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TwinsCentric: Evaluating the rumors

Posted by: Nick Nelson Updated: December 17, 2013 - 11:58 PM

After adding Mike Pelfrey over the weekend, the Twins have now signed three free agent starters to join Kevin Correia in the rotation, adding around $25 million to the 2014 payroll in the process. At this point, one would figure that Terry Ryan is done investing in the rotation and ready to turn his attention to the offense.

And yet, the pitching rumors continue to persist. Here's a quick glance at all the latest offseason rumblings involving the local club:

* I felt that the chances of the Twins signing Bronson Arroyo went from slim to nill after Pelfrey was locked in, but Mike Berardino cites a source with direct knowledge as saying that the team still has "strong interest" in the veteran right-hander.

With four starting spots essentially claimed, and with Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond and Vance Worley all remaining to compete for that final job, I am extremely skeptical that Ryan is serious about spending big on another multi-year contract, which could hamper the flexibility of a rotation that should be setting up to usher in some young homegrown talent over the next few years.

I could see the Twins signing a guy like Arroyo if he was available at a price they viewed as a bargain. But Arroyo -- along with the rest of the remaining free agent crop -- isn't waiting around this long to sign for a discount, especially with a non-contender.

Steam Rating: 2/5

* Darren Wolfson of ESPN 1500 reports that the Twins are maintaining a dialogue with Johan Santana, and that the former Cy Young winner is "very open to a return."

Santana seems like a more sensible target than Arroyo. He won't require an expensive long-term deal (more like a minor-league pact with incentives) and I see no way that he'd be a consideration to open the season in the rotation. Coming off his second major shoulder surgery since leaving Minnesota, Santana did not pitch at all in 2013 and -- last I heard -- still hasn't even thrown off a mound yet.

If he were to come aboard, it would likely be in the same capacity as Rich Harden last year. He'd spend the early part of the season rehabbing and building strength, and would hopefully be able to join up and make an impact at some point down the line.

Even with the Twins' rotation becoming somewhat crowded, Santana would still stand a good chance of earning an opportunity here, and it's a place that he's comfortable. I could see it.

Steam Rating: 3/5

* Prior to the Pelfrey signing, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick mentioned that the Twins were monitoring free agent lefty Paul Maholm.

Whether or not that interest remains is unclear, but Maholm is a logical target for the back end of the rotation. He'll be relatively inexpensive, and has posted a solid 3.89 ERA while averaging 168 innings over the past three years. Most notably, Maholm is a left-hander, and the Twins currently have no southpaws slotted into the starting corps.

Steam Rating: 2/5

* Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle named the Twins as one team with interest in catcher Kurt Suzuki.

Suzuki is intriguing. He emerged as a fairly solid player early on in Oakland, but has really fallen off over the past few years, with a .237/.294/.357 hitting line since 2010.

He's still only 30, he'll be cheap and he's got a good defensive reputation. Seems like a logical fit as a backup. I still think John Buck or another more well-traveled veteran is more likely, though.

Steam Rating: 3/5

* On Tuesday, Jon Heyman tweeted that the Twins are among the teams looking at slugger Mark Reynolds.

It's tough to make much sense of this one, because Reynolds is coming off an ugly season and really doesn't profile as a third baseman anymore, even though that used to be his primary position. He's more of a 1B/DH type and the Twins already have an abundance of those between Joe Mauer, Ryan Doumit, Jason Kubel and Chris Parmelee.

More than anything, Reynolds seems redundant with Trevor Plouffe, who shares a decidedly similar skill set. Both are substandard corner infield defenders who strike out a lot, hit for low averages and mostly just offer pop from the right side. I'm still a believer in Plouffe, at least as a part-time asset, but if the Twins are actually making a push for Reynolds it's probably not a good sign for the third base incumbent.

In combination with the Kubel signing, the Reynolds whispers indicatee that the Twins are looking for cheap power bats that they can buy low on. For all his flaws, Reynolds has cranked 202 homers in seven MLB seasons.

Steam Rating: 2/5

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