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Twins launch Winter Caravan on 2 routes

Annual trek opens with radio-station stops, ice fishing
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' annual Winter Caravan officially started Monday, with two legs departing from Target Field to open the two-week event that features stops in more than 40 communities throughout the Upper Midwest.

Both legs opened with stops at radio stations, with the first group featuring outfielder Robbie Grossman, shortstop Jorge Polanco and broadcaster Cory Provus visiting the La Raza Spanish-language station in Minneapolis. The second leg, featuring manager Paul Molitor, reliever Alan Busenitz, infielder Eduardo Escobar and former Twins players Dan Gladden and Jack Morris, stopped by WCCO, which is the new radio home of the Twins.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins' annual Winter Caravan officially started Monday, with two legs departing from Target Field to open the two-week event that features stops in more than 40 communities throughout the Upper Midwest.

Both legs opened with stops at radio stations, with the first group featuring outfielder Robbie Grossman, shortstop Jorge Polanco and broadcaster Cory Provus visiting the La Raza Spanish-language station in Minneapolis. The second leg, featuring manager Paul Molitor, reliever Alan Busenitz, infielder Eduardo Escobar and former Twins players Dan Gladden and Jack Morris, stopped by WCCO, which is the new radio home of the Twins.

Tweet from @MNCommunityGuy: The @twins caravan is ready to roll in style. #twinswintercaravan pic.twitter.com/AHxNxbvDwu

Much of the discussion centered on Minnesota's offseason so far, with the additions to the bullpen, as well as the expectations for next season after reaching the American League Wild Card Game last year. And of course, there was plenty of talk about the Vikings' incredible "walk-off" win on Sunday, especially from Molitor and Morris, two St. Paul natives.

"I think everyone is excited about getting back to work," Molitor said on the air with WCCO's Dave Lee. "February is coming up quickly. We've made some nice additions to our bullpen. We'll see what other additions we can make before we get to Spring Training. But the big thing is you don't rest on your laurels."

As Molitor noted, the Twins aren't done this offseason, as they're still looking to add a top free-agent starter, such as Yu Darvish, Jake Arrieta, Lance Lynn or Alex Cobb. It's sure to be a topic of conversation among fans at stops throughout the caravan.

"I just think they have the right pieces in place," Gladden said on WCCO. "You're always looking for another piece, and I think the Twins are looking for a front-line starter. But I thought the bullpen pitched well with the young guys. There's a lot of upside. I'm looking forward to it."

After the radio stations, both legs headed south for an ice-fishing tournament at Madison Lake in Mankato, Minn. Busenitz, a Georgia native, had never been on a frozen lake before Monday.

Tweet from @Twins: When it���s your first time on a frozen lake... 😁������ How was it @abooze32? #TwinsWinterCaravan pic.twitter.com/bBiM4FUqW6

The first leg went from the ice-fishing tournament to New Ulm, Minn., while the second route stayed in Mankato for the night event at Kato Ballroom. The first route has stops in Windom, Minn., Worthington, Minn., and Spencer, Iowa, on Tuesday before heading to Iowa Falls, Iowa, and Mason City, Iowa, on Wednesday and Owatonna, Minn., Northfield, Minn., and Treasure Island Casino on Thursday.

The second route heads to Albert Lea, Minn., and Rochester, Minn., on Tuesday, with events in Preston, Minn., and Winona, Minn., on Wednesday and stops in Wabasha, Minn., Eau Claire, Wisc., and Menomonie, Wisc., on Thursday.

Tweet from @Twins: First time on a frozen lake for these warm climate natives! ������ #TwinsWinterCaravan pic.twitter.com/eVexJtTwQy

In addition, center fielder Byron Buxton will attend Camp Ripley to meet with members of the National Guard on Friday, while Zack Granite and Mitch Garver will attend the annual Class A Cedar Rapids banquet in Iowa on Wednesday. It all leads up to TwinsFest this weekend and the second week of caravan, which begins on Jan. 22.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins

Twins sign reliever Reed to 2-year contract

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins signed reliever Addison Reed to a two-year deal worth $16.75 million, the team announced on Monday.

The move comes as a surprise, as the Twins had already signed Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke to one-year deals to fortify the bullpen this offseason. But Reed has a strong track record, coming off a solid season that saw him post a 2.84 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 15 walks in 76 innings with the Mets and Red Sox.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins signed reliever Addison Reed to a two-year deal worth $16.75 million, the team announced on Monday.

