• Early Signs Point to Unprecedented Aggressiveness

    Despite the acknowledgement of Twins officials that the club has plenty of financial flexibility this offseason, many fans have understandably been reluctant to believe that truly aggressive measures are in the offing. A lack of early activity has only served to magnify that skepticism, but as we've often noted, this isn't at all unusual in the weeks prior to the Winter Meetings, especially in a shifting marketplace.

    While we haven't seen any bold moves yet, there have been plenty of signs that the Twins are quite serious about taking uncharacteristically splashy steps in order to improve the club.

    Through the rumor mill, we have seen the team connected to numerous starting pitchers that rank noticeably higher than the usual low-end targets. In a column for 1500 ESPN this week, Darren Wolfson suggested that based on what he's hearing, Ricky Nolasco is currently atop Terry Ryan's wish list, with Bronson Arroyo right behind him.

    Neither Nolasco nor Arroyo could be considered one of the true top-tier free agents in this class, but they're both legitimate proven pitchers and they're both coming off very good seasons. Last year the Twins landed Kevin Correia, who was coming off a season in which he got booted from the Pirates rotation, and Mike Pelfrey, who was coming off Tommy John surgery. Needless to say, landing a pitcher or two whose stock is actually up would represent a stark change, and would leave much less room for criticism.

    That the Twins are seemingly far more interested in wading into the deeper end of the free agent pitcher pool than they have been in the past isn't really surprising considering their continually horrendous results on the mound, but the rumors that continue to linger on the catching front are a bit more noteworthy.

    The Twins have historically been far more apt to utilize free agency to acquire stopgaps and short-term plugs than impact players and long-term solutions, and in the case of the catcher position, that would really be perfectly understandable this time around. Joe Mauer's position swap does open up a hole at the position, but Josmil Pinto provides a not-too-distant potential internal replacement and Ryan Doumit is still presently in the mix.

    Nevertheless, the whispers concerning Minnesota's interest in Jarrod Saltalamacchia -- who stands out as the top remaining catcher on the market after Brian McCann signed with the Yankees -- just won't die. Coming off a season in which he posted a career-high .804 OPS at age 28, Salty has the looks of a difference-maker, not a placeholder. The Twins have also been linked to Dioner Navarro, who won't be quite as pricey but is similarly coming off a career year and under the age of 30.

    There are plenty of serviceable veterans available in free agency, and I fully expected Ryan to focus on acquiring one such player as a temporary fix behind the plate while keeping his attention largely trained on pitching, but the idea that he's actually motivated to bring in a catcher who can upgrade the lineup is both surprising and encouraging.

    Of course, in the past we have often seen the Twins rumored to have interest in high-profile players early in the free agency period, only to scoff at high price tags and end up with uninspiring acquisitions. Heck, we saw it last year.

    This has a different feel, though. Never before have the available funds been this copious, and never before has the owner been so vocal in his desire to see money spent on making meaningful improvements. In a recent interview with Adam Platt of Twin Cities Business Magazine, Jim Pohlad made the following comments, which echo some other things we've heard from him over the past few months:

    "We have a lot of prospects, but most arenít quite ready. We donít have a lot of trading inventory. We have to go into the marketplace. Terry knows that. Iím not encouraging him to wait."
    Empty rhetoric? Perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time. But there are numerous signals indicating that this organization is feeling a far greater sense of urgency than is typical, and that provides some real reason for hope. Around this time of year, that's something for which to be thankful.
    This article was originally published in blog: Early Signs Point to Unprecedented Aggressiveness started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 39 Comments
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Empty rhetoric? Perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time. But there are numerous signals indicating that this organization is feeling a far greater sense of urgency than is typical, and that provides some real reason for hope.
      After reading the latest from Wolfson at 1500 I am thinking it might be empty rhetoric. It has some pessimistic indicators. Hopefully they are just playing games with agents.
    1. dwintheiser's Avatar
      dwintheiser -
      Given Parker's story about the Twins already making an offer to Mike Pelfrey (and that offer not being high enough), I'm going to withhold any enthusiasm for a 'big free agent signing'.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      When reading some of the linked materials from your article I actually get less sure of the Twins actual commitment. In Doogie's article the Twins are breaking their word on giving up a draft pick for a decent signing:

      The Twins have told agents that they don't plan on sacrificing their second-round pick in June's amateur draft to sign a free agent, despite a public declaration stating otherwise. In other words, starters Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez aren't in the Twins' plans. In fact, Santana's representatives already have meetings set up with teams in Orlando. The Twins, as of Tuesday morning, are not on that list.
      In reading the Pohlad article the feeling I got is that Jim Pohlad has committed to not actively inhibiting Ryan from signing players:

