The Twins' rotation, which has been in a state of flux for two seasons, now at least looks on paper to be fairly well set in most cases.
Kevin Correia, by default the Twins' best and most reliable starter for the duration of 2013, has another year under contract. Mike Pelfrey, who made 29 starts and improved as the season went along in his first year back after Tommy John surgery, is reportedly back with the Twins on a two-year deal.
And, of course, Ricky Nolasco (4 years) and Phil Hughes (3 years) were signed with the expectation that they will bolster the middle-to-top of the rotation for years to come.
If everyone is healthy and productive -- always a big if, but bear with us -- it leaves one spot open in the rotation. And it leaves a rather considerable competition for that one spot.
Our question: If the season started today, who do you think would get that final spot in the rotation? The candidates, as we see them, in the most likely order for the start of 2014.
*Sam Deduno: He had a 3.83 ERA in 100-plus innings as a starter last season. The downside is he hasn't stayed healthy and it's still unclear if he can keep up his good work.
*Scott Diamond: He was the Twins' best starter in 2012, winning 12 games with a 3.54 ERA. His 2013 was a clear regression, with an ERA close of 5.43, more walks, fewer strikeouts and far less command. If he regains his 2012 form, he would be a welcome addition to the rotation as a left-hander among a sea of righties.
*Kyle Gibson: He struggled as a rookie in 2013, but he still appears to be the most ready of the organization's higher-level prospects to break through into the rotation at the start of 2014.
*Brian Duensing: Probably best-suited in the bullpen, but with the emergence of Caleb Thielbar as another lefty to go with Glen Perkins in the pen, Duensing could be considered if the team wants a lefty and Diamond falters. His career ERA in 61 starts is 4.57, a full run higher than his ERA as a reliever. That said, 4.57 is better than what the Twins have experienced for the past couple years from their starters.
*Vance Worley: Remember, Worley was the Twins' OPENING DAY STARTER in 2013. He faltered miserably, was OK in Class AAA and now his status remains unclear.
*Alex Meyer: A long shot, we would imagine, at least at the start of 2014. But if the kid blows people away in spring training, you never know.
*Andrew Albers: Again, the lefty factor and his good work in 2013 could put him in the mix.
The great news: We're not talking about all these guys as candidates for 3-4 spots. Just one spot. Your thoughts, please, in the comments.