The Twins met with Zack Wheeler’s representatives at Jet Sports during last week’s GM Meetings, Darren Wolfson of 1500 SKOR North reports in his latest podcast (audio link). Minnesota also has interest in free-agent lefty Madison Bumgarner, much as they did prior to the July 31 trade deadline. The Twins filled one spot in the rotation when Jake Odorizzi accepted the qualifying offer, but they still have virtually no certainty beyond Odorizzi and fellow righty Jose Berrios. Thankfully, Minnesota has a substantial amount of payroll space given their lack of long-term commitments. Adding at least one more — and likely two more — seems like it’ll be a goal for recently extended front office tandem Derek Falvey and Thad Levine.
Some early notes in what should be a busy offseason for the Twins…
- The Twins made a multi-year offer to Yasmani Grandal last winter but aren’t expected to pursue him again this winter, Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports (subscription link). Mitch Garver’s breakout 2019 season and the continued development of prospect Ryan Jeffers has the Twins bullish on their internal catching options, even if Jeffers isn’t likely to be an option until the 2021 season. More importantly, the aforementioned needs in the rotation will take priority over sorting out who’ll share time with Garver behind the plate. Still, with Jason Castro hitting free agency and Jeffers only briefly reaching Double-A in 2019, adding a second catcher is arguably an understated need. Minnesota does have one of the game’s more unique backup options in the versatile Willians Astudillo, but “La Tortuga” batted just .268/.299/.379 in 204 plate appearances this past season (79 OPS+) and only suited up for 158 innings behind the plate. The 28-year-old Astudillo’s ability to catch and handle multiple infield/outfield positions does make him an intriguing fit as the 26th man on next year’s expanded roster.
- Also of note, Hayes writes that the Twins have some interest in bringing left-hander Martin Perez back in 2020, although clearly at a lower rate than the $7.5MM club option the team declined earlier this month. Speculatively speaking, it’d be interesting to see what the hard-throwing Perez could do in short relief stints, and the Twins don’t have much on the roster in terms of left-handed relief options beyond closer Taylor Rogers. Perez averaged 94.1 mph on his fastball as a starter in 2019 and would presumably see that velocity trend upward with a move to the bullpen.
- Odorizzi joined MLB Network’s Hot Stove show this morning to discuss his decision to accept the qualifying offer but also expressed interest in remaining with the Twins on a long-term deal (video link). “I really enjoy Minnesota,” said Odorizzi. “The people up there are fantastic. Obviously the team is really good. Our front office does a great job. Having [manager Rocco Baldelli] there is a great familiarity with me. But that’s kind of out of my control. The door is open from me, and it’s just a matter of if they want me. … I’d like to have a place where my family can settle down with me and call home, but that’s baseball — sometimes you’ve got to play it year to year and figure it out from there.”