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The early weeks of the offseason have not been particularly eventful for the Twins. We've seen them connected to a few different pitchers and catchers in free agency, but like many other teams, they have been slow to act here in November. That's not unexpected; with the market going through a significant shift, both agents and team execs are still feeling things out.
Once a few major contracts are signed, we will likely begin to see the dominoes fall at a fairly rapid pace. I just wouldn't anticipate the Twins being one of the teams to set the standard.
We did see a few notable developments take place within the system on Tuesday, however.
The first was a report coming from Puerto Rico that prospect Eddie Rosario has tested positive for a banned substance and could face a 50-game suspension. Apparently the positive test resulted from some pills that the second baseman was taking to treat an arm injury.
If true, this is obviously horrible news. Rosario is one of the organization's brightest prospects (he ranked No. 7 on Twins Daily's list in the spring) and being forced to sit out 50 games is extremely rough for a young kid who was rising quickly through the system and still adapting to a new position.
The bright side is that Brian Dozier has firmly established himself at second base and was going to be locked in for at least the first half of the 2014 season regardless, so there was never any rush to get Rosario into the majors. If anything, this gives the club more time to see what they have in Dozier while Rosario serves his suspension and acclimates in the latter part of the season.
What makes this hurt is that, from my perspective, Rosario was the best trade chip in the organization -- a standout talent at a valuable position coming off a fantastic minor-league season in which he advanced to the high levels. I'm not fully sold on Dozier but I believe in him enough to think that moving his potential successor in the right deal would be worth the risk.
I'm also personally a bit lower than some on Rosario as a prospect, because although his production has been undeniably impressive I don't see his all-around skill set making him a real safe bet to succeed in the majors. He struck me as a sell-high guy who might have been flipped for maximum value this offseason, or else moved around the deadline next year if he managed to do some damage in Triple-A. Now that's all out the window, assuming the report is true.
Terry Ryan stated that the impetus for the move was a desire to swap a potential reliever for a potential starter, which makes sense for depth reasons, but Johnson seems like an even greater long shot than Welker to make an impact in the majors. Perhaps the Twins were emboldened by the Andrew Albers surprise, since Johnson is similarly a late-20s journeyman who found his way back into affiliated baseball after spending time in an independent league a couple years ago, but it's tough to find much to like here. He looks like Triple-A filler.
Not that there's anything wrong with that. But fans are already getting antsy to see some meaningful activity on the starting pitching front. And for now, they're still waiting.
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