      We have a lot of prospects, but most aren’t quite ready. We don’t have a lot of trading inventory. We have to go into the marketplace. Terry knows that. I’m not encouraging him to wait.
      I think there is a big difference in "I'm not encouraging him to wait" and actually saying something like "I have encouraged him to be aggressive on both money and years."
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by dwintheiser View Post
      Given Parker's story about the Twins already making an offer to Mike Pelfrey (and that offer not being high enough), I'm going to withhold any enthusiasm for a 'big free agent signing'.
      Understandable, and I thought about mentioning it, but I just can't put a ton of stock into rumors coming from Heyman regarding Boras clients.
    1. Smcginnity's Avatar
      Smcginnity -
      Anything less than two decent FA signings, I will be disappointed. I bet they sign 1 less than decent pitcher (Pelfrey) and then get a bunch off the trash pile after that. They do this every year and it is so old at this point. What they should do is go hard after Garza and probably an Arroyo/Kazmir type. But, I don't see it happening. It will be a bunch more rhetoric that leads to the aforementioned pathetic FA signings.
    1. SDFan's Avatar
      SDFan -
      I thought McCann went to the Yankees?
    1. darin617's Avatar
      darin617 -
      Twins aggressive in off season? I hate to say you have to prove me wrong before I start drinking the kool aid. Just because they are talking to agents means absolutely nothing until they pull the trigger on a deal. The agents probably have not laughed so hard when they finish a meeting with the Twins people.
    1. MichiganTwins's Avatar
      MichiganTwins -
      SDFan, he did sign with the Yankees
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Early signs point to rumors of stuff maybe happening, but just as it is too early to say they'll do nothing, it seems a bit early to get confident, doesn't it?
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      The agents probably have not laughed so hard when they finish a meeting with the Twins people.
      It will be a bunch more rhetoric that leads to the aforementioned pathetic FA signings.


      This forum is quickly becoming unreadable, Nick offers a reasonable and well thought out opinion and everyone has to rush in with the same old, tired, "Dohhh the Twins won't do anything, Ryan should be fired, derp" rhetoric that has been non stop. We get it, nobody likes coming off of three bad seasons, making thread after thread and post after post about how the Twins won't do anything, are a laughing stock etc does nothing to expand the conversation and frankly will do nothing but drive away anyone who would actually like to have a discussion about the Twins.

      It was this sort of daily garbage that kept me off the forums the majority of the second half of the season, and I know I wasn't the only one. This isn't directed at this thread as it hasn't gotten out of hand...yet.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How about this Dave, as a specific example?

      Early signs indicated they would give up their 2nd round pick for a good player. Now, Wolfson tweets they are telling agents they won't do that.

      That is a specific example of why "early signs" don't mean much (either way, frankly). Until stuff is done, it is just so much talk (for every team).
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      The problem is that people feel compelled to write something -- even when there really isn't anything to say. (This is not a criticism of you, Nick, this is about all of us).

      There really isn't anything to say. You can take what you've heard as encouraging as Nick has done or you can take a negative view and say that nothing has changed.

      In the long run, none of it matters -- it's actions, not words, that will make the difference.
    1. SpiritofVodkaDave's Avatar
      SpiritofVodkaDave -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      How about this Dave, as a specific example?

      Early signs indicated they would give up their 2nd round pick for a good player. Now, Wolfson tweets they are telling agents they won't do that.

      That is a specific example of why "early signs" don't mean much (either way, frankly). Until stuff is done, it is just so much talk (for every team).
      It says they don't plan on parting with a 2nd round pick (not that they wouldn't, and even Ryan said if it was the right player they would), and frankly I think the fact they aren't meeting with Santana is a GOOD thing, I wouldn't give him a 100 mil.

      I'd much rather they sign one of the guys like Garza who doesn't cost the pick anyways.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      Dave is just grumpy because Mark DeRosa retired!
    1. DJL44's Avatar
      DJL44 -
      Dioner Navarro could provide what most of what they're looking for from Saltalamacchia (LH bat, decent catcher) at a fraction of the cost. It will be interesting to see what happens.
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      It says they don't plan on parting with a 2nd round pick (not that they wouldn't, and even Ryan said if it was the right player they would), and frankly I think the fact they aren't meeting with Santana is a GOOD thing, I wouldn't give him a 100 mil.

      I'd much rather they sign one of the guys like Garza who doesn't cost the pick anyways.
      Agreed. Right now, the only guy I'd give up a pick for is Jimenez. With Garza on the market, I don't think it's necessary to give up a pick to get a good pitcher (but I'd still give up the pick for Ubaldo).
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Missing the point of my post completely..............

      Early signs mean nothing, they are just talk. They talked about giving up their 2nd, now Wolfson is tweeting they won't do so. None of the talk matters, only action matters. And, if it is too early to say "they are doing nothing", it is similarly too early to say "they are doing something".

      Who they'd give up a pick for is not at all what I was discussing.
    1. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I also feel that actions will make a difference. Twins should only pay for a frontline(#1 or #2) starter for 3 years or more. Twins should also be very aggressive in pushing Stewart and Thorpe up the latter to see if they can make the rotation in 2016. That would make this line very plausible.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by SDFan View Post
      I thought McCann went to the Yankees?
      Derp. Brain fart. Fixed, thanks.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      But since we are talking who they should sign, this article explains my thinking on Ellsbury (excpet it is why the Cubs should sign him)....

      http://espn.go.com/blog/sweetspot/po...acoby-ellsbury
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