The move comes as a surprise, as the Twins had already signed Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke to one-year deals to fortify the bullpen this offseason. But Reed has a strong track record, coming off a solid season that saw him post a 2.84 ERA with 76 strikeouts and 15 walks in 76 innings with the Mets and Red Sox.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins designated left-handed pitcher Buddy Boshers for release or assignment.

Reed, 29, has closing experience with the White Sox, D-backs and Mets, totaling 125 career saves, but he is expected to be the club's top setup man to Rodney, who was told by the front office that he'll open the season as the closer. Reed joins sidearmer Trevor Hildenberger and lefty Taylor Rogers as primary relievers along with Duke.

Reed has a career 3.40 ERA with 425 strikeouts and 104 walks in 402 2/3 innings across seven big league seasons. He's worked to cut his walk rate the past two seasons after struggling with control early in his career.

Reed relies heavily on his slider, throwing it nearly a third of the time, while also leaning heavily on a fastball that averages 92.3 mph. His ability to generate strikeouts is a boost to a bullpen that struck out the fifth-fewest batters in baseball this past season.

The signing of Reed doesn't preclude the Twins from signing a frontline starter, which remains their top priority this offseason. It's been a slow-moving market for starters, but Minnesota still has interest in the top arms available, like Yu Darvish, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn and Jake Arrieta.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Addison Reed

Escobar among 5 Twins to avoid arbitration

Pressly, Adrianza, May, Grossman also agree; Gibson may be headed to hearing
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- After avoiding arbitration with infielder Eduardo Escobar on a one-year, $4.85 million contract on Thursday night, the Twins avoided arbitration with four players before Friday's 12 p.m. CT deadline. Minnesota settled one-year deals with right-hander Ryan Pressly for $1.6 million, shortstop Ehire Adrianza for $1 million, right-hander Trevor May for $650,000 and outfielder Robbie Grossman for $2 million.

Minnesota exchanged figures with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is the lone Twins player yet to avoid arbitration and could be headed to a hearing.

MINNEAPOLIS -- After avoiding arbitration with infielder Eduardo Escobar on a one-year, $4.85 million contract on Thursday night, the Twins avoided arbitration with four players before Friday's 12 p.m. CT deadline. Minnesota settled one-year deals with right-hander Ryan Pressly for $1.6 million, shortstop Ehire Adrianza for $1 million, right-hander Trevor May for $650,000 and outfielder Robbie Grossman for $2 million.

Minnesota exchanged figures with right-hander Kyle Gibson, who is the lone Twins player yet to avoid arbitration and could be headed to a hearing.

Pressly, 29, was in his second year of arbitration eligibility, and he gets a slight salary increase from the $1.175 million he earned in his first year. Adrianza, May and Grossman, all 28, were in their first year of eligibility.

Video: MIN@TB: Adrianza cranks a three-run homer in the 2nd

Pressly had a 4.70 ERA in 57 relief appearances for the Twins last season, with 61 strikeouts in 61 1/3 innings. Adrianza played in 70 games, and he hit .265 with a pair of home runs, 24 RBIs and eight stolen bases. May is recovering from Tommy John surgery, so he did not pitch in 2017. Grossman hit .246/.361/.380 with nine homers and 45 RBIs in 119 games while serving mostly as designated hitter.

Escobar, who made $2.6 million last season, is coming off a breakout campaign in which he hit .254/.309/.449 with 21 homers and 16 doubles in 129 games. The 29-year-old Venezuelan also had an impressive stint at third base in Miguel Sano's absence late in the year.

Arbitration-eligible players and their teams must exchange proposed salary figures for 2018 by Friday's deadline. The Twins have still worked out deals after exchanging figures in the past, and they haven't been to a hearing since 2006 with Kyle Lohse. But there remains a chance they go to a hearing with Gibson, who made $2.9 million last season in his first year of arbitration.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Ehire Adrianza, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Trevor May, Ryan Pressly

Morneau reunites with Twins as special assistant

Former AL MVP hanging up spikes after 14 MLB seasons
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former American League MVP Award winner Justin Morneau is set to officially retire at a news conference at Target Field on Wednesday and join the Twins as a special assistant.

