The team, with two new starters in hand, is among a crowd wooing the veteran righthander.
LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – Twins General Manager Terry Ryan apparently is serious about not stopping at two new starting pitchers.
At baseball’s winter meetings that began Monday, the Twins have continued negotiations with free-agent righthander Bronson Arroyo even as the Phillies, Angels and Pirates are also showing interest. Indications were that the sides were to meet Monday night at the Swan and Dolphin Resort on the Disney campus.
Arroyo, 36, has expressed interest in receiving a three-year deal, and the number of suitors lining up for him suggests that they believe he can help upgrade a rotation even if he’ll turn 37 by Opening Day.
When asked about his plans Monday night, Ryan said he was having dinner with his affiliates but then was going to “start right back in’’ on talks with agents and other clubs.
Arroyo is 138-127 in his career and has thrown at least 199 innings in nine consecutive seasons. In an interview last month on MLB Network radio, he expressed confidence that he had many more pitches left in his arm. Adding Arroyo would signal a massive overhaul of the Twins rotation, one of the worst in baseball the past two seasons.
The changeover began last Tuesday when the club signed righthander Ricky Nolasco to a four-year, $49 million contract. Nolasco, 30, is 89-75 with 4.37 ERA in his career.
Two days later, the Twins signed righthander Phil Hughes to a three-year, $24 million contract. Hughes, 27, is 56-50, 4.22 in his career — and that includes a 4-14 record last season, during which he went 1-10 at Yankee Stadium.
Kevin Correia, 9-13, 4.18 last season, was the Twins’ best starter. With Nolasco and Hughes on board the Twins can choose from Scott Diamond, Sam Deduno (who’s recovering from shoulder surgery), Vance Worley, Kyle Gibson and others for the final two spots of the rotation. Diamond is the only lefthander in the group, which Ryan admitted is not ideal for the rotation.
“I think it’s more important to have quality and not think about mixing it up,’’ he said, “but ideally if you have two to three lefties in your rotation, no one is going to be complaining about that.’’
Adding at least two, and maybe three, new starters allows Gibson, who took his lumps as a rookie last season, to be brought along slowly. And the Twins can also take more time with Alex Meyer, their top pitching prospect.
One thing the revamped rotation can do better than last year’s: Get hitters to swing and miss.
Nolasco throws in the low 90-miles-per-hour range with sinkers around 90, but he throws very good breaking balls that helped him to 7.45 strikeouts per nine innings last season.
Hughes’ fastball can reach the mid-90s, and he also has a solid breaking ball. His control can be spotty, but he averaged 7.5 strikeouts per nine innings last season.
Arroyo doesn’t bring swing-and-miss stuff — he averaged 5.5 strikeouts per nine innings. But his 1.5 walks per nine innings was better than any Twins starter last season other than Andrew Albers. So two of the new pitchers bring strikeouts; Arroyo, if the Twins land him, would bring savvy.
Ryan maintained on Monday that the organization has never had an aversion to strikeouts.
“We addressed it because we like those two guys [Nolasco and Hughes], and they come with some strikeouts,’’ Ryan said. “And certainly with those guys it comes with years and it comes with salary and so forth. We’ll take strikeouts. We like strikeouts. I have to talk about this quite often. I don’t know why all of a sudden people think the Twins don’t like pitchers who can strike people out. We like strikeouts.’’
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