MINNEAPOLIS -- With the 2014 season in the rearview mirror after the completion of the World Series on Wednesday night, it's now Hot Stove season for the Twins and 29 other clubs.
But with a young roster and several other top prospects on the way, the Twins aren't expected to be big players in free agency, which officially begins Monday at 11:01 p.m. CT. They could look for trades to bolster their roster, especially their rotation, as improving their pitching remains their top priority this offseason.
Twins starters combined to post the worst ERA in the Majors for the third time in four years en route to a fourth straight season with at least 90 losses. So the club will undoubtedly be on the lookout for rotation help this offseason.
Twins general manager Terry Ryan has maintained that payroll isn't an issue, but with seven players eligible for arbitration, the club's payroll is expected to be above $80 million without any offseason additions. Minnesota had an $86 million payroll last year and the Twins aren't likely to go too much higher than that figure.
The Twins declined right-handed reliever Jared Burton's $3.6 million option Oct. 22, making him a free agent after a $200,000 buyout. Burton is the club's lone free agent and isn't expected to re-sign with Minnesota this offseason.
The Twins will likely add at least one starter, as improving the rotation remains the club's biggest challenge. Minnesota is also seeking to upgrade its bullpen, but it'll look at low-cost relief options. The club could also add an outfielder, but is unlikely to add any notable infield or catching help.
An ace such as Jon Lester, Max Scherzer or James Shields would go a long way in fixing Minnesota's rotation issues, but the Twins aren't likely to spend that kind of money this offseason. They're more likely to go after starters in the next tier, such as Brandon McCarthy or Jason Hammel. They could also look for a reunion with former Twins outfielder Michael Cuddyer, who is a free agent, and would bring a veteran voice to the clubhouse.
The Twins have one of the best farm systems in baseball and have several trade chips as a result. But top prospects such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer are essentially untouchable, as they're expected to be a major part of the future for Minnesota. The Twins, though, don't have many tradable assets on their Major League roster unless they decide to move a young position player such as Aaron Hicks or Oswaldo Arcia. Third baseman Trevor Plouffe is another trade candidate, especially with Sano on the way.
The Twins will continue to try to bolster their rotation, but won't break the bank this offseason in their quest for their first winning record since 2010.