The Twins on Thursday continued to restructure their baseball operations department with the hiring of Thad Levine as senior vice president and general manager.
Levine, who spent 11 years as the assistant general manager for the Texas Rangers, will report directly to new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey. Falvey was named to the role a month ago but couldn't start until his executive duties with the AL champion Cleveland Indians were complete.
Falvey and Levine will attempt to turn around a franchise that has had losing records in five of the past six years, including a club-worst 59-103 in 2016. They will be introduced Monday during an 11 a.m. news conference at Target Field, then fly to Arizona for the annual general manager's meetings.
"Derek's vision and certainly his experience and impact in Cleveland, combined with Thad's impact and experience in Texas, I think gives us a great combination of talents," Twins President Dave St. Peter said. "We're excited and can't wait to get to work with them."
Levine, 44, essentially will be the No. 2 man behind Falvey, like he was with Rangers GM John Daniels. It looks like a lateral move in which the change in title is the only difference.
But baseball front offices are evolving. More general managers are working under another executive who makes the final decisions. The Twins sought such a structure after they dismissed Terry Ryan in July.
Interim GM Rob Antony was a candidate to remain as GM but is now expected to land another role with the team.
Levine's name came up during their CBO search before the Twins settled on Falvey. But St. Peter said Falvey spoke highly of Levine when they learned he was available. Falvey and Levine have had a strong business relationship through the years.
"From the start, Derek had made it clear to us that the No. 2 partner, as he puts it, was going to be critical in his ability to influence the type of impact in the short term that will be essential to our long-term success," St. Peter said. "We were thrilled as an organization when we became aware that the opportunity to engage in discussions with Thad Levine."
Daniels, while speaking to Rangers media Thursday, said of Levine: "From a professional standpoint, he is energized by the challenge. He's a builder by nature. And so I think that opportunity really spoke to him. On a personal level, I think Thad and [wife] Claudette were really drawn to a lot of what Minnesota has to offer."
The Levines have three children.
Levine was hired by Daniels in 2005 and has assisted him in every aspect of baseball operations. His strengths appear to run parallel with Falvey's. Both understand analytics but respect scouting. Both are considered to be skilled communicators who can inspire others.
"All of us are here to help people and help people improve," Daniels said of Levine. "He's great at that. He's got a lot of empathy as a listener and can put himself in the other person's shoes. He can help an individual, a department or an organization improve. His comfort spans the entire spectrum. He's comfortable in all arenas. Everyone who has worked with him over the last 11 years is better for it. He's a uniquely gifted baseball talent and a great person."
How Falvey and Levine click as a team will be tested right away. The Twins usually have their offseason game plan in place by now, but they postponed their annual organizational meetings in Florida because Falvey wasn't available to them. They usually know what free agents they want to pursue by now and have identified trade targets. The coaching staff for 2017 has to be settled, too.
Falvey hasn't even addressed the department yet. That will happen Monday, with Levine by his side. Then it's off to Arizona to begin work on the roster.
Maybe it's a good thing the Twins have added another layer to their baseball operations department as they play a little catch-up.
"That's something that Derek and Thad are well aware of," St. Peter said. "I think they are more sensitive to the human aspect of our organization, the anxiety over change, and they are going to work as quickly as they can to build relationships with our existing staff and personnel. That's what their No. 1 focus will be. We think there is ample time to tackle those other aspects and decisions.''