Twins still looking for help on offense

The Twins know there is still offseason work to do.

Free-agent shortstop Stephen Drew had 500 plate appearances in 2013 for the first time since 2010. He responded well, hitting 13 home runs and driving in 67 runs for the Red Sox.

Photo: File photo by Matt Slocum • Associated Press,

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger


The Twins created some Hot Stove buzz this month with the signing of quality free-agent starters in Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes. And they negotiated with Bronson Arroyo and Matt Garza at the winter meetings and on Saturday re-signed Mike Pelfrey.

But when a team loses 96 games, as the Twins did last season, pitching usually is just part of the problem. And the Twins so far have done little to bolster one of the worst offenses in baseball.

“Our first priority was starting pitching,’’ Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said. “But we struggled scoring runs last season and we need to address that.’’

They did sign Jason Kubel on Friday to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training — and he has a good shot at making the team — but the Twins know they need more than just a player looking to rebound from a down season.

The Twins offense was across-the-board bad in 2013. It ranked 25th in runs scored, 23rd in OPS (on base-plus-slugging percentage) and were second in strikeouts. They were 29th in batting average with runners in scoring position and 27th in stolen bases, the result of little team speed. When they did run, they were 29th in stolen base percentage.

Two free agents who could lift the Twins offense are shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielder Nelson Cruz. Both have played in the World Series, too, a trait the Twins would like to add to their clubhouse. The Twins were linked to Drew — by far the best free agent shortstop — in one report last week at the winter meetings, but nothing since. And there have been no indications that the Twins are after Cruz, who was suspended 50 games last season for his involvement in the Biogenesis PED scandal.

Both players turned down $14.1 million qualifying offers from their teams to become free agents. Teams that sign them would have to give up a first-round draft pick — except teams who had one of the 10 worst records in the league. The Twins are in that Terrible 10 and would lose a second-round pick if they signed a player tied to compensation.

Would Ryan be more willing to give up a second-round pick than a first? “Yes,’’ he said. “In the right situation.’’

But the price might not be right. An agent at the winter meetings pointed out that players who turn down qualifying offers are looking to get as much or more in a long-term deal. Drew batted .253 with 13 homers and 67 RBI for Boston last season. Cruz batted .266 with 27 homers and 66 RBI in 109 games for Texas but will turn 34 on July 1. Is each player worth a three-year, $45 million deal? Both players could end up with their old teams. The Twins could use the offensive upgrade at both positions, and the free-agent pickings at their positions are slim — unless the Twins are ready to offer Shin-Soo Choo a massive deal.

The Twins also are looking for catching help, but not necessarily an offensive catcher. They like the potential of Josmil Pinto, who batted .342 with four homers and 12 RBI during a 21-game late-season call-up. He needs to continue to work on his catching skills, so the Twins would like to bring in a veteran. Ryan Doumit is expected to have a role as well.

“We’re going to have to have somebody that can kind of lead the way for him,’’ Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “He’s a pretty tough kid. We saw some things last year that he needs to work on those things. Offensively he’s strong enough.’’

The Twins have expressed interest in veterans John Buck and Kurt Suzuki, who would appear to be good fits.

Several returning Twins players, like shortstop Pedro Florimon, third baseman Trevor Plouffe, outfielder Aaron Hicks and outfielder-first baseman Chris Parmelee could be better players in 2014, but the Twins aren’t going to wait and see. Ryan is looking at free agents and trades as he addresses the offense.

“Last year about this time I thought our offense would be plenty good enough, and unfortunately enough it wasn’t,’’ Ryan said, “so we have to take a look at everything, both sides of the plate. It’s not just starting pitching. We have to look at that offense. We need a lot of things to happen. We need to fix a couple guys as well.’’

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 6:00 PM
Orlando 6:00 PM
Memphis 6:30 PM
Indiana 7:00 PM
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Atlanta 7:30 PM
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
New York 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 6:00 PM
Detroit 6:00 PM
Carolina 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
New Jersey 6:00 PM
NY Rangers
Boston 6:00 PM
Winnipeg 6:00 PM
Washington 6:30 PM
Dallas 7:00 PM
St. Louis
Philadelphia 7:00 PM
Anaheim 7:00 PM
Chicago 8:00 PM
Edmonton 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 37 2nd Half 10:45
Maryland 52
Gonzaga 24 1st Half 10:48
BYU 13
Mercer 18 1st Half 5:40
Georgia 26
San Francisco 19 1st Half 6:22
Pacific 23
Wright State 6:00 PM
Ohio State
Presbyterian 6:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Brescia 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Tennessee St 7:30 PM
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 14 4th Qtr 5:55
So Carolina 17
Boston College 7 3rd Qtr
Penn State 7
(25) Nebraska 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
BYU 56 2nd Half 5:46
Gonzaga 69
Pacific 80 2nd Half 4:45
San Francisco 47
St Marys-CA 44 2nd Half 10:19
Santa Clara 44
San Diego 7:00 PM
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Do you like the Twins' offseason moves so far?

Weekly Question