- the strengths of the new coaching staff,
- Joe Mauer’s future at catcher,
- additional offseason priorities beyond starting pitching,
- how Twins approach waiver wire or minor league free agents,
- thoughts on the state of the Twins minor leagues,
- his evaluation of the Twins middle infield,
- whether Trevor Plouffe can stay at third base,
- how the Twins will fit Chris Parmelee into the lineup,
- and of course how the Twins will try to fix their starting rotation.
One encouraging note, at least in my opinion, is that Ryan seems to be open to adding free agent pitchers who are a few cuts above Jason Marquis, who the Twins signed to a one-year, $3M.
TWINSCENTRIC: As you look at the pitchers who are likely to become free agents or are scheduled to be free agents, do you think it’s a deep free agency class?
TERRY RYAN: Thin.
TWINSCENTRIC: You think it’s thin?
TERRY RYAN: Sure. You tell me who you’re thinking about. I can’t comment on who is out there. There’s a few guys out there who are pretty darn good.
TWINSCENTRIC: Are you likely to be chasing some players who are pretty darn good?
TERRY RYAN: We better.
TWINSCENTRIC: So you’re looking to add a top of the rotation, maybe not a #1 guy, but maybe a #2 guy or a top half of the rotation?
TERRY RYAN: We’ll see. We’ll figure out how many years he’s looking for and how many dollars they want to get.
TWINSCENTRIC: Are you willing to give multi-year deals to pitchers?
TERRY RYAN: You aren’t going to get a pitcher unless you give a multi-year deal.
So who qualifies as a “pretty darn good” pitcher? Despite Ryan’s characterization of the market as thin, there are no shortage of candidate that could be viewed as an asset to a rotation. Beyond ace Zach Greinke, the following will all likely get a contract in excess of $20 million dollars this offseason: Jake Peavy, Ryan Dempster, Dan Haren, Anibal Sanchez, Edwin Jackson, and Kyle Lohse. Another half dozen could get contracts in excess of $10 million: Hideki Kuroda, Brandon McCarthy, Hisashi Iwakuma, Ervin Santana, Joe Saunders, Jeremy Guthrie and Shaun Marcum. That’s fourteen pitchers, most of whom would raise the eyebrows of even the most skeptical Twins fan.
However, Ryan was also hesitant to commit to a payroll number and again emphasized that the Twins rotation woes won’t be solved solely through free agency. Does this mean the Twins may only have the funds to make one major signing and look to fill the other spots via other means?
We likely won’t need to wait too long to find out. Ryan hinted that he plans to be aggressive with players that they think are going to be a good fit. That is consistent with the Twins approach last offseason, when players like Ryan Doumit and Jamey Carroll were signed even though there were still players in higher demand available.
After this last season, don't you deserve to enjoy the offseason?
The full interview (as well as profiles of all the above pitchers) will be available in the TwinsCentric Offseason Handbook, which comes out tomorrow. You can still get it at its presale discount price through the World Series. And if you’re still on the fence, you can download a sample here.