Minnesota could seek upgrade in center with Santana moving to short
By Rhett Bollinger
SAN DIEGO -- It was a quiet first day of the Winter Meetings for the Twins, but it doesn't mean general manager Terry Ryan and his staff weren't busy.
Ryan met with several agents throughout the day and also engaged other clubs in potential trade talks, as the Twins remain on the lookout for pitching. Ryan said he's been in serious talks about acquiring pitching via free agency and trades, but said it's hard to say if a deal is imminent.
"It's as close as the next phone call but it could also be as close as next month," Ryan said. "It's tough to gauge. But we've been busy today. We talked to clubs today, too, so it was a pretty good combination."
Ryan wasn't coy when asked what he's looking for at the Winter Meetings, as the club's biggest need is an obvious one with Minnesota finishing second-to-last in the Majors in ERA last season.
"Pitching -- period," Ryan said. "Both starting pitching and relief."
Ryan also said he's not afraid to sign a player who is tied to Draft pick compensation, as the club would only lose a second-rounder.
"It's not going to scare us off depending on the years and the dollars," Ryan said. "Qualifying-offer guys don't scare us."
The Twins also could look to make an upgrade in center field now that new manager Paul Molitor said Monday that he plans on moving Danny Santana back to his natural shortstop position this season.
Aaron Hicks and Jordan Schafer are the only two center fielders on the roster, but the Twins did sign former Cardinals outfielder Shane Robinson to a Minor League deal with an invite to Spring Training.
"I think we're OK there but I'm not going to say we're going to turn our back on any position," Ryan said. "We're hoping that we've got enough. If we don't do something about center field, we're OK with it, but Hicks has to respond and Schafer has to continue to grow."
The only roster move the Twins made Monday was creating a roster spot by losing first baseman Chris Colabello via waivers to the Blue Jays. They now have one open spot on their 40-man roster, but it allows them to take a selection in Thursday's Rule 5 Draft.
But while Colabello left for Toronto, Ryan said he's staying put. The Blue Jays are reportedly looking to find a replacement for longtime club president and chief executive officer Paul Beeston, and Ryan's name surfaced as a candidate. But Ryan said he's not going anywhere.
"The situation caught me off-guard because I didn't know anything about it and all of sudden it started to get legs, but I'm a GM and a baseball guy so I'm not sure the business side is anything I'm qualified for," Ryan said. "But I'm very humbled to hear my name was thrown into that. But you don't have to worry about me going to Toronto."
Ryan also knows he can receive some help this offseason from Molitor, as he's willing to make recruiting pitches like he did for Torii Hunter, who signed with the Twins last week. It's the first Winter Meetings for Molitor, who said it's been a learning experience to sit in on the organization's meetings.
"I think that from what I've seen the first day and a half here, we've obviously had a lot of meetings with a lot of agents about a lot of people," Molitor said. "When we start floating offers and people know that we're serious, then it might get to that point, but it hasn't yet."