher after his strong season last year, especially offensively at Triple-A Rochester. Pitchers who came up in the Minors with him say he's made major strides defensively and is ready to stick in the big leagues. He'll compete with non-roster invites such as Bobby Wilson and Willians Astudillo.

There's nothing new with MLB's investigation into Miguel Sano's alleged sexual assault, and there isn't a firm timeline, either. As for his surgically repaired shin, Sano has been working out in Fort Myers, and he's likely to meet with the media next week for an update. He's expected to be ready for the start of the season but not the start of Spring Training games.

Kennys Vargas still has a lot to prove, and heads to camp competing for a spot at designated hitter and as Joe Mauer's backup at first. Vargas is out of options, and this is likely his last chance to prove he can stick in the Majors. He has immense power but has yet to show he can be a consistent offensive performer at the Major League level. It's likely he makes the team to give him that one last shot, as he could share DH duties with Robbie Grossman, and having someone to spell Mauer at first makes sense, although they could just move Sano to first on days when Mauer isn't manning the position.

Byron Buxton is just fine after crashing into the wall in October, despite a false report that he sustained a cracked rib, but the club announced it wasn't true. He did suffer soreness, but it went away during the offseason. Buxton, though, needs to be more careful going forward, as he's a bit reckless near the wall and the Twins can't afford to lose him due to injury.

The Twins do have several pitching prospects they like, such as Stephen Gonsalves, Fernando Romero, Felix Jorge, Zack Littell and Aaron Slegers, and given their lack of veteran rotation depth, a few are expected to contribute this year. Slegers has a leg up because he made his Major League debut last year, while Gonsalves and Romero are considered close. Romero also could be broken in as a reliever in the Majors given his plus stuff, so it's something to monitor later this season.

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