Minnesota Twins Offseason: Alexi Casilla Avoids Arbitration

The Minnesota Twins signed Alexi Casilla on Tuesday. With the deal, the two sides avoided what could've been a messy arbitration.

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Carl Pavano Will Be Minnesota Twins Opening Day Starter

It seems a bit early to talk about Major League Baseball's opening day, but that's exactly what Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire decided to do this week. When asked about the pitching rotation, Gardenhire said he's already decided the starting pitchers for the first two games of the season.

Gardenhire will start Carl Pavano in the team's first game of the season, scheduled to take place on Apr. 6 against the Baltimore Ooriles, the manager told Charley Waters of the Pioneer Press. Gardenhire also said Scott Baker will start the team's home opener when the Twins host the Los Angeles Angels on Apr. 9 at Target Field.

The Twins will open their Spring Training on Feb. 18 -- 13 days before their exhibition schedule begins -- as Gardenhire attempts to iron out some kinks that were all too evident last season.

"But the extra days are important to reinforce and work more than one day on certain things. We're going to do a few more drills (when) we're on the field - cutoffs, relays, baserunning. We're really going to pound that into their heads. It's all about details and paying attention."

For more on the Minnesota Twins, check out Twinkie Town. You can also head over to SB Nation's main MLB hub at Baseball Nation.

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Minnesota Twins Agree To Deals With Francisco Liriano, Glen Perkins

The Minnesota Twins nearly waited until the final buzzer before agreeing to deals with two of their pitchers prior to the MLB's annual arbitration period. The front office got it done, however, as they signed Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins before things got messy.

The Twins announced both of the deals on Tuesday and, according to the team's website, Liriano will make $5.5 million in 2012 while Perkins earns $1.55 million for his efforts. It's a bit surprising considering both players struggled last season, but it does seem to be a better option than the crapshoot that can be arbitration.

Minnesota isn't in the clear quite yet, however, as they still have an infielder to agree with before arbitration officially begins on Feb. 1.

The lone Twins player eligible for arbitration who remains unsigned is second baseman Alexi Casilla. Casilla, 27, filed his arbitration figure at $1.75 million, while the Twins offered $1.065 million.

Casilla, who batted .260 with a .322 on-base percentage and .368 slugging percentage in 97 games in 2011, made $865,000 last year.

For more on the Minnesota Twins, check out Twinkie Town. You can also head over to SB Nation's main MLB hub at Baseball Nation.

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Minnesota Twins Announce 'Special Instructors' And Camp Invites For Spring Training

The Minnesota Twins announced that they will have 25 extra players that aren't currently on the roster in training camp when Spring Training opens up in Fort Meyers, Fla., next month. There aren't a lot of big name prospects, but the most familiar faces are probably going to be the special instructors in Florida to help out.

Twins announced Eddie Guardado, Tom Kelly, Tony Oliva, Paul Molitor, Rod Carew, Jim Kaat and Terry Steinbach will all be in Fort Meyers when training camp kicks off on Feb. 18 to help coach the following prospects:

There will be 10 non-roster pitchers, including left-hander Phil Dumatrait, who split the 2011 season between Minnesota and Triple-A Rochester. Other pitchers include Jason Bulger, Jared Burton, Samuel Deduno, Casey Fien, Luis Perdomo, Daryl Thompson, P.J. Walters and Brendan Wise.

The five catchers who will be in camp are prospects Chris Herrmann, Daniel Rohlfing and Danny Lehmann, former Astros catcher J.R. Towles and 2011 Twins backstop Rene Rivera.

The seven infielders are Aaron Bates, Sean Burroughs, Ray Chang, Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon Jr., Mike Hollimon and Steve Pearce.

Among the three outfielders invited are Matt Carson, Brian Dinkelman and Wilkin Ramirez.

For more on the Minnesota Twins, check out Twinkie Town. You can also head over to SB Nation's main MLB hub at Baseball Nation.

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Josh Willingham, Minnesota Twins Nearing An Agreement

Josh Willingham has bounced around a bit the last couple of seasons as the outfielder moved from the Florida Marlins to the Washington Nationals to the Oakland Athletics last season. It seems the 32-year-old slugger may be moving to a fourth team this year, too, as the Minnesota Twins closed in on an agreement with the free agent on Tuesday afternoon.

Willingham batted .246 with Oakland last season in 488 plate appearances, driving in  career-high 98 RBIs and scoring 69 runs in the process. He's now looking likely the likely option to replace Michael Cuddyer in the Twins outfield, according to Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports.

If the Twins lose Cuddyer and Jason Kubel and sign Willingham, as Rosenthal is reporting, they would net three high draft picks without losing any according to the veteran reporter. The Twins would gain two picks for Cuddyer, who is considered a Modified Type A free agent, and one for Kubel (a Type B free agent) while not losing any for acquiring Willingham.

This may or may not makes the fellas at Twinkie Town happy as they were waiting on something to happen with Willingham and Cuddyer for the past few days.

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Kevin Slowey Traded By Minnesota Twins To Colorado Rockies

The Minnesota Twins made another pitching transaction on Tuesday, following Monday's re-signing of Matt Capps, as the team announced they have traded Kevin Slowey to the Colorado Rockies. Slowey lost all eight of his starts this past season.

Slowey, selected by the Twins in the second round of the 2005 amateur draft, was in the majors with Minnesota for the past five seasons. He'll now be a member of the Rockies, however, as the Twins decided not to tender him a contract and instead send him to Colorado for a player to be named later.

That player, according to 1500 ESPN, is likely to be an outfielder.

