Derek Falvey and Thad Levine did not talk about bidding on a free-agent catcher such as Matt Wieters, going after a credible pitcher like Jeremy Hellickson or constructing a four-team deal involving a chunk of their roster.
There were no indications Monday that big moves were coming, but it was clear that the Twins new front office executives share a vision for getting rock-bottom baseball off the ground in the Twin Cities.
Falvey was introduced as the Twins’ new chief baseball officer and Levine as the senior vice president and general manager, a presentation that was delayed several weeks as the Twins waited for Falvey, then Cleveland’s assistant GM, to ride out the Indians’ playoff run. With Falvey now on board, the pair will scramble to assemble an offseason battle plan. What is just as important to them is how they get the most out of an organization that lost a club-record 103 games last season.
On Tuesday, they will be in Scottsdale, Ariz., for the annual GM meetings. Rob Antony, the former interim GM who will remain as vice president of baseball operations and assistant GM, will travel with them and help with the transition.
Falvey was able to have conversations with Antony, manager Paul Molitor and even former GM Terry Ryan while he finished his duties with Cleveland as his former team reached Game 7 of the World Series before losing to the Cubs. Now the big chair is his.
“We are hitting the ground running and looking forward to getting to know a little more better the internal players and staff here as we go,” Falvey said. “Thad, Rob and I will be out in Arizona. We will begin to dive underneath the hood of the team here. We’ve spent a great deal of time planning, going into [Monday] and these meetings. But we would expect that we are going to go through player personnel and decisions and evaluate aggressively over the course of the next 72 hours and look forward from there.”
Some roster decisions are obvious. With Kurt Suzuki departing as a free agent, the Twins desperately need a catcher. Former Twin Wilson Ramos would be the best on the free-agent market if not for tearing his ACL with Washington in September. Catchers such as Wieters, a four-time All-Star with Baltimore, could appeal to the Twins.
“It’s a position we are not going to gloss over,” said Levine, who noted that a staff with so many developing pitchers needs a strong catcher. “It will be a real focus for us this offseason.”
Figuring out the third-base situation — whether to bring back Trevor Plouffe, go with Miguel Sano or look elsewhere — is another issue. Falvey and Levine also have to figure out the designated hitter position, with Kennys Vargas and Byung Ho Park on hand, Sano a candidate and Joe Mauer needing at-bats there.
And is there anything they can do to bolster the rotation? Rich Hill, 36, is the top free-agent starter on the market, with Hellickson next. It’s a thin market.
“With pitching, you want to explore every opportunity to add talent,” Falvey said. “Whether that’s being opportunistic in the free agent market or through trades or unique development philosophies. There is no one way to attack that.”
Immediate plans are to determine the fate of the coaching staff, which the club would like to announce by the end of the week.
“Paul and I talked in great detail over the last few weeks about each coach on the staff,” Falvey said.
Falvey indicated that front office staff will remain intact. Both Falvey and Levine, who each signed five-year contracts, are passionate about making people better, and plans are to add to the staff, not initiate a purge.
Twins owner Jim Pohlad said he will provide Falvey with the resources he needs to bolster the staff, improve scouting and development, whatever is required.
“That’s my total priority for these guys,” Pohlad said. “The [roster] transactions will occur, but strengthening our organization, to me, is the key to our long-term success.”
That blockbuster trade or impact free-agent signing won’t come any time soon.
“I don’t think we’ll do anything purposely to make a splash,” Levine said. “We want to make very thoughtful decisions that are designed for the future of this organization. We’re not going to be scared to make a move, but we’re not going to make moves just to make a change.
“The most prominent changes we’ll make right away will be investments in the infrastructure. Into the decision-making process, into the resources that we provide to every one of our employees. It’s going to be an additive process into the infrastructure, and those will be the most meaningful changes at the outset, followed closely by what we do at the major league level.”