Morneau, a four-time All-Star who played 11 seasons with the Twins, will join a front office that includes former Twins players Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins. Morneau already joined the Twins last week at their annual organizational meetings in Fort Myers, Fla. He'll be joined at Wednesday's news conference by Twins president Dave St. Peter and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Former American League MVP Award winner Justin Morneau is set to officially retire at a news conference at Target Field on Wednesday and join the Twins as a special assistant.

Morneau, a four-time All-Star who played 11 seasons with the Twins, will join a front office that includes former Twins players Michael Cuddyer, Torii Hunter and LaTroy Hawkins. Morneau already joined the Twins last week at their annual organizational meetings in Fort Myers, Fla. He'll be joined at Wednesday's news conference by Twins president Dave St. Peter and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey.

Morneau, 36, finished his 14-year career with 1,603 hits and 247 home runs, holding a .281/.348/.481 slash line. In addition to his four All-Star selections and his 2006 AL MVP Award with the Twins, he won the NL batting title in '14 with the Rockies.

Video: Enjoy highlights of Morneau's greatest hits

The last appearance of Morneau's playing career turned out to be with Team Canada in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. He remained a free agent for the duration of the '17 season, and he will now join the front office of the organization with which he spent the first decade of his career.

It's likely that Morneau will also serve as a Spring Training instructor like Cuddyer, Hunter and Hawkins. Morneau, who was a clubhouse leader throughout his Major League career, can help serve as a mentor for the club's younger players while also dispensing advice on hitting and defense at first base.

Morneau is essentially a lock to join the Twins' Hall of Fame, and finished his 14-year career hitting .281/.348/.481 with 247 homers and 985 RBIs in 1,545 games with the Twins, Pirates, Rockies and White Sox. He dealt with injuries late in his career, including a concussion suffered in 2009 that caused him to miss the rest of the season, with symptoms lingering for the next two years.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Justin Morneau

Twins prospect Gordon launches rap album

Nick Gordon proved he can do it all. The infielder in the Twins organization is not only a rising prospect on the ball field, but the younger brother of Dee Gordon is making a name for himself in the music industry as well

Gordon, 22, just launched his appropriately-titled album "I Do It All," and it's available "everywhere" as he indicated on his Instagram account. He also wants those who are indulging in his music to send him videos "jamming to it."

Prospect Gonsalves working diligently on slider

Left-hander participates in MLB's Rookie Career Development Program
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves is on the cusp of reaching the Majors after putting up impressive numbers in the Minors since being drafted in 2013, and he participated in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.

Gonsalves, ranked as the No. 64 overall prospect and the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was joined by fellow Twins prospects Fernando Romero, John Curtiss and LaMonte Wade at the event, which provides helpful seminars for prospective big leaguers.

MINNEAPOLIS -- Twins top pitching prospect Stephen Gonsalves is on the cusp of reaching the Majors after putting up impressive numbers in the Minors since being drafted in 2013, and he participated in Major League Baseball's Rookie Career Development Program last week.

Gonsalves, ranked as the No. 64 overall prospect and the club's No. 3 prospect by MLB Pipeline, was joined by fellow Twins prospects Fernando Romero, John Curtiss and LaMonte Wade at the event, which provides helpful seminars for prospective big leaguers.

Gonsalves, one of 20 prospects from MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list at the event, is considered close to the Majors, and the lefty will head to Spring Training with a chance to compete for a spot in the rotation.

"You just have to take it one step at a time and know it's a learning process," Gonsalves said. "You have to trust the club and the future they have in mind for you."

Video: Top Prospects: Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Twins

Gonsalves, 23, reached Triple-A for the first time last year, posting a combined 3.27 ERA with 118 strikeouts in 110 innings between Double-A Chattanooga and Rochester. He's likely to open the year at Triple-A again, but he said he learned a lot last season.

"It was fun," Gonsalves said. "Got to work with all the guys I've been with the last couple years. A lot of the same guys from my Draft class. I had Mitch Garver back there [at catcher], and he got to the big leagues in September. It was kinda nice he got there before me, and he can teach what it's like up there."

Gonsalves, who is 41-17 with a 2.39 ERA in 478 1/3 innings in the Minors, has a fastball that sits in the low 90s, but he fools batters with his impressive changeup. He's still working on his slider and curveball, which he believes will be important at the next level.

