Don’t get too attached to your favorite Twins, the team’s new baseball bosses warned season-ticket holders Thursday, because “some very difficult decisions” are pending about how to restructure the roster.
Does that mean Brian Dozier, rumored to be the trade target of several teams around the majors, might be wearing a new uniform next spring? Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the duo hired to turn the Twins around, aren’t ready to say.
But in the team’s annual question-and-answer session for ticket holders, the two hinted they are willing to trade even the most popular current players.
“Our goal each year is to have as many impact players on our team as we possibly can, but our goal is not necessarily to have the exact same players on the field, because you can start getting too attached to guys and you may make some mistakes,” Levine, hired earlier this month as general manager, said in response to a question about Dozier and Ervin Santana, the team’s most valuable position player and pitcher in 2016. “We recognize that people are going to get attached to players, but what we want to get attached to is winning. And sometimes we’re going to have to make some very difficult decisions along the way, because our hope and goal is to bring a championship-caliber club here each and every year.”
Fox Sports reported last week that the Dodgers had contacted the Twins about Dozier, and a major league source told the Star Tribune that the Twins received “a lot of interest in Dozier” at last week’s general manager’s meetings.
Speaking specifically of Dozier and Santana, Levine said: “We have the utmost respect for [them]. We think they have made major contributions to this organization, and we don’t take that lightly.” But, he added, “we’re going to have to make some decisions here to try to put ourselves in position to win year in and year out. As we sit here today, those two guys are a huge part of that.”
Falvey, the Twins’ new chief baseball officer, and Levine answered roughly two dozen questions during the hourlong session, and said they now feel educated enough about their own roster to begin making transactions, which will begin Friday when they add players to the 40-man roster to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. They are also ready to explore trade opportunities of their own.
“We’re getting more proactive in making [trade] calls. We’ve identified some targets out there,” Levine said. “We’re definitely looking to augment our pitching, [and] we feel we need to address our catching situation, both short term and long term.”
Some other responses to fans’ questions:
• Miguel Sano is a third baseman, Levine said, but his days of playing the outfield aren’t necessarily over.
“We view Miguel as having a chance to be an above-average third base defensively who’s going to be a force offensively. … We feel most logically, [third base is] where his home is going to be,” Levine said.
“That being said, the more versatile a player is defensively, the more valuable he will be. … So the extent to which Miguel can still play the corner outfield spots only makes him that much more valuable and more of an asset.”
• Trevor May’s role remains unsettled, but the Twins would like to see the 27-year-old righthander, who spent the past season and a half in the bullpen, return to the rotation.
“He has the chance to impact us in either area,” Falvey said. “We’ll partner with Trevor on our plans moving forward, find ways for him to be effective for us in either role and hopefully prepare him potentially to take on a starting role next year.”
• They are counting on Phil Hughes to make a strong return from surgery to correct thoracic outlet syndrome, which helped end his season in June.
“Phil Hughes is healthy, and he should be back,” Levine said, “which should be a big plus for this organization because he’s a guy who can eat a lot of innings, and stabilize this rotation.”
• They have assembled a list of candidates for hitting coach and first base coach to replace Tom Brunansky and Butch Davis, and are working with manager Paul Molitor to complete his staff for 2017.