MINNEAPOLIS -- As always, there's set to be plenty of new faces for the Twins when they head down to Fort Myers, Fla., for Spring Training.
But for the Twins, not all of those faces are unfamiliar: Hall of Famer Paul Molitor remains in the organization as the club's new manager to replace Ron Gardenhire, and veteran Torii Hunter is returning to Minnesota after a seven-year absence. The Twins spent a combined $67.7 million on three free agents this offseason, and here's a look at those New Guys in Part II of MLB.com's Spring Training preview for the Twins.
RF Torii Hunter: It's a homecoming for Hunter, who spent the first 11 years of his career with the Twins from 1997-2007, before returning to Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $10.5 million. Hunter will bring much-needed clubhouse leadership to a young club and can serve as a mentor to players such as Aaron Hicks and Byron Buxton, but he is also still an offensive threat. The 39-year-old hit .286/.319/.446 with 17 homers, 33 doubles and 83 RBIs in 142 games with the Tigers last season. His defense in right field has fallen off the last few years, according to advanced defensive metrics, but Hunter and the Twins believe he's capable of playing a solid right field.
RHP Ervin Santana: After Twins starters combined to finish with the highest ERA in the Majors last year, the Twins were set on upgrading their rotation this offseason and made a splash by signing Santana to a four-year deal worth $55 million. Santana, 32, brings a track record of success and durability, as he's averaged 31 starts and 199 innings over the last seven seasons to go along with a 3.94 ERA. Santana figures to slide in as the club's No. 2 starter behind Phil Hughes, who also received a three-year, $42 million extension this offseason through the 2019 season.
RHP Tim Stauffer: Stauffer gives the Twins flexibility, as the right-hander has experience both as a starter and a reliever. Stauffer, 32, pitched mostly in relief for the Padres the last two seasons, posting a 3.63 ERA with 131 strikeouts in 134 innings. He'll head to Spring Training competing for the final spot in the rotation along with Tommy Milone, Mike Pelfrey, Trevor May and Alex Meyer, but he is more likely to open the year in the bullpen. Stauffer could serve as a long reliever and occasional spot starter much like Anthony Swarzak's previous role, but he could also get some chances as a setup reliever.