Wolfson: Twins Winter Meetings Primer

Updated: 11/27/2013 11:28 PM KSTP.com By: Darren Wolfson

Twins general manager Terry Ryan
Twins general manager Terry Ryan

There's a reason why the Twins have been attached to almost every free agent starting pitcher and a few bats: their offseason plan is flexible, as they are well aware that almost any player can help them.

That being said, league sources maintain that pitcher Ricky Nolasco remains atop their so-called free-agent wish list. But if the money doesn't match -- the Twins haven't made an offer yet, according to a source with direct knowledge, but the parameters are known -- they will move on.

One Twins official suggested that it's unlikely the Twins will make a splash this week, but expect action to pick up next week.

Next week brings the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla., where free agent deals and trades typically occur.

Here's a Twins Winter Meetings Primer:

--A four-year, $50 million deal, or in that vicinity, can nab Nolasco. Word is, like many free agents, he's open to playing for the Twins.

--So is free agent starter Bronson Arroyo. According to a source, he's looking for a three-year deal in the $27 million to $30 million range. If the Twins offer him two years, look for him to sign elsewhere. He makes his offseason home in Tampa, so he might meet with teams in Orlando. If he does, plan on him sitting down with the Twins' brain trust. One source suggests that Arroyo is choice No. 2 for the Twins. But again, it comes down to years and money. The Twins have leeway with their plan.

--That fluidity includes interest in starters Matt Garza and Phil Hughes. But no offers have been made on either front. The good news, if you want the Twins to sign one or both, is that nothing is close with any team.

--Japanese starter Masahiro Tanaka is probably an extreme long-shot, but a Twins source continues to maintain that they like him a lot. Complicating matters is that the posting process is being held up. So, there's no guarantee as of Tuesday that Tanaka will even pitch in the major leagues next year. If he does, it's expected the Yankees, Rangers, Angels, Cubs, or another big spending team will win the blind posting fee battle.

--The Twins talked trade with a handful of teams at the general managers' meetings a couple weeks ago, and will continue the dialogue next week. Two league sources say Reds starter Homer Bailey, a free agent after the 2014 season, is one player they're fond of. Twins special assistant Wayne Krivsky, heavily involved in the offseason molding, was once the Reds' general manager.

--One Twins source scoffed at the notion that they'd have interest in a trade for Detroit starter Rick Porcello. But didn't have the same reaction when suggested Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson.

--The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise. In other words, starters Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez aren't in the Twins' plans. In fact, Santana's representatives already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando. The Twins, as of Tuesday morning, are not on that list.

--The Twins would like to acquire, at minimum, two starters this offseason. The thought is at least one will come via free agency. The other could come via a trade, or also free agency. That's why they've maintained interest in free agents Suk-Min Yoon, Roy Halladay, Mike Pelfrey, Scott Feldman, Gavin Floyd, Chris Capuano, Jeff Karstens, and others.

--Johan Santana is sort of on that list, but he'd have to accept a very low one-year base salary with a bunch of incentives. The Twins got burned on Rich Harden last year and don't want to make the same mistake. A Twins source said they've seen the medical records, then paused thereafter. That reaction says a lot.

--The Twins have not expressed interest in these free agent starters, according to sources,: Chien-Ming Wang, Jason Hammel, Scott Baker, and Paul Maholm.

--The Twins expressed interest in free agent starter Jason Vargas, but never made an offer. He signed a 4-year, $32 million deal with Kansas City last week.

--The Twins never expressed interest in starter Colby Lewis, who re-signed with Texas last week on a minor-league deal.

--The Twins are maintaining dialogue with free agent catchers, including A.J. Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Boston is seen as stiff competition for Pierzysnki, who was at the general managers' meetings. One Twins source didn't deny that they met with him there. To get Saltalamacchia, who a source says would sign with the Twins, the offer has to be for at least three years. The annual money figures to be in the $9 million to $11 million range.

--It's unlikely that those two are the only catchers in which the Twins have interest. Dioner Navarro, John Buck, and Kurt Suzuki could also be intriguing options.

--A couple years ago the Twins had interest in trading for outfielder David Murphy. However, they passed when he hit the free-agent market. They never made a call. He went to Cleveland on a two-year, $10 million deal.