"I just need to be a little more consistent," Gonsalves said. "I've been working on my slider a little bit. That's going to be huge for me, hopefully. Just staying with that curveball and trusting it. Big leaguers need four pitches to have a long career."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Stephen Gonsalves

Berrios preparing for 2018 by pushing trucks

The 2017 offseason has brought us all manner of outlandish workouts. Luis Valbuena is busy banging a tire with a sledgehammer. Chris Archer somehow managed to get out of bed at 5:30 in the morning. Giancarlo Stanton is, well, doing Giancarlo Stanton things.

Only Twins starter Jose Berrios, however, managed to move an actual pickup truck (in a pair of shorts that we can only describe as Chuckie Finster Couture).

Yu said it: Twins among finalists for Darvish

GM Levine discusses pursuit of free-agent ace, slow-moving market
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are one of six finalists for free agent Yu Darvish, the right-hander confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday night.

Darvish responded to a tweet that said the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Astros and Twins are finalists, saying he knows "one more team is in." Minnesota general manager Thad Levine, who has a strong relationship with Darvish because of their time together with the Rangers, said on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursday that he was happy to see the Twins still in the race for Darvish, who is the top starting pitcher on the market.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are one of six finalists for free agent Yu Darvish, the right-hander confirmed via Twitter on Wednesday night.

Darvish responded to a tweet that said the Rangers, Yankees, Cubs, Astros and Twins are finalists, saying he knows "one more team is in." Minnesota general manager Thad Levine, who has a strong relationship with Darvish because of their time together with the Rangers, said on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio on Thursday that he was happy to see the Twins still in the race for Darvish, who is the top starting pitcher on the market.

Hot Stove Tracker

"It's fascinating when you see players announce their own markets," Levine said. "The beat writer that is now Yu Darvish is making announcements. However this plays out, it's exciting to see players of his caliber now considering Minnesota as a destination at this time."

Levine has said that signing Darvish is a priority this offseason, and Levine was assistant general manager in Texas when Darvish signed with the Rangers before the 2012 season. The Twins have yet to have a formal meeting with Darvish, but given Levine's relationship with him and his agency, the Twins don't believe it to be an issue.

Video: Rosenthal discusses Rangers' interest in Darvish

Darvish, 31, is the type of frontline starter the Twins are looking for to join Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios atop the rotation, as he has a career 3.42 ERA with 1,021 strikeouts in 832 1/3 innings. Darvish posted a 3.86 ERA with 209 strikeouts in 186 2/3 innings with the Rangers and Dodgers last year. The Twins haven't had a pitcher reach 200 strikeouts since 2010 (Francisco Liriano).

But it's been a slow-moving market this offseason, and there are no indications that Darvish is close to signing. Levine said he's heard plenty of theories about the relative inaction on the free-agent market and said it could lead to shorter deals for free agents as it gets closer to Spring Training.

"I don't know that anyone has the answer to that," Levine said. "I do think clubs are starting to be a little more calculated and clinical with their evaluations. There have been extensive studies on contracts for starting pitchers, in particular. As Darvish has documented and the industry has as well, there may be six teams in on him. I still think the top end of the market will be handsomely rewarded. I wonder if we'll see shorter contracts but with higher annual values than we've seen in the past."

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Yu Darvish

Twins, Tribe excited to take part in PR series

Members of both organizations join San Juan mayor at news conference
MLB.com @MLBastian

CLEVELAND -- Puerto Rico is still in a state of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and baseball will be a part of the island's healing process.

On Wednesday, members of the Indians and Twins, joined by San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, held a news conference in the commonwealth's capital city to announce details of the April 17-18 series between the teams at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The games, which will be the first MLB regular-season contests in Puerto Rico since 2010, are scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

CLEVELAND -- Puerto Rico is still in a state of recovery in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, and baseball will be a part of the island's healing process.

On Wednesday, members of the Indians and Twins, joined by San Juan mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz, held a news conference in the commonwealth's capital city to announce details of the April 17-18 series between the teams at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. The games, which will be the first MLB regular-season contests in Puerto Rico since 2010, are scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

Paul Dolan, chairman and CEO of the Indians, was in attendance in San Juan, along with Indians catcher and Puerto Rico native Roberto Perez and former Tribe great Carlos Baerga. Minnesota players Jose Berrios, Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas also took the stage Wednesday, alongside Dave St. Peter, the president and CEO of the Twins. Indians shortstop Francisco Lindor and first-base coach Sandy Alomar Jr. also hail from Puerto Rico.

