Falvey, Levine to target starting pitching at WMs

New Twins front office leaders looking for long-term improvement

Falvey, Levine to target starting pitching at WMs

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins already solved their catching situation by signing veteran backstop Jason Castro to a three-year deal, but they have plenty more work to do at baseball's Winter Meetings, which begin next week in National Harbor, Md.

It'll be the first Winter Meetings for the new front office led by chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine. They made their first splash of the offseason in the week leading up to the Meetings, reaching an agreement with Castro, a three-year deal worth $24.5 million to replace Kurt Suzuki, according to a Major League source.

But now they'll turn their eyes to upgrading the pitching staff, as Twins starters combined to post the worst ERA in the Majors last season with only veteran right-hander Ervin Santana coming off a strong campaign. It won't be an easy fix, however, as the free-agent market for starting pitchers is considered weak. The Twins might have to get creative to acquire starters.

Hot Stove Tracker

"With pitching, you want to explore every opportunity to add talent," Falvey said. "Whether that's being opportunistic in the free-agent market or through trades or unique development philosophies, there's no one way to attack it. This year's free-agent class is a little bit lean on the pitching side."

MLB.com and MLB Network will have wall-to-wall coverage of the 2016 Winter Meetings from the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center outside Washington, D.C. Fans can watch live streaming of all news conferences and manager availability on MLB.com, including the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 8 at 8 a.m. CT.

The wild card remains whether the Twins are willing to trade second baseman Brian Dozier, who is coming off a career season and 42 homers. Dozier has two years and $15 million remaining on his contract, and he would be an attractive piece for a contending team looking for a slugging second baseman.

Given the current needs of contending clubs, however, there aren't many teams searching for a second baseman, although the prospect-rich Dodgers could be a fit. Falvey and Levine will continue to do their due diligence with Dozier, but they know how important he is to the team both as the face of the franchise and a clubhouse leader.

The front office, though, has proved it isn't sentimental, as evidenced by the surprising decision to outright long-time third baseman Trevor Plouffe off the roster last week to make room for Miguel Sano at third base.

The goal remains to build a long-term winner instead of finding short-term fixes, especially coming off a 103-loss season. So while the Twins aren't in a full-blown rebuild, they're hoping to supplement their young roster with players who will be around to help turn around the organization after their step backwards in 2016.

It could mean parting with a player such as Dozier to acquire a need such as cost-controlled pitching, and manager Paul Molitor, who will join Falvey and Levine at the Winter Meetings, said he understands taking the long view despite being in the last year of his contract.

"I don't think we can afford not to be open-minded about anything," Molitor said. "We have assets. You can debate how many. But we have big needs, too. So we have to prioritize here to build a sustainable future. We have to listen to just about anything."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com 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.