SAN DIEGO — Minnesota Twins officials spent the better part of this week holed up in suites at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego, meeting with agents and teams, with a view of the Pacific Ocean in the background.
The Twins weren’t one of the teams making news at MLB’s Winter Meetings. They made two previously reported moves — re-signing starter Michael Pineda and signing catcher Alex Avila — official during the week, but otherwise did not add to the current roster.
And they’re OK with that — at least for now.
“I would say that we’ve had a lot of conversations with different people, mostly agents, and then some clubs. But I would say that we feel we made good progress in terms of just understanding a little bit more of where the market is,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said Thursday. “We’ve had some situations come and go that ended up not being fits for our team, but I would say we feel pretty good.”
Though many fans on social media have bemoaned the team’s lack of moves while big-name players like Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg and Anthony Rendon signed elsewhere this week, Falvey said he didn’t feel any disappointment leaving San Diego without a move completed.
“It’s obviously a central moment for the baseball offseason, but I think at the same time, sometimes momentum towards things can be alluring but not necessarily the way you should be thinking about it,” he said. “You should be, hopefully, making decisions that you think are the best decisions for your team, whether you’re in your office back in the Twin Cities or you’re here. You should just approach it the same way, so I don’t feel any differently.”
The Twins leave San Diego with their primary need still being starting pitching. They are also in the market for a reliever and could use a corner infielder after they non-tendered C.J. Cron earlier this month.
Madison Bumgarner and Hyun-Jin Ryu are two of the top names remaining on the starting pitching market, but their services will be in high demand and won’t come cheap, especially if the teams that lost out on Cole jump into the fray.
Though the Twins still have clear needs to fill, they have plenty of offseason to do it. With the speed at which the market has been moving this season, Falvey said he would like to be done making moves when spring training rolls around in February, unlike the past two years when the market was much slower.
“I like the idea of rolling in on Feb. 1 to Fort Myers, just focusing on what’s happening in Fort Myers. I would prefer that, all else equal,” Falvey said. “Last couple of years, whether it was Marwin (Gonzalez) or Lance (Lynn) the year before or the Jake Odorizzi trade, I’ve been on the phone as we’re opening spring training, still talking about ways to add to our team. If that’s the way it has to be, that’s the way it has to be. But I’d prefer to be focused a little more internally come February.”
Another point of focus for the Twins during these Winter Meetings has been working on coaching staff replacements. The Twins lost three coaches from their major league staff and have replaced just one so far, promoting Edgar Varela into the open hitting coach position.
Bench coach Derek Shelton left to become the manager of the Pirates, and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner is now the Mets’ pitching coach. Those two roles remain open, but Falvey said that was a “key initiative” for them as they got together at the Winter Meetings with manager Rocco Baldelli and others.
With the Winter Meetings behind them, Twins staff will return to Minnesota with coaching staff positions to be filled and more moves to be made in the upcoming months before reporting to Fort Myers in February.
“We have a lot of our winter to work through some other pieces,” Falvey said. “I feel really good about a lot of the guys that are on our team. We brought back a lot of what we already had, but I think there’s still some work to be done.”
The Twins did not make a selection in either portion of the Rule 5 draft Thursday. Though they didn’t lose anybody in the major league phase, they did lose two players in the minor league portion.
Infielder Brian Schales, the Twins’ fourth-round draft pick in 2014, was claimed by the Detroit Tigers. Schales hit .188 between Fort Myers, Pensacola and Rochester last season.
The Twins also lost pitcher Andriu Marin, who spent last season at rookie-level Elizabethton, to the Texas Rangers. Marin posted a 5.92 earned-run average in 11 games with E-Town last season.