Tweet from @MBSportsTvNews: ���The Minnesota @Twins organization is honored to be part of the 2018 Puerto Rico Series,��� Twins President & CEO Dave St. Peter said. ���We are excited to visit San Juan and surrounding communities while celebrating our game as well as its heritage and future in Puerto Rico.���

Prep continues for Tribe-Twins series in PR

"We're delighted to be a part of the messaging to the world that San Juan is open and ready for business," Dolan said. "We're thrilled to be part of this."

Video: Indians, Twins to play in Puerto Rico in 2018

Information on purchasing tickets, which are expected to go on sale Saturday, was not immediately available.

Major League Baseball announced a $1 million contribution to assist communities impacted by Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the earthquake in Mexico. MLB's contribution is being directed to immediate relief and long-term rebuilding efforts through a variety of organizations, including Habitat for Humanity, Project C.U.R.E., The U.S. Fund for UNICEF and more nonprofits to be named later.

Video: St. Peter excited for Twins-Indians series in P.R.

Additionally, MLB will fund travel for physicians and other medical personnel as part of a special effort to provide direct medical assistance to affected communities.

When Maria -- classified as a Category 5 hurricane -- made landfall Sept. 20, Perez and Lindor were with the Indians in Anaheim for a series against the Angels. They lost communication with members of their respective families for multiple days, and felt relief to later learn of their safety. The home of Perez's mother was severely damaged in the violent storm, and the catcher made several trips to Puerto Rico this winter to visit family and help with their recovery.

Video: Roberto Perez reflects on hurricane recovery so far

Perez expressed excitement about the series against the Twins in April, and having the opportunity to provide the people of Puerto Rico with a welcomed distraction.

"It's a blessing to be here and playing in front of our family and in front of our fans and the people of Puerto Rico," Perez said at the news conference. "Puerto Rico is going through a lot. There's people with no power, no water, everything. But, we're here. These two games, it's very special. It's going to mean a lot to everybody here in Puerto Rico. Hopefully, we bring a lot of excitement and hopefully you guys enjoy it. I think we can't wait.

Tweet from @MLBastian: Roberto Perez's mom "did everything" for him growing up. Now, as he heads home to Puerto Rico for the holidays, he plans on being there for her in a big way: https://t.co/GXUJFen08Q via @MLB

"When [it] was during the season last year and Puerto Rico got hit by the hurricane, I was already thinking about next year. Now that it's going to happen, I think we're very blessed and hopefully we bring what you guys need, a lot of joy."

Perez and Lindor were a part of the Puerto Rican team that finished as the runner-up in the World Baseball Classic last spring. In early December, they also participated in a charity event hosted by Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. There was a celebrity softball game and a home run derby with more than 20,000 fans in attendance, and more than $200,000 raised for hurricane relief.

Tweet from @morsecode: ���It���s not just a dream for us to play here in Puerto Rico, it���s an opportunity for us to bring a smile to the people of Puerto Rico.���-Kennys Vargas pic.twitter.com/45agaWL3WI

Last week, the Puerto Rican Winter League opened with an abbreviated schedule, which will have games at Hiram Bithorn Stadium in San Juan and Isidoro Garcia Stadium in Mayaguez, where Perez was raised. Other stadiums around the island are unable to host games yet due to damage. The games that are scheduled will be played in the afternoon due to continued power issues.

Cruz said at the news conference that Hiram Bithorn Stadium, which is still undergoing repairs amidst the winter league games, is expected to be ready by the end of March to host the Major League teams. MLB recently had officials tour the facilities, and is also working with the MLB Players' Association to explore possible community outreach events around the series in April.

"I want to thank both of you," Cruz said at the conference, "the Minnesota Twins and the Cleveland Indians -- I love that movie, 'Major League' -- because you have shown an enormous commitment to Puerto Rico."

Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook, and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Cleveland Indians, Jose Berrios, Francisco Lindor, Roberto Perez, Eddie Rosario, Kennys Vargas

Levine: Twins hope to have Sano news by ST

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are hopeful that an MLB review of allegations against Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will be resolved by Spring Training, general manager Thad Levine said on Thursday on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio.

"Right now, Major League Baseball is conducting its investigation," Levine said, "... we're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are hopeful that an MLB review of allegations against Twins third baseman Miguel Sano will be resolved by Spring Training, general manager Thad Levine said on Thursday on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio.

"Right now, Major League Baseball is conducting its investigation," Levine said, "... we're hopeful we'll have information back in a timely fashion."

