Things moved a bit more on Tuesday after the confusion of Monday, with the Diamondbacks severely overpaying for Shelby Miller and the Yankees shifting a couple of parts to the Cubs to land Starlin Castro. The Cubs then turned around and signed Ben Zobrist. For the Twins nothing concrete occurred, outside of the re-signing of minor league infielder James Beresford.
Brian Duensing and Blaine Boyer not expected to return
Boyer had publicly acknowledged his interest in returning to Minnesota, and it turns out that Terry Ryan did call Duensing last week to ask him for use of his number for Byung Ho Park, but for most people the departure of both pitchers was a foregone conclusion. Boyer, who signed a minor league contract last spring, gave the Twins 65 innings of 2.49-ERA baseball; Duensing, who has been in the organization for a decade and started the club's last playoff game, posted a 4.25 ERA in 48.2 innings.
The peripheral statistics tell a more complete story for both players. Only Joe Beimel (another former Twin, who regularly makes our All Ex-Twins team in the autumn) had a lower strikeout rate among relievers in baseball. Fielding Independent Pitching measured Boyer at a far more pedestrian 4.00 mark, but it went even further with Duensing at 5.02. Neither player would be likely to be as effective as they were in 2015. Minnesota needs more reliable arms, even in middle relief.
Interestingly, Deunsing's departure marks the end of the Chuck Knoblauch string.
Left-handed relievers remain the focus
There are no new names to note in regards to Minnesota's targets here. Tony Sipp and Antonio Bastardo should be options 1A and 1B - something I'll say later this morning in our Winter Meetings podcast - with fallback options including Matt Thornton and Neal Cotts.
Logan Darnell, Ryan O'Rourke, and Taylor Rogers are left-handers on the Twins' 40-man roster. If worse comes to worse, they'll enter spring training in competition for one or two bullpen roles between them. But Minnesota doesn't want that to happen, which is the right attitude for a club that plans on contending in 2016.
Outfield depth a secondary objective
While the club remains focused on relief help, Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor have also acknowledged the need for a fourth outfielder. Rajai Davis is in the conversation, but Davis would no doubt prefer to start and may not see Minnesota as an ideal landing spot. Craig Gentry, my new Peter Bourjos, is definitely still available. I don't see the Twins as being a fit for a Ben Revere return.
Arizona Fall League stars
Outfielder Daniel Palka, who the Twins received from Arizona in return for Chris Herrmann, and right-hander Nick Burdi were named to the AFL's top prospects team. Burdi struck out 11 and walked one in eight innings and eight appearances, not allowing a run and posting a 0.80 WHIP. Palka hit .278/.330/.444 with three home runs, six doubles, eight walks ant 19 strikeouts in 22 games.
That's where we'll start things this morning. We'll see you back here throughout the day for updates, and episode four of the podcast will be up soon.