MLB.com reported on Monday that the Twins have shown interest in Rockies' outfielder Seth Smith, who owns a career batting line of .275/.348/.485 with 51 home runs in 1,449 plate appearances. Those numbers dip away from Coors Field, however -- .257/.332/.419.

Aside from the money this frees up for the Twins this offseason, Twinkie Town's Jesse notes that it also opens up a spot in Minnesota's starting rotation.

This takes one more option out of Minnesota's internal starter list. Scott Baker, Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano and Nick Blackburn remain the top four in all likelihood, but now that fifth spot (barring an addition) is down to Anthony Swarzak, Liam Hendriks (who should begin the year in Rochester) and Brian Duensing (who has been pegged for the bullpen).

The Twins could sign a fifth starter, too, but the internal options are available just in case.

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Matt Capps Re-Signs With Minnesota Twins, According To Report

Matt Capps will return to the Minnesota Twins this season, likely as the closer, as the team re-signed the veteran relief pitcher during Monday's winter meetings. The 28-year-old appeared in 69 games for the Twins last season as he pitched a total of 65.2 innings.

The Twins signed Capps to a one-year deal with an option for an additional seasons, according to Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman. He will likely move into the closing role Joe Nathan occupied before signing with the Texas Rangers earlier this offseason.

Capps finished last season a 4.25 ERA and lost his closing role after blowing nine of his 24 save attempts by July, leaving the experts at Twinkie Town a bit torn on his re-signing with the club.

In November, Twinkie Town seemed semi-okay with bringing Capps back at the right price, writing "the Twins are interested in bringing him back, and I have to agree that for $2 to $2.5 million it's not a bad choice. Capps is better than he pitched in 2011, but he's not my favorite and I'd much rather have him as a middle reliever than a closer."

That sentiment changed on Monday afternoon, however, as Jon Marthaler wrote the following:

This is one year and an option year too long, plus there's one too few draft pick in the deal.

You know, you wouldn't necessarily think that a 99-loss team would spend so much time trying to retain its own players, would you?

Hopefully Capps exceeds expectations, however limited, or Twinkie Twon might not be the happiest website on the internet this season.

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Joe Nathan Never Gave Minnesota Twins Chance To Match Texas Rangers Offer

The Minnesota Twins trotted out Joe Nathan 394 times during the seven years he was healthy enough to close games for the organization. The veteran closer won't be returning for an eighth season, however, as the 37-year-old signed with the Texas Rangers on Monday.

The Twins had originally mentioned that they would be interested in re-signing the veteran earlier in the offseason, but Twins president Dave St. Peter said that they were never given the option of matching the Rangers' offer.

Never given the chance. RT @tsmbain: Really. The Twins couldn't match Texas' offer?
Nov 22 via TweetDeckFavoriteRetweetReply

 

The Twins have a few options now that Nathan officially isn't coming back. Twinkie Town mentions current Twins' Glen Perkins, Jon Rauch and Matt Capps along with players like Heath Bell, Frank Francisco and Ryan Madson as possible options the Minnesota front office should look into before next season gets started.

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Jamey Carroll Signed By Minnesota Twins, According To Reports

The Minnesota Twins have reportedly made their first major signing of the offseason, signing shortstop Jamey Carroll from the Los Angeles Dodgers. Once it's finalized, Carroll will be the first player to be signed by Terry Ryan in his second go-around as the Twins General Manager.

Carroll, a 10-year MLB veteran who will turn 38 before next season begins, is more of a defensive player than anything as he's previously been a bit of a utility player in the past. He played at second base and shortstop last season with experience playing third base and both corner outfield positions in the past as well.

Carroll's contract with the Twins would be in the $7 million range for two years, according to Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal. That's quite a large amount of money to invest in a 38-year-old shortstop -- the same position Tsuyoshi Nishioka plays -- but Twinkie Town seems to believe it's an alright move.

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Terry Ryan Named New Minnesota Twins General Manager, Taking Place Of Bill Smith

The Minnesota Twins made a surprise announcement on Monday afternoon, deciding that Terry Ryan will be named the team's interim general manager, replacing Bill Smith. Ryan previously held the role as Twins GM from 1994-2007 before Smith took over for the past few seasons.

The Twins had an awful season last year, finishing 63-99 and in last place in the division after making the playoffs the previous two seasons. Though Ryan only has the interim tag for now, the organization sent its well wishes on Smith's future endeavors in a press release.

"No one in the Twins' organization wants to win any more than Bill," Twins Owner and CEO Jim Pohlad said. "He is unquestionably loyal, committed and talented. The Twins goal is to get better in 2012 and beyond. Bill was equally motivated to achieve that goal but we differed in the scope and approach that was required. Going forward, we intend to have additional discussions with Bill about an ongoing role within the organization. We wish Bill, Becky and the entire Smith family nothing but the best.

"We are fortunate and grateful for Terry Ryan's willingness to step in as interim general manager," Pohlad continued.

Ryan, who will reprise his role as general manager after being the Senior Advisor to the General Manager while Smith was in charge, has a positive out look going for him.

"As we move ahead, I'm looking forward to the challenge of improving this club for 2012 and beyond," Ryan said. "We have many assets in place including a strong front office, manager, coaching staff and returning core of players. We have a lot of work to do in relation to development of our roster, but I'm optimistic in our collective abilities to ensure the future on-field success of this franchise."

The Twins have quite a bit of work to do this offseason, but hopefully Ryan can get the team back its winning ways -- or at least not flirt with losing 100 games as they nearly did last season.

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