Signings of Cron, Schoop suggest quiet winter meetings for Twins

Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter C.J. Cron (44) hits his 30th home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 29. The Minnesota Twins nabbed Cron off waivers in November. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter C.J. Cron (44) hits his 30th home run of the season against the Toronto Blue Jays on Sept. 29. The Minnesota Twins nabbed Cron off waivers in November. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

LAS VEGAS — After fielding about 16 minutes’ worth of questions late Sunday night, Dec. 9, in their suite at the Delano Las Vegas about their plans for the winter meetings and beyond, Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine faced one last inquiry.

Asked how long the Twins’ meeting with prized-free agent Bryce Harper was, Falvey cracked a smile and a laugh.

“Lengthy,” he said.

The Twins aren’t expected to be players for either of the top two names on the market — Harper and Manny Machado — and in reality, although they were linked to some names Monday, most notably Nelson Cruz, they could be looking at a relatively quiet winter meetings after filling two of their holes in the weeks before the annual event kicked off at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino.

“(It was) just kind of normal day of checking in,” Falvey said of the team’s Monday activities. “I think there’s been a lot of reports and indications, but I would say a lot this right now to be truly candid is due-diligence work. I think there’s a lot of rumors, but I think there’s a lot more responsibility to check in with different people around potential fits with our team, so that’s where things stand.”

The Twins nabbed first baseman C.J. Cron, who hit 30 home runs for the Rays last season, in late November off waivers and on Thursday reached a one-year deal with second baseman Jonathan Schoop. They also signed infielder Ronald Torreyes.

With their infield needs addressed, the Twins still need to shore up the bullpen — they’ll need a closer after trading Fernando Rodney last season — and could go after a designated hitter, though they also might be content with splitting up that role instead of looking for a full-time DH.

“We probably were a little more aggressive at first base and second base because we saw clear holes,” Levine said, “whereas the relievers we do have some incumbents that could compete, similar for the DH, so it was a little bit less of urgency I think on our side to fill those holes.”

They also have a fifth rotation spot they could look to fill either internally or externally. Filling out the first four spots are Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda.

Said Falvey: “Certainly, there are four slots, you could say right now, that our major league rotation is pretty set as it stands today on our roster, but I would say that we’re going to be open-minded to, if there’s an addition out there, over the course of the offseason, that might fit and add to the competition of that group.

“The reality is that you have injuries with pitching, as we’ve all seen and experienced before, so we just want to make sure we build out enough depth in that group.”

Despite still having needs, the Twins won’t necessarily be the most active team on the market this week in Las Vegas. As evidenced by last offseason, they are willing to be patient.

“Now we can be more open-minded about some other conversations we have moving forward,” Falvey said after filling the first- and second-base holes. “I don’t think we have any specific goals we’re hoping to come out of this week with here, but we will meet with teams and meet with agents.”