Twins sorting out possible pitching options
Club believes it can still pick up quality starter to join Hughes, Nolasco
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- The Twins left the Winter Meetings on Thursday without making any notable moves, but general manager Terry Ryan believes he laid the groundwork with agents and other general managers to continue to improve the club this offseason.
The Twins made headlines last week, signing right-handers Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes to multiyear deals, but were unable to make a similar splash at the Walt Disney World Swan & Dolphin Resort.
Ryan, though, spent much of the week meeting with agents, and said he's not done making additions to the Twins, who are still on the lookout for another starting pitcher.
"We did a lot of good things down here," Ryan said. "It's amazing how many different sessions we had with people. There have been a few things happen the last day and a half, so I'm sure when people get home and regroup a little bit, you'll probably see a little bit more of that."
The Twins remain linked to free-agent right-handers Mike Pelfrey, Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza, although they've only extended an offer to Pelfrey. The offer to Pelfrey is believed to be a two-year deal worth $10 million.
Ryan said he believes there is still talent available in the starting-pitching market, and the Twins appear likely to add another starter to join Nolasco and Hughes.
"There's still some quality out there," Ryan said. "Anybody looking for pitching has choices, and that's a good thing. We were fortunate enough to get a couple of those guys early, and now we'll have to see exactly what opportunities are still out there for us. Everybody knows we're looking for pitching."
The Twins have also been in the market for a catcher with Joe Mauer moving to first base, but Ryan admitted that market has dried up quickly. They've reportedly checked in on free-agent backstop Kurt Suzuki, but lost out on signing top targets A.J. Pierzynski (Red Sox) and Jarrod Saltalamacchia (Marlins).
As a result, the club appears to be more comfortable allowing rookie Josmil Pinto to take over catching duties, but Ryan said the Twins will continue to monitor the catching market.
"We're paying attention to it," Ryan said. "We have a few other things on our plate, but certainly you pay attention."
Ryan also wouldn't rule out making an addition to help boost the offense, as Minnesota set a club record for strikeouts and finished 25th in the Majors in runs scored. But the Twins haven't been linked to any high-profile position players, and adding a starting pitcher remains their main goal.
"We were looking at offense down here just as much as pitching," Ryan said. "There are some things we should try to upgrade. Our first priority is starting pitching, but we struggled to score runs last year, so we'll look at that as well."
Deals done: The Twins didn't make any additions to their big league roster during the Winter Meetings. But they did sign first baseman C.J. Ziegler to a Minor League deal. Ziegler, 28, was named Baseball America's Independent League Player of the Year for 2013 after hitting .318 with 30 homers and 99 RBIs in 100 games with the Wichita Wingnuts of the American Association.
Rule 5 Draft activity: With their 40-man roster currently full, the Twins did not make a selection in the Major League phase of Thursday's Rule 5 Draft, but did select two pitchers in the Triple-A phase. The Twins selected right-hander Kevin Thomas from the Cardinals' Double-A affiliate and left-hander Jim Fuller from the Mets' Double-A affiliate in the Triple-A phase. The Twins also lost Double-A New Britain right-handers Jonathan Velasquez to the Mets and Tim Atherton to the A's.
Goals accomplished: The Twins met with several agents, including Scott Boras, who represents Pelfrey, and Terry Bross, who represents Arroyo. They have a better feel for the starting-pitching market as a result, and still want to add another starter via free agency.
Unfinished business: Ryan said he's not content with the current roster, and still wants to make additions to a club that lost 96 games last season. The Twins are still in the market for a starting pitcher, and could also add a catcher.
Team's bottom line: "We still have a lot of work to do. I'm open for business." -- Ryan