1. Starting pitching: Right-handers Ervin Santana, Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson are essentially the only three locks in next year’s rotation, and there are young candidates such as Adalberto Mejia, Stephen Gonsalves, Trevor May and Fernando Romero vying for the remaining two spots. But the Twins will be looking to add to that stable, and it’ll be interesting to see if they acquire starting pitching via free agency or trade.
• 2017 saw Twins take giant step forward
Possible FA fits: Andrew Cashner, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, Jason Vargas
2. Bullpen: Twins relievers combined to post the second-lowest strikeout-per-nine rate in the Majors and saw firsthand what a potent bullpen can do in their loss to the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game. The Twins don’t have a set closer either, and while they could turn to a youngster like Trevor Hildenberger, a veteran at the back end would make sense.
Possible FA fits: Brandon Kintzler, Bryan Shaw, Luke Gregerson, Pat Neshek, Jake McGee, Joe Smith, Steve Cishek, Belisle.
3. Right-handed bat: Positionally, the Twins are pretty much set, but could use a right-handed bat that could serve as designated hitter and play corner outfield or first base. Robbie Grossman has impressive on-base skills, but lacks power, while Kennys Vargas still hasn’t put it together at the Major League level. There’s not much right-handed power on the market outside of J.D. Martinez, who figures to be expensive, so it could come via trade.
Possible FA fits: Carlos Santana (switch-hitter), Martinez.
Backup catcher: Jason Castro was as advertised defensively, and Mitch Garver is likely to be his backup next season after an impressive year offensively at Triple-A Rochester. But the Twins valued the leadership of Chris Gimenez, who is set to be a free agent. They could bring back Gimenez or a fellow veteran backup catcher to compete with Garver in Spring Training.
How aggressive will front office be? Coming off their postseason berth, the Twins have a chance to be contenders for years to come with their young team, so it’ll be interesting to see how willing the front office will be to spend top dollar or trade top prospects to acquire top-end pitching. Falvey and Levine didn’t make any major splashes in their first offseason, outside of signing Castro, but after analyzing the organization for a year, big changes could be in store. Payroll shouldn’t be too much of an issue with the contracts of Hector Santiago ($8 million), Glen Perkins ($5.8 million), and Belisle ($2.05 million) coming off the books.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
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