Twins confident, patient at GM Meetings

Pitching takes focus as Minnesota looks to build on AL Wild Card finish

Twins confident, patient at GM Meetings

ORLANDO, Fla. -- Relative to last offseason, the Minnesota Twins' timeline to compete in the American League Central has been accelerated by two fundamental factors.

"One is our team had a really nice performance in 2017, which gives us confidence we might be a little bit further ahead than we expected," Minnesota general manager Thad Levine said Monday at the General Managers Meetings. "And two, that in this moment in time we have three teams in our division who are retooling or full-fledged rebuilding.

"Those are windows you want to take advantage of as best you can. For those reasons, we are trying to focus a little bit more on near-term decisions. Nothing that would be just exclusive for [next season], but something to help us the next couple of years."

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The young Twins squad surprised many by claiming the second American League Wild Card spot this season. With the team already being a little more advanced on the offensive side, the needs this offseason in that area are not as immediate.

"We look and say that's what we are capable of," said Levine of the team's strong offensive finish. "It doesn't mean you are entitled to experience that walking into 2018. Our focus will not be taking things for granted.

"When relying on a wealth of young players like we are, there's going to be some fluctuation in their performance. That's where we would be open-minded to augmenting that unit and not just assuming everyone is going to take that step forward."

Twins look to contend in 2018

Nonetheless, the Twins' focus will be pitching: both starters and relievers, from a qualitative and depth standpoint. They will do their diligence on all options available and "not assume we are out of any markets," Levine added.

"For our market, we are always going to look from within," Levine said. "That's where our emphasis always will be, player development and scouting. With that being said, at this moment in time we are pretty blessed with a lot of financial flexibility, in that the lion's share of our existing contracts expire either after '18 or '19. If we made an investment this offseason, we would have the latitude to do that."

Catching stood as an immediate need for the Twins last offseason, and with the market not being robust, they were a little more aggressive on Jason Castro and his three-year, $24.5 million free-agent deal. But with the team's needs being pitching and a larger pool of players to draw from, they can be a little more patient.

"If we find the right guy at the right value, we can strike soon," Levine said. "But we are not going to strike soon just for the sake of doing that."

Mark Feinsand is a reporter for

Scott Merkin has covered the White Sox for since 2003. Read his blog, Merk's Works, follow him on Twitter @scottmerkin, on Facebook and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.