In their current condition, the Twins can be an appealing place for marginal players to come and get a chance to play.
How many places could Doumit and Carroll have gone last year and get as much playing time. I don't think anyone else was offering at starting SS opportunity. Doumit needed to go somewhere to DH. No one would want his defense as a primary catcher. Minnesota was a good fit.
How many teams do you think offered Willingham the third year? With his injury history and poor defense, it is hard to project that he would be a plus LF for three years. In this case, the Twins may have "overpaid" in years.
Free agent pitchers will see an opportunity in Minnesota to get plenty of opportunities to start. There is an opportunity to sign a guy like Bedard looking to turn around a career to a one year deal.
How do the sign a guy like Sanchez who can join almost any rotation? Why would he choose the Twins if the money is the same? I don't think anyone can objectively state that the Minnesota outlook for 2013, their defense, their coaching staff, their medical staff or local endorsement opportunities will trump other offers. The only way is to stand out is to offer more money or an additional year. Basic market dynamics.