Today is the deadline to offer contracts to arbitration-eligible players; those who are non-tendered become free agents.
Also today, the Twins have a pair of free agent not-quite-signees in for physicials, the major hurdle in turning Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes into bona fide signees.
The Twins as of this morning had 39 players on the 40-man roster, so they'll need to drop somebody to add both Nolasco and Hughes. Presumably the Twins will want to play in the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings next week; that requires an open spot. If the rumors about adding a catcher and/or yet another pitcher are valid, still more spots will be needed.
The convergence of the free agents and the tender deadline is coincidental, and the decisions shouldn't be connected — by which I mean, the Twins shouldn't nontender Brian Duensing merely to make room for a free agent. Dropping one of their three arbitration-eligible players (Duensing, Trevor Plouffe and Anthony Swarzak) should be based on their projected salary via arbitration (which will be a sizable raise for each) versus their value to the team.
I expect the Twins to tender all three. There is room in the budget and roles on the squad for them. The one most at risk is probably Duensing, but I don't envision the Twins cutting him loose.
Still, there are cuts ahead. The front office, I'm sure, knows who will be removed from the 40-man roster. My guesses: Liam Hendriks and Kris Johnson, with Chris Colabello also a real possibility. Eric Fryer, as I said a week or so ago, will probably remain on the roster unless and until a catcher is added.
UPDATE: I was apparently a bit ahead of myself on the Hughes physical. A press conference is scheduled for Tuesday for the Nolasco signing. And the Twins indeed announced today that they were tendering contracts to Duensing, Plouffe and Swarzak.