Saturday, December 7, 2013

Into the Winter Meetings

The Winter Meetings begin Monday, and Terry Ryan, the Twins general manager, has probably already made his biggest moves of the offseason:

  • Retained Ron Gardenhire as manager
  • Moved Joe Mauer to first base
  • Signed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes for the starting rotation

Ryan has typically been the master of winter patience, waiting until he has the last open seat in the game of player musical chairs. This time he's stuck rather quickly.

He still has something in the neighborhood of $15 million in 2014 budget space and a team with holes. What might we look for from the Twins at the Winter Meetings and beyond?

A roster opening move. The Twins have the fifth pick in the Rule 5 draft, but at this point no way to use it, as the 40-man roster is full. The Twins take Rule 5 seriously. They almost always select somebody in Rule 5, and are more likely than probably any organization in baseball to find a way to keep that selection, so it's hard to imagine Ryan and Co. sitting it out this year. But first they have to clear a spot on the 40.

Catcher. Ryan indicated this week, after A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia found new employers, that the Twins were willing to move ahead with Josmil Pinto as Plan A behind the dish for 2014. I suspect it's a case of willing but not eager. The options are thinning out, however.

Starting pitcher.  The Twins have added two starters; they're open to adding a third, but they don't have the urgency now that they did before landing Nolasco and Hughes. They remain linked to Bronson Arroyo and Mike Pelfrey; my particular case of Sid Hartman Disease — the irrational wish to bring back former stars — is focused at this point on Johan Santana, whose shoulder rehab has reportedly progressed to playing catch at 90 feet on flat ground. If they do sign a pitcher, I doubt it will happen before the Rule 5 draft, which is pretty much the final act of the Winter Meetings.

Trades? Unlikely. Ryan's said that he's more focused on free agency than on trades as a means to boost the 2014 team, because free agents don't cost players. (And, unsaid but implied, he's got more money to spend than trade chips to cash in.) The one real area of surplus he might have dealt from, second base, got dented with the news of Eddie Rosario's positive PED test.

But ... it's certainly possible that the Twins will create that roster space cited above by peddling somebody (most likely a bullpen arm) for a prospect who doesn't need rostering.


  1. Hmm, better keep an eye on that Sid disease. If you find yourself muttering "Pavano" over and over again, you'll probably need professional help.

  2. I seem to remember a certain world championship team a little over 22 years ago having an all-hitting, little defensive catcher (Harper) with a no-hitting, good defensive catcher (Ortiz) being okay. If they can carry an decent defensive catcher not named Butera, maybe Pinto and a veteran defensive catcher could make this work. It is a more veteran pitching staff and there is a former All-Star catcher at first to help guide them.