If the Twins are being practical, they should be preparing for a medium-length reboot and an optimistic return to relevance in 2023.

But there are also scenarios by which they could accelerate that timeline in 2022 without jeopardizing their long-term timeline.

Those were some of the main takeaways from Thursday's Daily Delivery podcast with Phil Miller, as we discussed the (few) reasons for optimism in 2021 and what the Twins' path forward might look like.

With 2021 almost over, here is a look at five things ways the Twins could remake themselves and be relevant again next season — many of which hinge on smart decisions from Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the decision-making duo that Miller says is entering their most important offseason with the Twins.

Shrewd rotation moves: This is the biggest question by far, and the one that essentially can trump all others if it fails or succeeds. Starting pitching was a disaster this year, with the ineffectiveness of Falvine relative bargain free agents J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker contributing mightily to its undoing.

The list of 2022 free agents isn't great, but there is one intriguing name: Marcus Stroman. The Twins reportedly were interested in trading for him in 2019. He's a free agent who won't require draft pick compensation if he signs and at age 30 could be a reasonable risk on a longer-term deal.

I'd rather see the Twins spend $20-25 million a year on one good pitcher than on 2-3 mediocre ones.

Of course any rotation discussion is predicated on Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober continuing to pitch like top-four starters — which they did in small samples this season but for which there is no guarantee.

But sign one big name. Maybe re-sign the effective Michael Pineda. Piece together the rest and hope Kenta Maeda heals quickly. That has the possibility to be an effective rotation.

Back to the 2019-20 middle infield model: When the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons to a one-year deal before 2021, the hope was that one move helped three spots. Simmons would lock down shortstop. Jorge Polanco would move to second base, a better defensive spot. And Luis Arraez would become the super-utility player.

In reality, only second base and Polanco improved. Arraez posted just a .717 OPS, a mark better suited for second base than time also spent at third and left field. Simmons was a disaster. Until Royce Lewis is ready to take over shortstop — if he ever is, as Miller wondered about on the podcast — returning to Polanco at short and Arraez at second makes offensive sense and probably outweighs the defensive liability.

Josh Donaldson trade: The Twins third baseman has had a solid season with an .818 OPS and 24 homers in 525 plate appearances.

His remaining contract is either essentially two years for $51.5 million or three years for $59.5 million based on his 2024 $8 million buyout/$16 million team option. That's a lot of money, but it's not completely out of line for what Donaldson could get on the open market now. The Twins might have to eat some salary in any deal, but not a ridiculous amount.

So if the Twins are trying to win in 2022 with a sharper eye on 2023, does trading Donaldson make sense? I think it does, if they find a taker, because they might have corner infield prospects (Jose Miranda, possibly Austin Martin) ready to contribute relatively soon and freeing up some salary could make it more feasible to sign a top-end pitcher.

But it would be less about any Donaldson deficiency and more about where the Twins are as they try to finesse the present and the future.

Full year from Buxton: The Twins are 102-66 in the last three seasons with Buxton in the starting lineup. They are 108-106 when he's not in the starting lineup.

That's about all you need to know when it comes to why it's so important to keep Buxton — and to keep him healthy.

Benefit from bullpen volatility: The Twins bullpen was a disaster early in the season. It's been much better since the All-Star break. Building a bullpen is more of an art than a science, and it certainly requires some luck. It will be up to Falvine to press the right buttons in 2022. It's easier (and cheaper) to have a top-10 bullpen than a top-10 rotation.