The Minnesota Twins’ 2022 season has to be called a massive disappointment as they were expected to be in contention for the American League Central crown. And while they did in a way, they eventually dropped out in September and finished the season with a sub-.500 record.
The twins will obviously try to ensure they don’t suffer a similar result in the 2023 season and their off-season work will play a big part in that. Minnesota has some big fish to fry, and their biggest goal will likely be finding a way to keep Carlos Correa in town on an actual long-term deal after he decides to resell the free hand testing.
While obviously a big part of the offseason is watching the Twins and seeing if they play for some of the big names available, some of the under-the-radar targets could be the ones that really lead to more wins for Minnesota lead the future. Let’s take a look at three sneaky free-agent targets for the twins and see why they could be crucial in helping Minnesota have a better 2023 campaign.
3. Adam Ottavino
The twins thought they would turn to their bullpen at the close of trade when they struck a deal with the Baltimore Orioles for their closer Jorge Lopez. And while Lopez may be able to stick to the narrower role in 2023, the back end of the bullpen needs plenty of help aside from Jhoan Duran, so Adam Ottavino makes a lot of sense as a potential late-innings bullpen addition.
Ottavino hasn’t been overly consistent throughout his career, but he was dominant in 2022 with the New York Mets. Ottavino played for New York before Edwin Diaz and had one of the best seasons of his career (6-3, 2.06 ERA, 3 SV, 79K, .98 WHIP), meaning he’s likely to have a busy market.
Ottavino isn’t a long-term fix for the bullpen as he’s 37 and has had seasons where he didn’t look like the pitcher he was in 2022. But Ottavino should be a strong option to fill out the late innings, and he’ll likely be cheaper than some of the other options available, making him a very strong target for Minnesota.
The Twins, like the vast majority of teams in the league, need some catching up to do. Gary Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers didn’t really get the job done last season, and Minnesota will likely be looking for a more consistent option behind the plate. Luckily for Minnesota this offseason there will be a few different opportunities to explore that position at this point.
Everyone will be focused on Willson Contreras in free agency or Sean Murphy in the trade market, but Christian Vazquez will also be lurking as a strong option for the team that will want him again this offseason. Vazquez just won a ring with the Astros in 2022, but behind Martin Maldonado he was really a secondary option for them. Vazquez’s numbers (.274 BA, 9 HR, 52 RBI, .714 OPS) are strong enough that he will find an entry-level job this offseason.
The twins should turn their attention to Vazquez rather than pushing for one of the bigger options in Contreras or Murphy. Vazquez isn’t a superstar behind the court, but he does make everything good for a catcher, and given how bad things have been for Minnesota in 2022, it would be wise to make a big play for Vazquez while everyone else isn’t watch after.
1. Chris Bassitt
The starting pitcher market has already started to move when Jacob deGrom disembarked with the Mets and joined the Texas Rangers. The Mets will likely have an incentive to keep their other big free-agent starter in Chris Bassitt on board now, but he should be the Twins’ sneakiest free-agent target this offseason.
Bassitt held New York’s starting rotation together last season and had another strong season (15-9, 3.42 ERA, 167K, 1.15 WHIP), cementing himself as one of the most consistent starts in the game. Bassitt would normally garner a lot more attention, but with big names like deGrom and Justin Verlander also being free agents, he hasn’t been as popular as a free target like he should be at the start of this offseason.
Minnesota needs more top-end starters in their rotation, and while Bassitt might not be your most typical ace, he’s been like an ace on the mound for the past five seasons. He could lead the Twins rotation the way they desperately need it in 2022 needed, and will likely be far cheaper than other top-end options. Because of this, the twins should be heavily chasing Bassitt in the free hand.