Arms, backstop top Twins' wish list heading into free agency

Minnesota's new brain trust facing a weak talent market

Arms, backstop top Twins' wish list heading into free agency

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a new front office led by former Indians assistant general manager Derek Falvey and former Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine, the Twins head into free agency looking to improve a team that lost a Major League-worst 103 games in 2016.

Fixing the rotation is the club's top priority -- especially after Twins starters combined to post a 5.39 ERA, which ranked last in the Majors. Minnesota will also look to give manager Paul Molitor an upgrade at catcher and could look to improve the bullpen, as well.

Hot Stove Tracker

It's hard to predict exactly what the new front office will do this offseason, especially with what is considered a weak free-agent class. But the Twins are looking to get back on track after losing at least 90 games in five of the last six seasons. Here's a look at what the Twins could do in free agency.

Free agents: C Kurt Suzuki

Arbitration eligible: 3B Trevor Plouffe, SS Eduardo Escobar, LHP Hector Santiago, RHP Kyle Gibson, RHP Ryan Pressly, RHP Brandon Kintzler

Biggest potential FA loss: Suzuki is the lone free agent for the Twins, as his 2017 option didn't vest because he didn't reach 485 plate appearances last season. Suzuki, 33, isn't expected to return. But the Twins are in the market for a starting catcher -- especially after John Ryan Murphy struggled in his first season in Minnesota, after being traded from the Yankees.

Suzuki's three-run homer

Potential FA targets: The Twins desperately need starting pitching, but there's a weak crop of starters available on the free-agent market. There are no aces, as the top pitchers include the likes of Jeremy Hellickson, Ivan Nova and Rich Hill. Doug Fister could be a buy-low candidate, after a down year with the Astros. As for catchers, Wilson Ramos and Matt Wieters are the best available. But a reunion with Ramos, who started his career in Minnesota, doesn't appear likely. Other veteran backstops on the market include Alex Avila, Jason Castro, Hank Conger, Wilin Rosario, Chris Iannetta and Jarrod Saltalamacchia.

Wild card scenario: The biggest wild card for the Twins is whether second baseman Brian Dozier is traded. Dozier is coming off a career year that saw him hit 42 homers, plus he has two years and $15 million left on his contract. So he'd have plenty of value and could bring back much-needed pitching to the organization. But Dozier is also the club's best player and has become a face of the franchise, so it would be a signal the Twins don't plan to compete in 2017 if he's moved.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. 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.