Twins open to adding veteran for young clubhouse

Twins open to adding veteran for young clubhouse

MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite the stereotype that analytically-driven front offices value numbers over the human element, new Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine both said improving clubhouse chemistry is one of their goals heading into next season.

Falvey, in his nine years with the Indians, and Levine, during 11 seasons with the Rangers, both saw firsthand the value of clubhouse leadership. Falvey credited veteran leaders such as Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis for helping Cleveland stay loose on its run to the World Series this year, while Levine mentioned players like Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Darren Oliver and Colby Lewis as veteran leaders that led Texas to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010-11.

"I think it's imperative as you're building a team to complement your younger players with a sense of leadership," Levine said. "The season is really challenging. The guy who can stand up and put a stop to a two or three-game losing streak is invaluable."

Falvey is also quite familiar with the inner-workings of a clubhouse, as he acted as the liaison between the front office and the coaching staff as Cleveland's assistant general manager. He spent plenty of time in the clubhouse, working closely with manager Terry Francona and pitching coach Mickey Callaway.

The Indians dealt with their share of adversity this year, including injuries to Carlos Carrasco, Danny Salazar and Michael Brantley, but Falvey said the club's leadership and resilience is what helped it nearly win the World Series before ultimately falling in Game 7.

"I think this year, at least from my standpoint in Cleveland, it was a culmination of an interesting group of guys with different personalities who all genuinely believed they could pull their end of the rope," Falvey said. "I know that clubhouse chemistry, the culture and the quality of that bond is essential to getting a team to where you want to be in a World Series."

The Twins lamented a lack of leadership in their 103-loss season, especially after veteran outfielder Torii Hunter retired before the season. The Twins won 24 fewer games last season than they did in 2015, and while it's impossible to measure exactly how much of an effect the loss of Hunter's presence hurt the team, manager Paul Molitor and several key players pointed to it as an issue throughout the year.

Minnesota does have leaders in their clubhouse like Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and Ervin Santana, but they're not as vocal as Hunter. So while the Twins won't add a player just for the sake of leadership if they can't help the team on the field, a veteran presence is something they'll have their eyes on this offseason, especially with such a young clubhouse.

"It's a real investment this organization can make wherever you can find it," Levine said. "It can make a meaningful difference."

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.