Derek Falvey says he misses the "accidental collisions" he's accustomed to having with fellow members of the Twins organization, the unplanned conversations that occur during a typical workday.
Dealing with agents and players via phone and Zoom is nothing new; what's novel is the inability to have the kind of casual, coincidental-or-not chat with someone in the cafeteria or by the elevator, the kind of conversation that could lead to an unexpected insight.
As the Twins' president of baseball operations talked earlier this week, he was uncertain how spring training will play out, while working on building his roster for whatever type of season may occur. Shortly after I spoke with him, the Twins signed four-time Gold Glove shortstop Andrelton Simmons, giving the Twins two of the best defensive players in the game in Simmons and center fielder Byron Buxton.
Simmons will start at short. Jorge Polanco most likely will start at second, with Luis Arraez replacing Marwin Gonzalez as a super-utility player. With that move, the Twins upgraded their fielding, helped their pitching staff and improved their offensive depth, because Arraez is a better hitter than Gonzalez.
While the Twins' slow negotiations with designated hitter Nelson Cruz have given the casual fan a sense of stagnancy, the Twins have signed an excellent shortstop, a former closer (Hansel Robles) and a veteran starter (J.A. Happ), all on one-year deals.
As scouts and GMs like to say, there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.
This is in keeping with Falvey's philosophy. He wants maximum flexibility — whether in the form of players or contracts — and doesn't want to block any of his top prospects. A year from now, if top prospect Royce Lewis is ready to play the infield, the Twins can simply let Simmons go.
Are the Twins close to being done?
Falvey reminded me that since 2018, the Twins have acquired three front-line starting pitchers — Lance Lynn, Jake Odorizzi and Kenta Maeda — during spring training.
"I would say in the cases of Kenta and Odo, there was a history there," Falvey said. "We had talked with their teams well before we ever did a deal, and it just so happened that we didn't finalize a deal until we were in Fort Myers.
"We had explored a deal for Kenta the year before and it wasn't the right fit or timing for both teams yet. When another team signs a free agent or makes an adjustment to their roster, that opens up a conversation that can lead to a deal. So we're not facing any kind of artificial deadline."
Falvey sounds comfortable with going to spring training with someone such as Randy Dobnak as his fifth starter, but I could see him taking a low-risk chance on another veteran starter who might be valuable in the postseason. I think he'll also pursue at least one more back-of-the-bullpen reliever.
His position players seem set, especially because Polanco and Arraez can play all over the field. Perhaps only Buxton and third baseman Josh Donaldson are dedicated to one position.
"[Polanco] came up as a second baseman and then worked his way into being a shortstop," Falvey said. "A lot of our guys can move around. Arraez can play third and left. Max Kepler can play all three outfield positions.
"It's our responsibility to go through the offseason and check in with every agent and every player. We always keep an open mind as to what could work down the road."
The Twins have made the playoffs three of the past four years and have won a remarkable 62% of their regular-season games the past two years.
Does Falvey lean toward taking pride in the regular season or fuming over continual losing in the postseason?
"I think it's OK to say 'Both,' " he said. "I'm equally excited and proud of what this team has accomplished in the regular season and disappointed in our postseasons.
"Our goal is always to get to the World Series and win it. If you're not, you should probably work in another business. That's our goal, but to get there you have to have a good regular season, which means having depth and winning 90-plus games to give yourself a chance.
"Obviously, it hasn't worked out in the playoffs for us. We're not going to stop thinking about that, believe me."
Jim Souhan's podcast can be heard at TalkNorth.com. On Twitter: @SouhanStrib. • email@example.com