Digging into the if and why the Twins could add offense on the free market.
If one were to list the things which went right during the 2012 season, that truncated list would certainly be almost exclusively offensive achievements. Joe Mauer's on-base percentage, Josh Willingham's prodigious power, and Trevor Plouffe's scintillating hot streak all come to mind.
And while the pitching looked as though it was straight out of 1995, maybe the Twins won't solely spend their budget on pitching? There are a few holes in the Twins offense to be sure; Plouffe has his struggles with righties, the bench is particularly weak, and it's hard to say what the club wants to really do regarding catcher hierarchy. Nobody right now seems like the odds-on favorite to win the second base job.
With that in mind, here are some scenarios in which the Twins could in fact add a bat this offseason:
1. To give Plouffe competition
Terry Ryan has maintained for quite some time that he'd like to give Plouffe some competition at the hot corner. And if Darren Wolfson is to be believed, his latest 'scoops' piece for 1500 suggests the Twins are looking to "add a starting third baseman." I still believe this is probably a motivational tactic for Plouffe to tighten up his defense, but at the same time, the Twins could certainly bring in competition. I've beaten the Jeff Keppinger subject to death -- though I had no part in breaking his leg -- but the market for him looks to be strong. It would seem unlikely the Twins would be in on someone like Kevin Youkilis, but maybe Eric Chavez could provide a good platoon partner? The only other options that really make sense to me are Casey McGehee, Placido Polanco, and Ty Wigginton. Not much about any of them suggests "starting third baseman" to me, but each in their own special way could provide an upgrade as a bench bat, potentially.
2. To find a starting second baseman outright
Again, Keppinger fits here. So might Polanco, though there's a good chance he's nothing more than a contact-type pinch hitter at this point in his career. The only other second sackers that might be sure-fire starters would be Kelly Johnson -- the premier keystone in this class and likely will get a bigger deal than the Twins want to hand out -- or Freddy Sanchez, who has been injury prone in recent seasons. He could be worth a look, though.
3. To get a better third catcher option
There aren't a great deal of guys available to do this. Kelly Shoppach is a guy I've thought would fit the bill pretty well, as a pretty good catch-and-throw guy who has some power. He also has hit lefties in his career quite well -- though I believe his platoon splits reversed last season -- so he could provide a nice change of pace if the boys run into a streak of southpaws. Chris Snyder, Ronny Paulino, and Miguel Olivo all headline a list of guys we've heard of, but aren't quite sure if they're any good. (Spoiler: Not really)
4. In the event of multiple trades involving outfielders
The only real way I can see this happen is if the Twins trade two of Denard Span, Ben Revere, and Josh Willingham. I don't think the club would like Darin Mastroianni starting full-time, though he is a very good fourth outfielder. If the Twins went this route and wanted a fill-in center fielder until Aaron Hicks was ready, Nyjer Morgan might be the way to go. I give this about a 0.05 percent chance of happening, though. To me, rogue TR will be trading any outfielder at all.
5. To find a bench masher
Two words: Travis Hafner. And while I know he's battled injuries and isn't the same slugger, the Twins wouldn't need him to be. If he'd sign for $3 million and garner 250-350 plate appearances, I think it's a match for both sides.
6. Just because the price is right
When the dance is nearly over and everyone's scrambling for that last partner, sometimes guys have to settle for less than their perceived worth. It happened with Joe Crede and Orlando Hudson in recent Twins history, and Kenny Rogers before that. In fact, it happens pretty much every year on a large scale. Plenty of people are getting antsy about improving this team, even though no free agents the Twins truly coveted outside of Scott Baker have signed. Waiting may be the hardest part, but it might also be the smartest. This free agent market so far has been bananas.