Thanksgiving week is upon us, and with it we draw closer to the Winter Meetings, which take place Dec. 9-12 in Orlando, Fla. At that time, player movement is expected to reach a fevered pitch, but for now all we have are a few moves here or there, and a few rumblings to go on.
Here's what I've heard, and how I feel about it:
* Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe remains insistent that the Twins are a player in the Jarrod Saltalamacchia sweepstakes. The 28-year-old Saltalamacchia is the best catcher available on the free agent market, and is coming off a really solid offensive year.
Cafardo is a reputable source, as is the Pioneer Press' Mike Berardino who has also run with it. It doesn't pass the sniff test, as the Twins still have a full complement of catchers on the 40-man and seem to like what each of them bring to the table in some way, and Salty will most certainly command the biggest free agent deal in Twins history.
Still, at three years and $30ish million, it makes considerable sense for the Twins. Saltalamacchia has the look of a classic late bloomer, and his platoon issues are limited to versus lefties, something the Twins can either a. live with as they have with countless other hitters or b. cover up by starting Ryan Doumit behind the plate every now and then.
I still wouldn't peg the chances of a deal as likely, but it'd be a ballsy move that'd show Twins fans that the club is committed to shaking it up wherever necessary to re-create a potential winning atmosphere. I'm getting more and more on board by the minute. In my view, if you can sign Phil Hughes, Scott Kazmir, and Saltalamacchia for the same AAV as two of Matt Garza, Ricky Nolasco, and Bronson Arroyo, it's a slam dunk. I think a team could get either side for $30ish million.
* A number of pitching dominoes have fallen in the past week or so, and while that's caused anguish to some Twins fans on twitter, it shouldn't have. Dan Haren and Josh Johnson both signed very reasonable one-year deals with NL West teams -- Dodgers and Padres, respectively -- in an effort to rebuild their value before heading back into the market next year. And while both of those contracts on the surface would have made sense for the Twins, it simply wasn't going to happen with either guy.
Johnson didn't give the Blue Jays the innings the Twins would have liked to have seen out of a potential signee, and he wisely chose to spend his season throwing at pitcher's paradise Petco Park. His shoulder may be a ticking time bomb, as well. Haren made it pretty clear his preference was to pitch on the West Coast, so I don't think the Twins were on his list, just as he wasn't on theirs. Sure, in a vacuum, both pitchers would have made sense for the Twins in at least some fashion, but ultimately, it just wasn't going to happen.
Other pitchers who have signed recently whom the Twins could have had varying degrees of interest in were Jason Vargas (too many years), Tim Hudson (age, likely not interested in Minnesota), and Colby Lewis (re-upped with Rangers). For varying reasons Vargas and Lewis should have been considered targets for the Twins, but it's unlikely the club even called on Hudson, who is coming off a major and quite frankly gruesome leg injury.
* The Twins added a whole pile of minor league free agents. Here's who they've signed so far, via a number of different sources, with a little bit of #analysis to go with each:
RHP Deolis Guerra (re-sign) - Good changeup, still has pretty nice potential relief future.
OF Chris Rahl - Has good power, looks like a backup OF type. Org guy at this point, probably.
SS Doug Bernier (re-sign) - He's Doug Bernier.
OF Wilkin Ramirez (re-sign) - Probably battling Darin Mastroianni for one spot, if that spot even exists.
C Eric Fryer (re-sign) - For some reason he's on the 40-man roster.
SS Jason Bartlett - Outside chance to steal playing time from Pedro Florimon, but I wouldn't count on it.
RHP Lester Oliveros (re-sign) - Second straight time Oliveros has re-sign with the Twins. Currently on way back from Tommy John surgery. Could carve out a pen role.
LHP Aaron Thompson (re-sign) - No discernible platoon splits, but fared better against righties than lefties in '13.
C/OF Dan Rohlfing (re-sign) - Hit a lot better at Triple-A than Double-A for some reason. Looks like a Dinkelman-type org. guy who'll get his shot some September. Club obviously likes him.
OF Jermaine Mitchell (re-sign) - Toolsy outfielder who for whatever reason hasn't gotten a big league shot yet at age 29. Can play center, so he offers some fourth outfielder upside. Typically has good discipline, but not at Rochester last year.
IF James Beresford (re-sign) - From all I've heard, a capable keystone defender with OBP skills but no pop to speak of.
C Jairo Rodriguez (re-sign) - Hasn't shown much, 25 and hasn't yet played above High-A. Has shown catch-and-throw skills in the past. Likely org. guy.
1B Reynaldo Rodriguez (re-sign) - Not an extraordinarily big man, but he offers big power and little else. Will be 28 in the spring.
3B Deibinson Romero (re-sign) - Had a decent year at Triple-A as a 27-year-old in 2013; could give Trevor Plouffe some third base competition. Doesn't appear to be much of a fielder, though.
Additionally, the following former Twins have found new homes: RHP P.J. Walters (Royals), LHP Pedro Hernandez (Rockies), OF Jordan Parraz (Diamondbacks), OF Antoan Richardson (Yankees), OF Clete Thomas (Phillies), IF Brendan Harris (Dodgers), Philip Humber (Athletics), and Ryan Rowland-Smith (Diamondbacks).