LAS VEGAS -- The signals keep getting stronger that the Twins will not be very active this week at the MLB Winter Meetings. They will meet with agents and explore trades with clubs -- and could use a bullpen arm or two -- but it doesn't look like anything big will go down this week.
Here's a midday update from the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.
"Being able to address out first base and second base needs by way of, first, through a waiver claim in (C.J.) Cron then to get (Jonathan) Schoop, we felt like we stabilized in two areas we knew we needed to," said Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey. "Now we can be more open-minded about some other conversations we have moving forward. I don't think we have any specific goals we're hoping to come out of this week with here. But we will meet with teams and meet with agents and continue the conversations we've been having for the last few weeks."
The key part of that statement being, "I don't think we have any specific goals we're hoping to come out of THIS WEEK with here." For some reason, the free agent market for relievers has moved at a snail's pace. Craig Kimbrel is the big cheese on the market, and reports that he wants a six-year contract might be scaring teams. And the market might not shake out until he decides where he wants to play.
Or, maybe some clubs will grow impatient and start signing the Cody Allens and Kelvin Herreras of the free agent world.
"It feels as if it is a little bit of a different free agent relief class this year where you have some high-end closers whereas, last year, there were a lot more guys that we viewed collectively as more seventh and eighth inning guys," General Manager Thad Levine said. "So I don't know if those closers are going to move a little bit more slowly."
With the Twins hot stove currently set to simmer, the organization hopes to continue its get-to-know-you tour with new manager Rocco Baldelli. Baldelli will spend the week sitting in on meetings and getting to know members of the organization.
"With a new manager, what we can control at these meetings is having him integrate with some of our player development folks and some of our senior scouting voices who know him or have met him but really haven't had a chance to spend a lot of time with him," Levine said. "Any time you get your group together it is kind of a de-facto organizational meeting. So we will try to move forward as a group and continue the bonding there."
All it takes is one phone call for the Twins to turn up the burners and make news at the winter meetings. As of now, it doesn't look likely.
ROMERO TO THE RESCUE?
As I have written, the Twins believe they have four-fifths of their rotation figured out, and will select a fifth starter from the group of arms they have in camp (I'm sure we'll see the "opener" used a couple of times).
And that affects the bullpen too. Some pitchers who don't make the rotation could be earmarked for the bullpen. And, since I'm on that subject, you might want to prepare to see Fernando Romero come out of the bullpen in 2019. The rumblings a about such a move are back. Romero, whose fastball averaged 95.4 mph last season but has touched 97, so has shown the mentality of a late-inning pitcher – and a future closer.
For more details, be sure to catch my story in the Strib tomorrow -- which means it will be available online this evening.
PRAISE FOR ROCCO
The managers press conferences have begun, and Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash was asked about one of his former employees -- new Twins manager Rocco Baldelli.
Cash was full of praise. He believes that Baldelli's ability to understand new-school dynamics while connecting with individuals personally is a great combination.
"To watch how he really learned to communicate with players and have some difficult conversations and also understanding the game, the end game decision making, he's going to do a really good job in Minnesota," Cash said.