Sano, 24, was accused by local photographer Betsy Bissen of sexual assault on Dec. 28 in a statement she posted on Twitter. Sano denied the allegations through a statement made shortly thereafter. Bissen, who has declined interview requests, alleges that the incident occurred at a mall following an autograph signing in 2015.

An MLB spokesperson told the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the league's investigation into Sano began that day. The story also stated, citing a person with direct knowledge, that MLB made it clear to the parties involved that "there is not a firm timeline" and it will take "as long as a thorough investigation requires."

"Miguel is complying with everything Major League Baseball is pursuing," Levine said. "He's desirous of clearing his name as soon as possible. We're going to let that process unfold and hear from Major League Baseball, ideally before Spring Training so we have a full understanding."

MLB, along with the players' union, has a policy on domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse that began in 2015. Commissioner Rob Manfred has the discretion to fine or suspend players who violate the policy.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Miguel Sano

Rodney's presence revamps Twins' 'pen

Veteran closer, Duke to lead young relief corps in 2018
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are looking to blend veteran arms with youth as they attempt to improve their bullpen in 2018.

The Twins signed veteran closer Fernando Rodney and veteran lefty Zach Duke to one-year deals this offseason in order to fortify a bullpen that saw several youngsters -- like right-handers Trevor Hildenberger and Alan Busenitz -- emerge last year. Left-hander Taylor Rogers has developed into a steady setup reliever, while the Twins are hoping for bounceback seasons from Ryan Pressly and Tyler Duffey.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins are looking to blend veteran arms with youth as they attempt to improve their bullpen in 2018.

The Twins signed veteran closer Fernando Rodney and veteran lefty Zach Duke to one-year deals this offseason in order to fortify a bullpen that saw several youngsters -- like right-handers Trevor Hildenberger and Alan Busenitz -- emerge last year. Left-hander Taylor Rogers has developed into a steady setup reliever, while the Twins are hoping for bounceback seasons from Ryan Pressly and Tyler Duffey.

Other young arms like John Curtiss, Gabriel Moya and J.T. Chargois could contribute in 2018, while Tyler Kinley was taken in the Rule 5 Draft and will compete for a spot in Spring Training.

2018 previews: Lineup | Rotation

The bullpen is likely to change throughout the season and there's still a chance the Twins could acquire another reliever. In the meantime, MLB.com is taking a look at the projected bullpen of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how the Twins might stack up:

BULLPEN IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Fernando Rodney (closer)
Trevor Hildenberger, RHP
Taylor Rogers, LHP
Zach Duke, LHP
Alan Busenitz, RHP
Tyler Duffey, RHP
Ryan Pressly, RHP

Video: Twins, reliever Duke come to terms on one-year deal

STRENGTH
It isn't always pretty, but Rodney has been an effective closer for the past decade, recording 300 saves, including 39 with the D-backs last season. He still has strikeout stuff, as evidenced by his 65 punchouts in 55 1/3 innings. Duke has a 2.85 ERA with 220 strikeouts over 198 2/3 innings over his past four seasons, but he returned from Tommy John surgery last July. Hildenberger and Busenitz both had impressive rookie seasons, and the side-arming Hildenberger has the look of a future closer. The Twins also have several top relief prospects, such as Tyler Jay, Jake Reed, Moya and Curtiss. Right-hander Trevor May is coming off Tommy John surgery, and while he'll be stretched out to start, he could return to the bullpen, where he had success before the injury.

Video: TOR@MIN: Hildenberger K's Morales to strand pair

QUESTION MARK
Twins relievers combined to record the fifth-fewest strikeouts in the Majors last season, and while that total should improve, they still don't have an elite bullpen that can rack up strikeouts. Rodney is 40 years old, while Duke is 34 and looking to regain his command another year removed from surgery. There will be plenty of competition for the final few spots in the bullpen, and the Twins could also opt to carry eight relievers like they did for much of last season. Kinley is a wild card as a Rule 5 Draft pick, and the Twins must keep him on the roster the entire season or offer him back to his original club. Right-hander Justin Haley made the club as a Rule 5 reliever last year, but he was returned to the Red Sox in July.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
After signing Rodney and Duke, the Twins aren't likely to make a splash with another reliever, although they could opt to bring back veteran Matt Belisle, who capably served as closer in the second half after Brandon Kintzler was traded. It'll be different without three-time All-Star Glen Perkins, as he's still a free agent and would only be brought back on a Minor League deal.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins

Santana, Berrios anchor Twins' current rotation

Minnesota hoping to sign front-line starter this offseason
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- After Twins starters combined to post the worst ERA in the Majors in 2016, the rotation was better last year, finishing 19th with a 4.73 ERA, which was enough of an improvement to help the Twins reach the American League Wild Card Game.

