The Minnesota Twins and Free Agents: A Handicapper's Guide

Spitting on the mound nearest you? Maybe. - Ronald Martinez

Warne handicaps with his uneducated opinion the most likely free agent signings for the Twins at a number of positions.

It's a little-known fact that free agency is open right now. In fact, it's much the same as a convenience store at three in the morning. The only transactions have been sparse, and for odd things. Ruben Tejada's over in the corner complaining to the cops because someone looked at him funny.

This is how I imagine the Holiday Station north of Target Field to be.

And so, since the witching hour of free agency isn't yet upon us, and players have yet to begin moving freely between clubs, we still have time to handicap this offseason for the Twins a little bit.

The following are the positions the Twins should likely look to improve in some way, shape or form, and the order of players by likelihood they'll end up in Twinstripes -- per uneducated hypothesizing from yours truly.

Catcher

1. A.J. Pierzynski
2. Jose Molina
3. John Buck
4. Ramon Hernandez
5. Kurt Suzuki
Brief Breakdown: I absolutely don't see the Twins in on Brian McCann, and ditto that for Jarrod Saltalamacchia. A reunion with Pierzynski makes some sense, though if the Twins want someone who can truly do something different than Pinto, a defensive-minded guy like Molina might be a better move. If the Twins think Pinto isn't very far along in his development, they still will have to add someone with Doumit's concussion history, ostensibly. There are lots of variables in play here. A Doumit/Pinto platoon *could* make sense, too. (Note: Carlos Ruiz re-signed with the Phillies on Monday, so he's out.)
Also-Rans: Kelly Shoppach, Dioner Navarro.

Corner Infielder (Most Likely, Third Base)

1. Jeff Baker
2. Casey McGehee
3. Kevin Youkilis
4. Eric Chavez
5. Ty Wigginton
Brief Breakdown: Baker can play multiple positions, and actually hit quite well in 2013. Chavez makes the most possible sense, if the Twins were willing to platoon with Trevor Plouffe. Youkilis would be the likely target if any money was really thrown around, but most likely the Twins would look to a minor league free agent flier type here. McGehee might fit the bill, then. Reynolds carries the most intrigue solely on the power of his bat. It's pretty hard to put any of these guys ahead of the others, so don't take the rankings too seriously on this one. It would be wise to sign one of them, however.
Also-Rans: Mark Reynolds, Michael Young, Chad Tracy, Justin Morneau

Middle Infielder (Most Likely, Shortstop)

1. Ryan Roberts
2. John McDonald
3. Rafael Furcal
4. Clint Barmes
5. Robert Andino
Brief Breakdown: Roberts can't play short, but the Twins could have some use for a guy who can do 2B-3B. Pretty much everyone else is a defense-first utility player. The Twins' level of confidence in Eduardo Escobar will shape how they view the middle infield market.
Also-Rans: Jamey Carroll, Alexi Casilla

Outfield (Most Likely, Someone Who Can Handle Center or Start in a Corner)

1. David Murphy
2. Michael Morse
3. Franklin Gutierrez
4. Grady Sizemore
5. Andres Torres
Brief Breakdown: A lot of this will hinge on if Josh Willingham plays outfield, or if he is a DH. Because they probably have to sign at least one hitter with Willingham, Doumit, and [INSERT FA HERE] manning left, DH, catcher, and all that. If they sign a backup type, it'd be a fourth guy who can handle center who would likely push Darin Mastroianni off the roster. I'm not sure I see that happening, but weirder things have occurred. Another option is a flier on a guy like Gutierrez or Sizemore.
Also-Rans: Brennan Boesch, Rajai Davis, Jason Kubel, Laynce Nix, Roger Bernadina, Jeff Francoeur

Starting Pitcher (Most Likely, Someone)

1. Bronson Arroyo
2. Ricky Nolasco
3. Phil Hughes
4. Matt Garza
5. Scott Kazmir
Brief Breakdown: It's no secret that the Twins need to add starting pitching, and they've already been linked to some of the bigger names on the market. Arroyo still seems to fit the Twins' prototype -- durable, dependable, on the cheaper side of top pitchers -- but he's in his upper-30s and wouldn't be much help in the next playoff run. The next four are all in their early 30s or younger, and each have their benefits and drawbacks. Kazmir might be the most intriguing from a boom-or-bust standpoint. Don't be surprised if/when the Twins are tied to nearly all of these pitchers at some point this offseason. Hopefully, they'll pull at least one, if not two.
Also-Rans: Scott Feldman, Chris Capuano, Gavin Floyd, Jason Hammel, Jeff Karstens, Colby Lewis, Johan Santana, Mike Pelfrey, Ryan Vogelsong, Jason Vargas, Jake Westbrook, Suk-Min Yoon

As an astute reader can probably see, there is no header for relievers, and not much in the way of first and second basemen. The Twins have never been much of a player on the relief market -- other than minor league free agents -- and Joe Mauer and Brian Dozier would seem to have their respective positions sewn up. Feel free to add you comments and disagreements below!

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