LAS VEGAS -- The Twins can upgrade their roster by savvy trades or aggressive free agent purchases. But everything this offseason continues to focus on Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Getting the pair of former top prospects turned around, in the Twins' eyes, could be their most important transactions of the offseason.
It sure seemed that way Wednesday when new manager Rocco Baldelli talked at baseball's winter meetings about visiting Buxton (above) somewhere in his home state of Georgia before spring training begins.
"I've been in contact with him a couple of different times on the phone, some text messaging, but the plan is to go visit him in person and spend some time with him in person and have some real conversations with him," Baldelli said.
Buxton, as chronicled by our Phil Miller on Tuesday, revealed just how upset he was in late in the season when the Twins decided not to call him up in September. Buxton vowed not to become a problem once camp starts and wants to remain with the Twins. But it's clear he's coming to camp a man on a mission.
"I think Byron has earned the right to express himself and let everyone know how he's feeling," Badelli said. "But more importantly, I think, going forward, I think he's ready from all the conversations that I've had with him to get out there and start fresh and play and get out there and have a great year.
"I think he's focused on the future from everything that I've heard about him and getting that impression from talking to him, I think the focus is more in the future than on the past."
And when asked if he planned to visit any other players before camp, he revealed that he was.
"I'm going to go see Miguel, spend a little time with him as well," he said. "And as of right now that's basically the plan for offseason travel and visits."
Will that visit be in Florida or near Sano's home in the Dominican Republic?
"The plan is D.R." Baldelli said.
What a coincidence. Baldelli is going to visit the two players the Twins need the most to help the team bounce back following a 78-win season.
I'll have more from Baldelli's press briefing online later today in my story for the Thursday paper.