NASHVILLE, TENN. – It seems as if every team other than the Twins has lit up the transaction wire at baseball’s annual winter meetings.
This year, the Twins might leave the Opryland Resort and Convention Center with no new players. The meetings wrap up Thursday with the annual Rule 5 draft. The Twins have selected a player in the draft in seven of the past 10 years, but indications are that they don’t like this year’s class and will sit out the major league phase.
There’s still plenty of offseason left, and the Twins previously added two new players in catcher John Ryan Murphy and designated hitter Byung Ho Park.
But this week, so far, has been marked by lots of talking but no action.
With the meetings set to end Thursday, here’s how the Twins stand on several fronts.
Search for a lefty reliever
Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo are the two most accomplished relievers available, but, according to a source, neither Sipp nor Bastardo are on the Twins’ radar. While General Manager Terry Ryan continues to meet with agents, there is a feeling the Twins might have to trade to acquire the right reliever.
And Ryan wants more than a situational lefthander. He prefers someone who can get righthanded hitters out and pitch more than one inning when needed.
“I’m not going to bring in one just to say, ‘We’ve got a lefty,’ ’’ Ryan said.
Behind Sipp and Bastardo, the list of available lefthanded relievers include Neal Cotts, Jerry Blevins and Matt Thornton.
Ryan still feels he is headed in the right direction in his search for a lefthander, but he might go for another righthander if that doesn’t work out.
“I don’t have anything to report to you,’’ Ryan said, “but at least I had some good dialogue.’’
A possible trade of Nolasco
A report suggested that the Twins were shopping Ricky Nolasco, but another club source said the veteran righthander is not being dealt. They might have, however, checked around before deciding not to move him.
Nolasco is 11-14 with a 5.64 ERA in two seasons with the Twins. He has appeared in only 36 games over those two seasons. And he’s due $25 million over the next two seasons. Being ineffective, injured and expensive means the Twins aren’t going to get much in return for him — if they wanted to move him. So they plan to enter spring training with Nolasco on the roster. He will be given a chance to win a spot in the rotation. Competition will be stiff, with Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Ervin Santana, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May and prospect Jose Berrios in camp.
But the Twins have no intention of giving Nolasco away. Pitching well would build his trade value.
“He will come into camp and compete for a spot and we will see how it sorts itself out,’’ Ryan said.
“If some of those guys don’t make the rotation, then they will have an opportunity to make the team in a different role.’’
Also need an outfielder
The Twins might bring in a fourth outfielder, and they reportedly have checked in on Rajai Davis, among others.
Ryan would like the fourth outfielder to be able to play center field, but it’s not vital because Byron Buxton and Eddie Rosario can play there. Danny Santana, who was sent to the minors twice last season after a promising 2014, can play center as well as the middle infield positions and could make the team. The Twins, however, might want to go with someone with experience off the bench.
“It’s not like we don’t have guys to shift over there, but we are also aware of the youth [in the outfield],’’ Ryan said. “We are a little guarded this year because we had a few of the young ones not go forward [in 2015] and go backwards on us.’’