Most of the Twins' offseason focus has been on the team's attempts to re-sign designated hitter Nelson Cruz. But there's another free agent the club hasn't given up on.
Righthander Jake Odorizzi remains unsigned, and the club continues to keep in touch with him. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has suggested both Cruz and Odorizzi remain on their radar.
After being named an All-Star in 2019, Odorizzi pitched in just four games in 2020 because of a back injury, a line drive to the chest and then a blister. Despite posting a 6.59 ERA, there's a belief that Odorizzi will still land a decent deal, and he might be the best remaining free-agent starter not named Trevor Bauer.
The Twins continue to monitor the market, and a shift in their direction could lead to a deal with Odorizzi. That would give the Twins a rotation that, despite lacking a true ace, would be deep with Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ and Odorizzi.
But Odorizzi isn't their only starting pitcher option. The Twins attended righthander Jake Arrieta's throwing session on Friday and will stay in touch with him as well.
Cruz remains unsigned, but it seems as if a reunion with the Twins is inevitable, especially if the National League will not use the designated hitter. The Twins have made at least two contract offers to Cruz, who is seeking a two-year deal.
Cruz's agents have waited to see if there would be a universal DH in 2021, which doesn't appear likely at this point. So things could heat up between the sides soon.
"We've made no secret that we have continued to have dialogue, and good dialogue, around that," Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said. "Not to reveal too much beyond that, in terms of the internal conversation between Nellie and his agents, it remains active and productive on that front."
It's not out of the question that the Twins bring back both Cruz and Odorizzi.
Recovering lost revenue
Falvey joined owner Jim Pohlad and President Dave St. Peter for a town hall-style Zoom chat. Pohlad was asked how he planned to make up for lost revenue from the pandemic-marred season of 2020. Pohlad replied that he's not trying to.
"We don't really think of it like that," Pohlad said. "I'm not sure if we can ever make up for it. None of our objective includes trying to make up for what happened in 2020. It was significant. It was devastating. And you have to accept that as a loss going forward and not make it a goal to recover those losses either from fans or by affecting our payroll. That's not the mind-set we have been in at all.
"Hopefully, 2020 is behind us and 2021 will be a bit better and eventually we get it all behind us."
That might explain why the Twins are considering bringing back both Cruz and Odorizzi.
Lewis on Simmons
Royce Lewis could make his major league debut this season, but the Twins' plan was to give him more time in the minors to develop. And the signing of Andrelton Simmons buys the club one more year before they have to consider giving the former first overall pick an extended run in the majors.
At the same time, Lewis will report to spring training next month with a chance to work with one of the best-fielding shortstops in the game.
"I can't wait to learn from the guy," Lewis said during a Player Q and A run by closer Taylor Rogers.
Lewis, a terrific athlete, is still learning the nuances of playing shortstop.
During the "Chilling with the Skipper" segment on Saturday, Baldelli was put on the spot by the second questioner of the day, a Derek from Pittsburgh.
"How do you feel about winning back-to-back most handsome manager in baseball?" he asked.
Derek, in this case, was current Pittsburgh manager and former Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who infiltrated the event to mess around with his buddy.
Shelton has needled Baldelli about the award ever since he won it for the first time during the 2019 winter meetings. During the Twins' visit to Pittsburgh last season, Shelton had the PA announcer mention the award during pregame introductions.
"I'm not surprised to see him on this Zoom and to ask that particular question," Baldelli said.
"I deserve the award, but not because of what the award is. I deserve all the issues and backlash and the jabbing from people like Derek because I have ridden and gotten on people and have had a good time riding people for so long, I deserve all this."
It wasn't over for Baldelli, as the next question came from a fan named Susan Smalling who wanted to know if he deliberately wore an unkempt beard last season to avoid winning the award again.
"This is going to be a seemingly ongoing thing," Baldelli said with a tinge of reluctance.
Baldelli is the first back-to-back winner of the award since Brad Ausmus in 2013 and 2014, the first two years after a blogger started the contest.