But rotation depth remains an issue, and a stellar defense helped fuel that turnaround, as Twins starters recorded the fifth-fewest strikeouts in the Majors. It's a major reason why Minnesota is serious about acquiring a front-line starter this offseason with interest in free agents such as Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta.

MINNEAPOLIS -- After Twins starters combined to post the worst ERA in the Majors in 2016, the rotation was better last year, finishing 19th with a 4.73 ERA, which was enough of an improvement to help the Twins reach the American League Wild Card Game.

But rotation depth remains an issue, and a stellar defense helped fuel that turnaround, as Twins starters recorded the fifth-fewest strikeouts in the Majors. It's a major reason why Minnesota is serious about acquiring a front-line starter this offseason with interest in free agents such as Yu Darvish, Lance Lynn, Alex Cobb and Jake Arrieta.

The Twins remain highly likely to add another starting pitcher before Spring Training. MLB.com is taking a look at the projected rotation of all 30 teams ahead of Spring Training. Here's how Minnesota might stack up:

ROTATION IF SEASON STARTED TODAY
Ervin Santana
Jose Berrios
Kyle Gibson
Adalberto Mejia
Phil Hughes

STRENGTH
Santana and Berrios are the anchors of the staff, as Santana is coming off an All-Star season that saw him post a 3.28 ERA in 33 starts, while Berrios had a breakout year with a 3.89 ERA and 139 strikeouts in 145 2/3 innings. Gibson was solid in the second half with a 3.76 ERA and 70 strikeouts in 76 2/3 innings. Mejia showed some promise as a rookie and is one of several young arms for the Twins, such as prospects Stephen Gonsalves or Fernando Romero.

Video: Gonsalves on the Rookie Career Development Program

QUESTION MARK
Gibson needs to put it together for a full season, and Mejia has to become more consistent and go deeper into games. Hughes is coming off a second surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome, so it's hard to know what to expect for him, although the Twins say his rehab has been coming along well this offseason. Gonsalves and Romero will both be in the mix in Spring Training, while Trevor May is coming off Tommy John surgery and will be stretched out to start.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE
The top priority for the Twins this offseason remains adding a quality starting pitcher, and it would be a surprise if they opened Spring Training with their current rotation.

Video: Twins may look to Lynn, Cobb as Darvish backup plan

Darvish is their top target, but the market has been slow-moving this offseason without any of the top starters signing yet. Twins general manager Thad Levine has a strong relationship with Darvish from their time together with the Rangers, which could prove to be a selling point for the Twins. Otherwise, the Twins are interested in Lynn, Cobb and to a lesser degree Arrieta, although all three come with Draft-pick compensation after being extended the qualifying offer.

Of course, the Twins could also go the trade route, but they appear more likely to hang onto their prospects and spend in free agency, as they have the budget with only two players signed beyond 2018.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Adalberto Mejia, Ervin Santana

Power-speed mix figures to serve Twins well

MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a young core of position players and an offense that finished seventh in the Majors in runs scored in 2017, the Twins likely won't look much different offensively or defensively in '18.

Among the 14 Twins players who had at least 100 plate appearances last year, only catcher Chris Gimenez is no longer on the roster, and there's a chance he could return on a Minor League deal.

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a young core of position players and an offense that finished seventh in the Majors in runs scored in 2017, the Twins likely won't look much different offensively or defensively in '18.

Among the 14 Twins players who had at least 100 plate appearances last year, only catcher Chris Gimenez is no longer on the roster, and there's a chance he could return on a Minor League deal.

How the offense fares this season depends on how youngsters such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario continue to develop, while they'll count on veterans such as Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Jason Castro. The Twins are likely to have a revolving door at designated hitter that's set to include Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Kennys Vargas, Sano and Mauer.

