MINNEAPOLIS -- Things are heating up for the Twins ahead of the Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday in Las Vegas.Minnesota remains in the market for starting pitching and bullpen help, but on Thursday announced the signing of utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to a one-year contract and was finalizing a
MINNEAPOLIS -- Things are heating up for the Twins ahead of the Winter Meetings, which begin on Monday in Las Vegas.
Minnesota remains in the market for starting pitching and bullpen help, but on Thursday announced the signing of utility infielder Ronald Torreyes to a one-year contract and was finalizing a one-year deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop, according to a source.
It'll be an interesting Winter Meetings for the Twins, but I will no longer be covering the club. On Monday, I start as the Angels' beat reporter for MLB.com, as it allows me to be closer to my family in the Los Angeles area.
Other than the Torreyes and Schoop news, the Twins continue to touch base with agents and get medicals on players they're interested in signing. They're also active in talking with other teams about potential trades.
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At the Winter Meetings, expect the Twins to make finding a closer a priority.
The Twins still could look for a first baseman even after adding C.J. Cron via waivers after he was designated for assignment by the Rays. Cron wasn't in their initial plans, but the opportunity was too good to pass up, as he hit 30 homers last year and will make $4.8 million after the Twins signed him to a one-year deal to avoid arbitration.
Christopher Austin, 27, still has potential, especially with his power after hitting 17 homers in 69 games between the Yankees and Twins last year. But he's a similar player to Cron, as they both bat right-handed and hit lefties better.
After non-tendering Robbie Grossman, there should be some at-bats available at designated hitter unless they want to rotate Cron and Austin at first base and DH. An intriguing option could be a power hitter like Nelson Cruz as a full-time DH, but that would likely mean that Austin would be expendable.
Willians Astudillo might be the most interesting player in baseball because he rarely walks or strikes out. In 29 games last year, he hit .355/.371/.516 with just three strikeouts and two walks in 97 plate appearances. He has elite bat-to-ball skills and is versatile, as he saw action at catcher, third base, second base, left field and center field.
It's still too early to know how the roster will shake out, as the Twins could make more additions, but Astudillo's versatility and success in September gives him at least a solid chance of making the roster.
I loved my time covering the Twins from 2011-18, and my favorite memory comes from when the Twins clinched an appearance in the American League Wild Card Game in '17. I remember the team waiting around in the visiting clubhouse at Progressive Field, watching on TV to see if the White Sox could eliminate the Angels from postseason contention with a win. When Nicky Delmonico hit the game-winning homer to send Minnesota to the postseason, the cheers in the clubhouse were so loud you could hear them from the pressbox. Covering the celebration was incredibly fun, and it's too bad the Twins didn't get to experience the playoffs more than once while I was on the beat.
And of course, I'll never forget Joe Mauer's final game, as it was the perfect send-off for someone who was not just an incredible player, but also a great person and role model.
I'm still waiting for my Gold Glove, as perhaps my proudest achievement on the beat was catching a foul ball in the pressbox hit by Austin on Sept. 28. I'm such a Statcast™ nerd, I even looked up the exit velocity to see that it was hit 80.2 mph off the bat. It was just another fun moment on the Twins' beat, which I will miss tremendously. Thanks for reading over the years, and make sure to follow Do-Hyoung Park's coverage going forward.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.