Twins in no rush at Winter Meetings
GM Ryan doesn't plan to deal for the sake of dealing
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's that time of the year once again, when the questions start centering on, "Will they or won't they make a deal?"As Twins representatives prepare to attend the annual Winter Meetings from Dec. 4-7 in Orlando, Fla., fans wonder what the team will be able to accomplish during the wheeling and dealing. But while many teams use this four-day event to make big trades or signings, the Twins have yet to make a significant move in the past three years during these Winter Meetings. And in another year of pricey free agents, it seems that some teams, like the Twins, must now resort to alternate plans to fill their openings. Twins general manager Terry Ryan recognizes there are still holes remaining in the Twins' roster. But Ryan knows that with the high-priced deals many players have already received this offseason, the club is taking a back seat for now to see what transpires. "I'm kind of waiting for the dust to settle a little bit," Ryan said. Overall, it's been a pretty quiet Hot Stove season for the Twins, who are coming off their fourth division title in the past five seasons under manager Ron Gardenhire. For Ryan, this quiet period is made easier, considering that he doesn't believe the team has too many needs to address. "I'm thankful we don't have huge, gaping holes," Ryan said. "We have some areas of concern, but nothing gaping." Last year at this time, the Twins' goal was to acquire more offense, but clearly the main concern heading into 2007 is adding depth to the starting rotation. Exactly how the team will do that, though, has yet to be determined. The Twins have not been known to scour the free agent market, and many of the Twins' options in this year's group have already been signed by other teams. Left-hander Randy Wolf was signed to a one-year deal with the Dodgers while right-hander Adam Eaton just inked a three-year deal with the Phillies. It appears instead that to get pitching, the Twins might have to focus on trades. One name that has been mentioned in trade discussions is that of Colorado right-hander Jason Jennings. The 2002 National League Rookie of the Year would fit the profile of what the Twins are looking for, but whether he will be available depends on whether the Rockies can sign the pitcher to a multi-year deal.
Ryan didn't get into any specifics in terms of names that have been thrown around, but with all of the recent signings, the Twins GM said he didn't feel like he had any regrets about remaining quiet."Right now I haven't seen where there is an ideal fit, with some of the things that have gone on," Ryan said. "The signings that have gone on, there have been some players that have been attractive, but when you look at some of the things about these signings, I haven't been disappointed yet on losing out on someone." Last year, Minnesota attempted to fill the voids in its lineup with some low-cost free agents, and the results weren't exactly a roaring success. Third baseman Tony Batista lasted just two months, and the club had troubles with two candidates for the designated hitter role as Ruben Sierra was gone by the All-Star break after playing just 14 games and Rondell White had to overcome struggles that hindered him for the entire first half of the season. The Twins' greatest need, besides pitching, once again appears to be that designated hitter spot. White could be brought back after showing glimpses of his potential late in the season, but Ryan still has yet to comment on whether that will happen. And left field is another area that the team could address, with the Twins unlikely to bring back Shannon Stewart. But while it's been a long time since the Twins have done anything at these meetings, there are many who believe the foundations for trades were laid during the general manager meetings earlier in November. White Sox general manager Kenny William has been quoted as saying that those meetings were more active than in the past, so there are some who wonder if that will extend to this next set of meetings. For Ryan, he's not so sure. "I don't see where it's going to be much different than in previous years," Ryan said of the Winter Meetings. "There will be some trades and still be some signings. This is just normal activity in the month of November." That also means little activity for the Twins, as usual, but Ryan doesn't feel like it's a necessity to speed up that process anytime soon. Though there is a chance for the Twins to get something going at these meetings, Ryan said he isn't about to make a deal just for the sake of doing so. "As long as we come out of Spring Training feeling good about this club, that's about the timeframe I'm on," Ryan said. "I don't worry much about the winter months. It's more what you leave Spring Training and what you look like when you depart there that's important."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.