In an interview with reporters on Monday night at the Winter Meetings, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan wanted to make sure to tame expectations. When asked if the Twins will be competitive in 2013, he said, "We will try to have that happen... We have to be realistic on all fronts." This most likely means that the Twins won't be handing out buckets of cash to front-line starting pitching but that could be expected from the start of the offseason. There could be some other deeper meanings that are going to transpire in the rest of this offseason or before the end of the year.
If the Twins aren't planning on being competitive in 2013, what else should the club accomplish before the start of next season?
From the sounds of reports, neither one of these men will be changing jerseys before the start of the year. Morneau will be entering the last year of his contract and he is due a $14 million. Willingham only joined the club last season but his value might be the highest it can be after a career year in 2012. If the Twins were able to trade both of these players for talent that would be ready in the next couple of seasons, it could be a step in the right direction. Morneau's money will also be off the books for 2014 so this could help if the Twins need to add some depth at other positions.
Will the outfield of the future be able to breakout by 2014? Oswaldo Arcia and Aaron Hicks each had fantastic seasons in 2012 but this came at the Double-A level. Both players will likely start at Triple-A in 2013, which could mean their debuts at some point next season. An outfield with Arcia, Hicks and Ben Revere seems like it could be in place for multiple seasons if all of these players can stay healthy and productive. The jump from Double-A all the way to the big leagues can come with some bumps and bruises so the Twins might have to continue to be patient with their rising prospects.
Could the rotation be stronger by the start of next season? Entering next season, the Twins have plenty of question marks in the rotation. By the start of next season, some of those question marks might be dissolved. Kyle Gibson will most certainly be on an innings limit in 2013 after coming back from Tommy John surgery and he might not even start the year in the rotation. In 2014, he should be able to pitch a full season and he should be in the starting rotation from the start of the year. Newly acquired Alex Meyer will most likely start next year in Double-A, which could mean he debuts with the Twins by the end of 2013. If Gibson and Meyer can put together positive seasons, these two pitchers along with Scott Diamond could make up three-fifths of the rotation in 2014.
The hope of 2014 might mean that a lot of things have to go right in 2013. The Twins need Arcia and Hicks to continue to progress and the health of the three pitchers mentioned above needs to be good. When relying on younger players, there can be a learning curve and that might be why the Twins would want to trade other player this offseason. By giving some of these younger players time to iron out the kinks, the team could be better set up for success in the future.
Most fans know the Twins aren't going to be on pace to win 100 games next year. It would be nice to see the Twins be competitive in what has been a very winnable division during the last few seasons. The time doesn't feel right for the Twins to charge back in the Central so it might be more important to focus on the future and make moves that will help the Twins to succeed in the long run.