With the San Francisco Giants taking down the Detroit Tigers in an anticlimactic sweep to end the baseball season last night (seriously, how lame?), the off-season has officially begun. Today, free agents officially hit the market.
As of this writing all three of Scott Baker, Matt Capps, and Carl Pavano are still on the Twins' 40-man roster, but once they come off the club will be left with eight roster spots with which to work. The Twins have now officially turned down Baker's option. Right-hander P.J. Walters, who the Twins outrighted last week, has refused his minor league assignment and is now free to sign anywhere he chooses. Only 14 players on their roster will be pitchers.
This winter has a completely different aspect than the off-seasons the Twins have spun through in recent memory. There are no massive free agent decisions facing them. There are no obvious trade scenarios, although there will always be some level of speculation. This winter will be all about how the Twins see themselves and how honest they are in their vision for the future of the franchise...and, of course, whether or not they can accomplish what they believe they can and should accomplish.
For the next five days, the Twins have exclusive negotiation rights with their free agents. The only question for me at this point: will they be able to sign Baker before other teams can step in?