Every offseason, there's a list of teams we always assume will attract the biggest free agents. There are certainly surprises here and there, but the biggest names are almost always connected to teams like the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs, among others.
One team that is not generally a part of that club would be the Twins, who have long been among the smaller market teams in the league. Well, things are different this year, as Thad Levine has made it clear Minnesota is not going to sit back and relax this year. Instead, you can expect them to go hard after pitching help on the open market this winter.
It's been a strange couple of years for the Twins, who have been on something of a roller coaster. After four down years of rebuilding for an organization that was startlingly consistent over the course of the 2000s, Minnesota surprised everyone with an 83-win season in 2015 in which they remained in the postseason conversation for much longer than anyone expected. That led many to believe 2016 could be the year they take the leap. Instead, they fell way back and lost 103 games. Once again, they were off the map heading into 2017, but a strong offensive core led by Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Brian Dozier led the Twins to 85 wins and a wild card game berth.
With an impressive young core set in the lineup, it's no surprise the focus will be on pitching this winter. What is a surprise is the Twins are focusing on the biggest names.
Levine has stated the team plans to pursue Shohei Ohtani as well as Yu Darvish. These are the two top starters on the market this year, and not the types of players the Twins generally target in free agency. They could also be involved in trade talks for pitchers like Gerrit Cole or Jake Odorizzi. It's not clear what the Twins will end up doing this year, but the fact they're involved in these conversations is a story in and of itself.
- As Ohtani's free agent market can finally start picking up, the Japanese superstar is asking MLB teams to let him know what they can provide.
- Jake Arrieta is another of the top pitchers on the market, and there is no shortage of suitors for the former Cubs ace.
- Doug Fister wasn't exactly a headliner of the free agent market, but he's the first pitcher to find a new home after signing a one-year deal with the Rangers.
- There are rumors that the Nationals could be interested in a reunion with Jordan Zimmermann. Does that really make sense?
- The Braves just lost a whole lot of prospects as the league brought the hammer down on Atlanta's organization. Here are the minor leaguers of interest.
- The Yankees had an unstable bullpen last year despite a multitude of talent. Don't expect that to remain the case in 2018.
- Arizona had success using Archie Bradley out of the bullpen, and they could look to that road again with a glut of starting pitching talent in the high minors.
- Former No. 1-overall pick Mark Appel is available on waivers, and the Tigers should pounce all over that.
- Oakland has a history of taking big risks and having them pay off. Miles Mikolas could be that next risk.