Posted on January 30, 2017 by Bryan Zarpentine
Aside from the signing of catcher Jason Castro early in the winter and the will they or won’t they drama surrounding the possible trade of second baseman Brian Dozier, it’s been a rather quiet offseason for the Minnesota Twins. However, like a few other small-market clubs, the Twins are poised to become active late in the offseason in hopes of finding a few bargains on the free agent market. According to recent reports, the Twins have decided to focus on improving their bullpen before the start of spring training.
“There are a lot of pitchers still on the free-agent market and we’re having conversations with a lot of agents for those pitchers,” Twins GM Thad Levine said in an interview on Sunday. “I would expect in between now and opening day we’ll have added at least one or two pitchers to our mix to enhance both the depth and the quality within our 12-man staff.”
Reports coming out of the Twin Cities indicate that Joe Blanton, Boone Logan, and Jerry Blevins are among the relievers the Twins have their eye on at the moment. All three are among the best relievers still available on the free agent market. It’s doubtful that any of those three would compete for the closer’s job with Brandon Kintzler and Glen Perkins. However, all three are proven big league pitchers capable of taking on a prominent role in Minnesota’s bullpen.
The Twins had the worst bullpen in the American League last season. Perkins returning from shoulder surgery after missing nearly all of last season should help, assuming he’s healthy. However, the Twins need to do more, and adding at least one pitcher from the group of Blanton, Logan, and Blevins would be a meaningful step in the right direction.
It’s worth noting that Blanton, Logan, and Blevins would all add a veteran presence to Minnesota’s clubhouse, something the Twins are also looking to add to their roster before the season. “We’ve been very consistent in our messaging this offseason that we have a desire to bring in players we feel have leadership skills,” Levine said. “It could help accelerate the development of some of our young players,” adding that leadership will be taken into consideration when signing a player.
The Twins could also stand to add an established big league starter to help shore up their rotation for this season. However, finding a quality starter in free agency has been difficult this winter, and the Twins should have enough candidates to create competition for the five rotation sports during spring training. There’s also been talk linking Minnesota with free agent slugger Mike Napoli, who could be a potential target if the Twins are looking to give their lineup a boost.
Those are certainly options worth exploring, but by all indications, the Twins are going to focus on upgrading their bullpen. Nothing appears to be imminent, but Levine appears confident that he’ll be able to add at least one quality reliever to the team’s roster before the start of the season.
“We feel as if there’s a wealth of quality free agents still on the market,” Levine said. “For whatever reason, as the calendar turns to February, there are a lot of players without homes. So, we’re in active conversations with agents to monitor the market. We’re having numerous conversations that I’d consider to be active. But it’s hard to handicap what will come to fruition.”
At this point, the addition of one or two quality setup men isn’t going to suddenly turn the Twins into a contender. But if Minnesota strives to avoid a repeat of the disaster that was last year’s 103-loss season, improving the bullpen is imperative, and Levine is wise to make that a focal point at this point in the offseason.