Of course, there's still roughly a month until Spring Training, so things can change. But if the season started today, here's a look at what the lineup could look like:

LINEUP IF SEASON STARTED TODAY

Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Miguel Sano, 3B
Eddie Rosario, LF
Byron Buxton, CF
Jorge Polanco, SS
Max Kepler, RF
Eduardo Escobar, DH
Jason Castro, C

STRENGTH

The strength of the lineup is the balance the Twins have, as their .434 slugging percentage ranked tied for 11th in the Majors, while they also ranked ninth with 95 stolen bases. They have a blend of power and speed to go along with a patient offense that ranked tied for sixth in on-base percentage. The depth of the offense showed itself when it didn't fall off late in the year despite losing Sano to a shin injury, with Escobar helping to pick up the slack. There's also plenty of upside in the lineup, as Buxton, Rosario and Polanco had breakout second halves, while Kepler has shown promise and Sano was an All-Star for the first time before his injury.

QUESTION MARK

The Twins don't have a set DH, as they used Grossman the most in that role last year. And while he has strong on-base skills, Grossman doesn't have the power that's traditionally associated with the position. Escobar played so well in Sano's absence he could see more playing time at DH this season, while Vargas is out of Minor League options. Vargas, a switch-hitter, fits the profile as a slugging DH, but hasn't been consistent enough at the Major League level. The Twins also don't receive much offense from Castro at catcher, but they're hopeful prospect Mitch Garver becomes a capable backup catcher with power.

WHAT MIGHT CHANGE

The Twins could look to find a full-time DH and have been linked to veteran slugger Mike Napoli. Minnesota could use some more right-handed power to join Sano and Dozier, as their lineup has several left-handers such as Mauer, Rosario, Kepler and Castro as well as switch-hitters such as Polanco, Escobar, Grossman and Vargas. But it could be tough finding full-time at-bats for a player such as Napoli, as the Twins like to rotate their players at DH. The Twins were smart with Mauer's playing time last year, helping him to his best season since his concussion in 2013, while Sano is coming off surgery to insert a titanium rod into his shin. So while Napoli's power would help the lineup, it would also hurt their flexibility.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins

Twins sign outfielder Buss to Minors contract

Left-handed hitter won PCL batting title last season
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins continued to add depth via Minor League signings this offseason, signing outfielder Nick Buss to a Minor League contract on Friday.

The lefty-hitting Buss, who won the Pacific Coast League batting title last season with Triple-A El Paso, has limited Major League experience and is likely to open the year with Triple-A Rochester.

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins continued to add depth via Minor League signings this offseason, signing outfielder Nick Buss to a Minor League contract on Friday.

The lefty-hitting Buss, who won the Pacific Coast League batting title last season with Triple-A El Paso, has limited Major League experience and is likely to open the year with Triple-A Rochester.

Buss, 31, hit .348/.395/.541 with 11 homers, 19 doubles and eight triples in 114 games with the Padres' top Minor League affiliate in 2017. He saw action defensively in left field, right field and at first base.

Buss, originally selected by the Dodgers in the eighth round of the 2008 Draft from USC, is a career .294/.349/.440 hitter in 1,079 Minor League games. He played eight games for the Dodgers in '13 and 36 games for the Angels in '16, hitting .180/.229/.300 with a homer, a triple and eight RBIs in the Majors.

Other Minor League signings by the Twins this offseason include infielders Leonardo Reginatto, Brock Stassi, Gregorio Petit and Taylor Featherston, outfielders James Ramsey and Ryan LaMarre, catchers Wynston Sawyer, Bobby Wilson and Willians Astudillo and right-hander Myles Jaye.

Hot Stove Tracker

The Twins will announce their non-roster invites to Major League Spring Training at a later date.

Worth noting

• The Twins announced plans to host nine free youth baseball clinics at various locations throughout Fort Myers, Fla. The clinics are open to children ages 5-13 and will be held on Jan. 20, Jan. 27, Feb. 3 and Feb. 19. Additionally, the Twins will host a coaches clinic on Jan. 13 at the Minnesota Twins Players Academy.

• The Twins hired Frank Jagoda as their rehab pitching coach at Class A Advanced Fort Myers, and he also will assist in the Gulf Coast League. He was previously the head coach at Patrick Henry Community College in Martinsville, Va.

• Travis Koon was hired as the strength coach for Rookie-level Elizabethton. The Oregon State graduate is completing an internship at Cressey Sports Performance and has experience with the Beavers baseball team.

• Ben Myers was also hired at Elizabethton as an athletic trainer. He worked in the Astros' organization for three years.

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

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Minnesota Twins, Nick Buss