Twins to target bullpen help at Winter Meetings

Club pursuing options to help solidify pitching staff

Twins to target bullpen help at Winter Meetings

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been busy early this offseason, but they will be looking to bolster their pitching, especially their bullpen, when general manager Terry Ryan and his staff head to Nashville, Tenn., for next week's Winter Meetings.

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2015 Winter Meetings from the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, with the Network launching 35 hours of live Winter Meetings coverage on Sunday at 7 p.m. CT. Fans can also catch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, as well as the announcement of the Hall of Fame Pre-Integration Era Committee inductees on Monday at 10 a.m. CT and the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday at 9 a.m. CT.

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The Twins already addressed their need for catching help by trading outfielder Aaron Hicks to the Yankees for catcher John Ryan Murphy, and won the bid for Korean slugger Byung Ho Park, who is expected to be the club's everyday designated hitter.

But they still want to improve a pitching staff that finished with a 4.07 ERA that ranked as the 19th-best mark in the Majors. Twins relievers combined to post a 3.95 ERA that ranked 21st in baseball and were last with 392 strikeouts in 515 innings. So upgrading the bullpen remains a priority for the Twins.

"We have some things there we need to address," Ryan said. "That's one area that I want to look at, for sure."

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The Twins are coming off a surprising season that saw them post their first winning record since 2010, as they went 83-79 and weren't eliminated from postseason contention until the second-to-last day of the season.

But the Twins also seemed to overachieve, as they were 12th in the Majors in runs scored, while also ranking in the middle of the pack among advanced defensive metrics. So while the Twins have a young core and believe they're back on track after four years of struggles, they also don't plan to stand pat and are looking to build on 2015.

"We had a nice group come along here that contributed to a club that was in this thing, and, for the most part, they helped us and didn't hinder our ability to compete," Ryan said. "So 83 wins is nice, but we're looking for more next year."

The Twins aren't likely to make a splash for a position player despite losing Torii Hunter to retirement and Hicks via the trade for Murphy. They have plenty of options in the outfield, including youngsters Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler as well as Miguel Sano, who is expected to be moved to the outfield if the Twins decide to keep third baseman Trevor Plouffe.

Plouffe still could be traded to make room for Sano, but the Twins have indicated they're looking to keep Plouffe, which would mean Sano will move to the outfield. But if the Twins do trade Plouffe, it'll likely be for pitching help.

As it stands, the Twins have roughly $100 million in payroll commitments headed into next year, but Ryan has maintained payroll is not an issue. He knows it won't be cheap to upgrade pitching via free agency, but that's the way it's always been.

"Everybody's trying to accumulate talented people on a pitching staff," Ryan said. "It's up to you what you want to spend. If you don't like it, don't spend it. If you do, go get it. That's about how anybody would approach it."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.