LAS VEGAS – The Rule 5 draft had not ended Thursday when some Twins officials — including Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and manager Rocco Baldelli — headed for McCarran International Airport.
Their work was done. They checked out of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino and returned to the Twin Cities without adding a player, getting close to adding a player or having any of the handful of trade rumors they were connected to approach the juicy stage.
It was one of the Twins’ least active winter meetings in years.
“I certainly don’t think we come with the objective that we have to do something,” Twins General Manager Thad Levine said. “We aspire to lay some groundwork for doing something down the road, but we have two major openings this offseason, and we filled both of those at first and second base.”
The Twins believe conversations they had with agents and teams will pay off later, but this week turned out to be a big fat zero on the player acquisition front.
As a whole, the winter meetings failed to deliver. Bryce Harper, who is from Las Vegas, could have owned the town by taking the stage to announce his new team. But he remains a free agent.
Manny Machado is unsigned. J.T. Realmuto trade rumors percolated then cooled off. The biggest news story of the week was the uproar over Harold Baines being elected into the Hall of Fame by the Today’s Game Era Committee.
The only electricity in the hotel was generated by fans in town for the National Finals Rodeo. The National Pastime was outdone by Cowboy Christmas this week.
There’s plenty of time before spring training, but the industry might be bracing for another offseason in which a couple dozen free agents are unsigned by the first workout day.
The Twins signed Jonathan Schoop to play second base and claimed first baseman C.J. Cron off waivers from the Rays before the meetings. Satisfied with their starting rotation options, they arrived in Las Vegas looking for bullpen help. Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, Joakim Soria, Kelvin Herrera are among the pitchers they are interested in.
The market won’t heat up until a few of them find homes. The Dodgers entered the waters Thursday, signing Joe Kelly to a three-year, $25 million deal.
“It kind of feels a little more normal with respect to how winter meetings have been in years past,” Falvey said. “I do remember last year that run of 24-48 hours of relievers that was a little crazy.
“There’s definitely more activity and more conversation going in the group that we’ve talked about and maybe more advancement than what we experienced last year.”
The Twins like Japanese lefthander Yusei Kikuchi, but don’t like their chances of landing him because of the widespread interest in the Scott Boras client. They were interested in righthander Charlie Morton before he signed a two-year deal with the Rays. And they are willing to bring in free agent bopper Nelson Cruz if the price is right.
To recap: The right side of the infield has been secured. Four-fifths of the starting rotation is settled, with the club expecting righthander Michael Pineda to contribute after being paid last year to rehabilitate from Tommy John surgery. Trevor May will be counted on as a late-inning reliever, and young Fernando Romero could be a relief option.
They have two months to add more relievers, so their approach is to let the market evolve.
“We’re not in a rush,” Levine said. “We’re trying to make sound business decisions and there’s a lot of supply out there. There’s a lot of players on the marketplace still. So we’ve got a lot of options.”