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Late Offseason Free Agent Ideas

Spring training is upon us and the Twins are gearing up for the 2014 season. Although they're likely done shopping, perhaps there's still a few players available that could help the team this year.

Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly the Twins seem just about set with their roster and preseason competitions. Catcher is likely between Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto. Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, and Trevor Plouffe almost certainly round out the infield, though I bet some people would love to see Miguel Sano make a strong showing in spring training. As for the outfield, we see Josh Willingham and Oswaldo Arcia most likely manning the corners, with center field being a toss-up between Alex Presley, Aaron Hicks, and perhaps even Darin Mastroianni. Designated hitter seems to be Jason Kubel's to lose.

As for the pitching staff, there's more bodies than spots right now. The rotation starts with Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correia, and Mike Pelfrey, with Kyle Gibson, Scott Diamond, Vance Worley, and Sam Deduno fighting for the 5th spot. The losers from that competition may end up in the bullpen, which is already full with Brian Duensing, Anthony Swarzak, Casey Fien, Jared Burton, and Glen Perkins set, along with Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly, and Michael Tonkin deserving of roster spots as well.

Despite all this assurance that the roster is practically set, it doesn't mean that the Twins should be satisfied. There is still plenty of room for improvement. For some, the improvement will come simply by being patient, such as awaiting Miguel Sano's arrival, or hoping that Aaron Hicks figures it out in his second attempt in the majors (or perhaps even for Byron Buxton's promotion). But for others, there's no obvious replacement in the organization that is guaranteed to be better. Thus, I will float some ideas of remaining free agents that the Twins could sign to make some final upgrades. I'd like to point out that I tried to keep the free agent list realistic (there's no reason the Twins should sign Nelson Cruz or Kendrys Morales) so don't lose your minds when you see those two omitted here.

Stephen Drew (SS)

I'm not going to beat this drum too much again, but I simply am not enamored with Pedro Florimon and I see Drew as a much better shortstop, especially on the offensive side. Unfortunately he has the loss of a draft pick tied to him, and I think indications are becoming clear that the Twins would not part with that pick, at least this year.

Chris Capuano (SP)

Yes, the last thing the Twins need are more mediocre starting pitchers. However, let's just say one of the top four starters suffers a serious injury (i.e. tears an elbow ligament, as pitchers often do). The Twins could just turn to the Worley/Diamond/Gibson group, or they could go and sign Capuano. Issues with this move would be that Capuano's never been in the American League before, and also it blocks someone like Gibson from his first opportunity to be in the majors for 2014. On the other hand, Capuano also would have the second best career strikeout rate in the Twins rotation, just barely behind Phil Hughes. Let that sink in for a minute.

Johan Santana (SP)

You know why.

Oliver Perez (RP)

Once upon a time, Oliver Perez had a great season with the Pittsburgh Pirates as a starting pitcher. He later was handed a terrible contract by the New York Mets, who were rewarded with one good year, one decent year, and two awful ones. He did not pitch in the majors in 2011, but has re-emerged as a reliever the past two years with the Seattle Mariners. If you don't trust Caleb Thielbar as a second lefty in the bullpen, nor do you want to throw Edgar Ibarra or Logan Darnell into the fire, Perez would be a good fallback option.

Cristhian Martinez (RP)

Martinez quietly put together two solid years in the Braves bullpen from 2011-2012, but then was hit with shoulder surgery last year and missed most of the season. He's a definite risk because of his recovery, but he has had good control over his career and has succeeded with an excellent change-up despite hitting only about 90 MPH with his fastball. He'd seem like a candidate for a minor league contract and a midseason call-up.