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Twins' pitching Plan A might have to change this offseason

La Velle E. Neal III, Star Tribune (Minneapolis) on

Published in Baseball

The Twins might have to adjust.

The goal of the AL Central Division champions, entering the offseason, was clearly to upgrade the starting rotation.

They got Jake Odorizzi to accept a one-year, $17.8 million deal on a qualifying offer, keeping him with fellow All-Star Jose Berrios.

But so far, they have been unable to land the impact starter they seek. After a $100 million offer to Zack Wheeler fell short, they brought back Michael Pineda on a two-year, $20 million deal that gives them three-fifths of a rotation -- once Pineda returns from serving the final 39 days of his suspension.

As the winter meetings begin Monday in San Diego, the Twins are running out of pitching options on the free-agent market. They might have to shift strategy and add more offense to a team that set a major league record with 307 home runs last season.

Improving the rotation is still priority No. 1, and there will be talks with agents and clubs with that goal in mind. But if that doesn't work out ... remember a comment General Manager Thad Levine made shortly after the Twins were ousted from the postseason, a quote looking more prescient by the day.

 

"The one thing we've learned over the years is that you can't just have a Plan A," Levine said. "Tomorrow's Plan?B becomes the next day's Plan A, so we are going to lay out a lot of different scenarios, a lot of situations where we can try to address some of the deficiencies on our team, but we're never going to stay true and married to just one plan."

In recent weeks, the Twins have been in contact with agents for third basemen Josh Donaldson and Todd Frazier, as well as other corner infield candidates. The Twins did not tender C.J. Cron a contract, creating an opening at first base. The Twins could add a first baseman, or they could move Miguel Sano to first next season and bring in a new third baseman. The belief is that if they can't upgrade the pitching staff the way they would like to, they just might add to an already powerful offense.

Donaldson, who turns 34 Sunday, batted .259 with 37 home runs and 94 RBI for Atlanta last season. Frazier, 33, hit .251 with 21 home runs and 67 RBI for the Mets.

As for the quest for a starting pitcher ...

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