LAKE BUENA VISTA, FLA. – There was a time this week when it appeared that the Twins were going to land another starting pitcher, but Major League Baseball’s annual winter meetings concluded Thursday with General Manager Terry Ryan unable to crack the transaction wire.
The meetings could, and probably will, be viewed from afar as a disappointment. After signing righthanders Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes last week, the Twins hit Disneyland with some momentum and an ambitious list of players to approach. Yet the club’s front office couldn’t continue the wave of acquisitions.
There have been 44 days since the final out of the World Series and there are 65 days until Twins pitchers and catchers report for spring training in Fort Myers, Fla. — not even the halfway point of the offseason. Ryan says he believes there’s plenty of time to shape the roster.
“We did a lot of good things down here,” he said. “It’s amazing how many sessions we’ve had with different people. There have been a few things happening over the last day and a half. I’m sure when people get home and regroup a little bit, you will see a little more of that.”
Ryan continues to make starting pitching a priority. Here’s where the Twins stand with some of their targets, based on information from variety of sources:
• Matt Garza, RHP: One of the better players still on the market, Garza would scoot to the front of the Twins rotation. But there are indications that Garza is seeking a four- or five-year deal, and the Twins might be scoffing at that. He hasn’t thrown more than 156 innings in each of the past two seasons. He also has a screw near his elbow dating to a childhood condition, making long-term wear and tear somewhat of a concern. The Twins don’t appear to be comfortable with a lengthy commitment. The Diamondbacks and Angels also have expressed interest in Garza.
• Bronson Arroyo, RHP: The Twins met with Arroyo’s agent, Terry Bross, during the meetings. Bross also met with the Pirates and Reds. The veteran, who will be 37 on Opening Day, reportedly wants a three-year deal. Are the Twins willing to go that far? He’s a fly-ball pitcher who could benefit from moving to Target Field. Then again, he would be coming over to the American League.
• Mike Pelfrey, RHP: The Twins have made progress with trying to re-sign Pelfrey, increasing their two-year, $10 million offer to two years and around $12 million. Each side likes working with the other, but how much farther are the Twins willing to go in order to sign a pitcher who was 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA last season? The Giants and Rangers also have shown interest in Pelfrey.
• Masahiro Tanaka, RHP: The Twins could put in a bid for Tanaka, who was 24-0 last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles. But some believe half the teams in baseball are willing to pay the $20 million posting fee and then try to outnegotiate the field. But Tanaka hasn’t been posted yet. His team is expected to make that decision next week.
Other reports have had the Twins linked to lefthander Paul Maholm, catcher Kurt Suzuki and shortstop Stephen Drew.
They have new starters in Nolasco and Hughes, but their shopping list still consists of at least one more starter, a catcher and — somehow — whatever offensive help they can find. The offseason continues to be a busy one.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do yet,” Ryan said.