When people talk about teams that have had good off-seasons, the usual names that come up are the Seattle Mariners, the Boston Red Sox, and people that hate the New York Mets. For all of them, this has been a productive winter full of good news. But there’s a new contender in the mix for best off-season in baseball: the Minnesota Twins.
They were able to retain Carl Pavano on a one-year deal, solidifying their starting rotation. They picked up J.J. Hardy on the cheap to solve their shortstop problem. They added Jim Thome as a bat off the bench and to provide depth at DH and, by extension, the corner outfield spots. And they’re reportedly on the verge of signing Joe Mauer to a long-term contract that will keep him in Minnesota for the rest of his career – or most of it, anyway.
They capped their winter yesterday by signing Orlando Hudson to play second base, getting him for the bargain rate of just $5 million. His abilities with the bat, as a switch-hitter no less, make him a perfect fit for what the Twins needed. He’ll slide in between Denard Span and Joe Mauer, breaking up the string of lefties and giving their line-up depth that it did not have before.
With Hudson, Hardy, and Thome, the Twins have improved their offense significantly. By retaining Pavano and watching Francisco Liriano return to form in winter ball, their pitching rotation has the chance to be among the best in baseball. Their bullpen is still good, anchored by a relief ace and some quality arms in front of him.
It’s hard to imagine the Twins could have had a better winter. They used this off-season to upgrade the team, and while the roster isn’t perfect, they are clearly the class of the AL Central at this point. Adding Hudson is just the cherry on top of what was already a very good winter.
Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.