Other Offseason Shopping Needs
Image courtesy of Brad Rempel, USA TodayPeople have wise-cracked throughout the offseason about the reigning worst team in baseball facing so many "roster crunches." However, the Twins legitimately find themselves in such a situation. As a rebuilding club with no shortage of talent in the organization, their foremost imperative is evaluating what they have on hand.
Which players are going to be part of the next contending Minnesota club? This year, fresh eyes will be making those assessments. There are only so many opportunities to go around, and I suspect Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will focus on looking closely at what they have before making a ton of acquisitions.
With that said, let's take a look at places where the Twins could theoretically still be looking to add, irrespective of a Dozier trade:
I'd say this one ranks at the top of the list. It's the one position on the field where the Twins still do not have a clear and obvious starter. Presumably that'll be Jorge Polanco in the event that Dozier stays, but he'd be a major defensive weakness at the infield's most important position. (He has been playing primarily second in the winter league, which is telling.)
If Dozier is dealt, then Polanco goes to second and Eduardo Escobar returns to short. Escobar was, of course, very bad in 2016 and he barely played shortstop during the final months.
The Twins remain confident that Nick Gordon will eventually take over this position, but he's a couple of years away. It makes all the sense in the world to find a veteran on a short-term deal who could compete for a starting gig or serve as a quality backup/fallback.
In our blueprint for the Offseason Handbook, we suggested Erick Aybar for this role. He's still out there, and probably not very expensive. Another potential option would be Daniel Descalso, who spent the last two seasons playing for the Rockies and is coming off a career year at the plate (he took over after Trevor Story went down).
Late-Inning Setup Man
It's unrealistically optimistic to expect that Glen Perkins, coming off shoulder labrum surgery, shows up at Fort Myers throwing well enough to reclaim the closer job. There are others who will be in play for that title, including incumbent Brandon Kintzler and potential long-term heir JT Chargois. But the Twins would do well to bring another contender into the mix, because quality late-inning arms are always needed.
Drew Storen was one buy-low candidate I liked, but he signed for one year and $3 million with the Reds last week. That's exactly the kind of no-risk gamble the Twins should be pursuing. Neftali Feliz is a name I've had my eye on, though he's coming off a good year in Pittsburgh and will require a larger commitment. Greg Holland would be a bigger splash with higher upside. Joe Blanton could be a dark horse.
As we approach mid-January, there are still so many free agent relievers out there that some of them are going to have to start settling for less than they want. That's where the Twins can strike for a good value.
Heading into this offseason, I figured this would be a priority of sorts. The collective major-league experience of Minnesota's returning bullpen lefties is dauntingly thin. But after taking a closer look at the 2016 relief corps, I'm convinced that they don't really have a need here.
Taylor Rogers, Buddy Boshers and Ryan O'Rourke all showed enough to deserve longer looks. Each of them effectively dispatched left-handed hitters and that's the name of the game with these specialist roles. Adding an experienced southpaw means taking away opportunities for one of these guys.
Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler are tentatively penciled in as the starting outfield trio. Robbie Grossman could vie for a job, but might be better suited as a backup and DH based on his defensive shortcomings.
With a focus on run prevention and a pitching staff that figures to remain fly-ball heavy, finding a defensive specialist who plays all three outfield positions would make sense.
Danny Santana has been filling that role, but he has also been one of the worst players in baseball over the past two years, and you have to squint to see his upside at this point. J.B. Shuck was signed to a minor-league deal last month, and he's renowned for his glove, but he's considered weak in center.
Defensive whiz Peter Bourjos is still out there and would fit the bill quite nicely. Desmond Jennings, still only 30, might be available on a minor league contract.
Strange as it is to say, I don't see any reason for the Twins to pursue players here. The market is thin on quality and there are already so many starters that will come to camp deserving of an honest chance to win a job. That list presently includes Ervin Santana, Hector Santiago, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Jose Berrios, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and more.
Obviously the Twins will welcome any high-caliber young arms coming back in a Dozier trade, which will only further crowd this picture. Why add more veteran mediocrity to the mix? If there's an opportunity to take a flier on a boom-or-bust guy then sure, but those players will find more amenable situations elsewhere.
Are there any other areas you feel that the front office should be making additions as we count down the weeks until spring training?
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