1) The Twins will be one of the first teams to sign a pitcher, and it will be a relatively big name.
This certainly wouldn't be business as usual, and I don't actually think it'll be Zack Greinke
. But the front office has been frank in its dissatisfaction with the current starting pitching situation, and has expressed an urgency to address that unit during the offseason. In his recent interview with John Bonnes for the Offseason Handbook
, Terry Ryan hinted that he'd be taking a hard look at some of the better pitchers in free agency, and when John asked whether the plan was to sit back and wait as opposed to aggressively pursuing targets, Ryan responded, "If I do that, we'll probably be holding the bag. You know pitching is going to go off the board."
My guess it that the Twins have a list of high-end to mid-tier free agents that they especially like, and they'll get one of those guys signed pretty quickly, which will set the course for the rest of their offseason.
2) Denard Span will be traded.
And fans, including myself, will probably be disappointed in the return. Span's a very good player that just doesn't seem to be valued as highly around the league as he should be. It's no secret that the Twins have been open to dealing him multiple times in the past and have never gotten an offer that quite enticed them. This winter, they have more motivation to move him than ever before, with Ben Revere's emergence, Chris Parmelee's presence, rising outfield prospects and major pitching needs. Hopefully Span's best year since 2009 will help the Twins get the return they deserve.
3) Payroll will increase.
I'm going out on a limb here to some degree, because most people seem to think the team's spending will sink after another revenue-dropping ugly season. It's hard to blame them. Still, I think Ryan is going to want to do a lot of things this offseason in order to give Ron Gardenhire a fair shot at keeping his job next year, and I think the ownership will give the GM financial flexibility to make a lot of those things happen. It's in everyone's best interest. I'm not saying payroll will rise back to $100 million, as I've suggested it should
, but I'd be awfully disappointed to see it drop. Again.
4) Alexi Casilla will be non-tendered.
As a guy who can't hit well enough to start and really only excels at one position defensively, Casilla is the definition of a futility infielder. He's entering his third year of arbitration, which means he'll be due for a raise (albeit slight) on his $1.38 million salary from this past year. There's always been a distinct trace of promise somewhere deep within the athletic Casilla, but he's coming off one of his worst seasons and is now 28. It's time to let go. With cheaper options like Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Florimon available, the Twins are likely to agree.
5) The Twins will draft a Rule 5 player who will stick.
When asked about how he intends to overhaul the pitching staff during the offseason, Ryan always responds by stating that he intends to pursue "all avenues," and he invariably mentions the Rule 5 draft as one of them. He doesn't mention how rarely impact players are acquired there.
Nevertheless, by virtue of another horrible finish the Twins will once again be one of the first teams to pick, and hopefully they've learned a few things from last year's ill-fated Terry Doyle selection. I think they'll grab someone and find room to give him a shot, and I'm not even sure it will be a pitcher. There are other weaknesses on this club.