TwinsFest is in the rearview mirror, which means Spring Training is on the horizon. Twins pitchers and catchers are set to report to the club's complex in Fort Myers, Fla., on Feb. 16, with position players to arrive on Feb. 21.
There are just a few weeks left in the offseason, so it will be interesting to see if the Twins make any last-minute additions to the roster before camp. And that leads us to the first question in this week's Inbox:
There were rumblings from team executives at TwinsFest over the weekend that the club isn't done making moves. General manager Terry Ryan said he's still monitoring the free-agent market but admitted that it's lean in regard to position players.
It seems as though the most likely signing would be to bring back left-hander Johan Santana on a Minor League deal. That makes sense, as he's familiar with the organization and pitching coach Rick Anderson, and he lives in Fort Myers.
Santana, 34, is reportedly close to making a decision, but he also isn't expected to be ready to pitch until June. Last April he underwent shoulder surgery, the second such operation he's had over the last three years.
The Twins will have an open spot on their 40-man roster once Andrew Albers officially signs with the Hanwha Eagles of the Korean Baseball Organization, which could happen as early as this week, but I don't expect the club to make any other major splashes this offseason.
Are the Twins still looking for a starting shortstop, or are they planning to go with Pedro Florimon?
-- Jason E., Rome, N.Y.
Among free-agent position players, shortstop Stephen Drew would make some sense for the Twins, but signing him would require the loss of a Draft pick, so it doesn't appear likely he'll be heading to Minnesota.
But Florimon was told this offseason that he still has to compete for the starting job this spring, which is different from last year, when the Twins wanted him to head to camp more relaxed, and told him the job was his to lose. This year they want him to have some competition after he struggled with the bat last year, and as the roster stands, his competition would be Jason Bartlett and Eduardo Escobar.
Bartlett hasn't played in the Majors since May 2012 after undergoing knee surgery, and though he said at TwinsFest that he plans to compete for the starting role, it's more likely he'll be a backup if he makes the club, as Florimon is still the frontrunner.
With Vance Worley out of options for the Minor Leagues, would he be an option in the bullpen? With his mid-to-high-90s fastball and a breaking ball, I would think he would be well suited to be a setup man.
-- Tim C., Council Bluffs, Iowa
The competition for the fifth spot in the rotation will be very interesting this spring, as Samuel Deduno, Scott Diamond and Worley are all out of options, which means they must be placed on and clear waivers before being sent to the Minors.
Deduno is considered the frontrunner for that spot because he had the most success of the three last season, but he is also coming off shoulder surgery.
Worley could make some sense in the bullpen if he loses out for the fifth spot and if the Twins don't want to risk losing him on waivers. His stuff would certainly play up in a bullpen role where he could air it out, and he could also serve as a long reliever.
But as Ryan likes to say, these things usually work themselves out during the spring, especially if players are injured and spots become available. If anything, juggling several options for fifth starter is a good problem for the Twins to have.
What are the Twins going to do about the offense? Who do they plan to pick up who will help drive in runs? They helped the pitching but have done nothing to help the offense. Are they looking at bringing in an outfielder and/or an infielder? How are the coaches going to address the high number of strikeouts, especially with runners on base?
-- Dan K., Bismarck, N.D.
The Twins struggled offensively in 2013, scoring 614 runs, the third-lowest total in the American League, and they also shattered the club record for strikeouts in a season, with 1,430.
They didn't really address the offense this offseason with their emphasis on pitching additions, as the only position player signed to a Major League deal was Suzuki, who is known more for his defense.
The Twins are instead hoping for bounceback years from such veterans as Joe Mauer, Josh Willingham and Minor League signee Jason Kubel, all of whom dealt with injuries last season. They're also hoping that younger players -- including Brian Dozier and Oswaldo Arcia -- can build on their success from 2013.
But the Twins do need to cut down on strikeouts and find a way to perform better with runners in scoring position, as they hit just .225 in those situations last year.
The offense should be better, if only because it can't perform much worse, but the Twins appear to be waiting for top prospects Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton to reach the Majors before making drastic changes to the offense.
What are the Twins' plans for center field in 2014?
-- Mark R., Anoka, Minn.
But the Twins remain upbeat about Aaron Hicks despite his struggles as a rookie last season, and he still has a chance to win the job, especially if he performs the way he did last year in Spring Training. Hicks, though, is more likely to get seasoning at Triple-A Rochester to begin the season, but the former top prospect should get his chance to prove he can be a big league regular at some point.