The Texas Rangers, who tied the Twins for the most homers in the American League during the regular season, bashed their way to their first World Series title in franchise history Wednesday.
The Rangers, whom all teams now are chasing, overpowered pitchers over four rounds of the postseason and dominated in road games after a 90-win regular season.
As the offseason officially begins, the Twins will enter 2024 with increased expectations after ending an 18-game playoff losing streak and winning their first playoff series in 21 years. Here is a look at what's ahead:
Twins free agents (8): RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Kenta Maeda, RHP Emilio Pagán, CF Michael A. Taylor, INF Donovan Solano, 1B/OF Joey Gallo, RHP Tyler Mahle and LHP Dallas Keuchel.
The Twins have more free agents than do any other AL Central team.
Gray is a virtual lock to receive a qualifying offer, which is around $20.5 million for one year and a formality for top free agents. Gray is expected to decline it and he should generate plenty of interest in his first career trip through free agency.
Maeda pitched well in the second half of the season, but he's entering his age-36 season. Mahle is likely to miss the start of the 2024 season after he had Tommy John surgery in May.
Taylor, who produced one of the best offensive seasons in his career, was a good fit with the Twins, especially in a season when Byron Buxton was limited to designated hitter. Solano has played for three teams over the past three seasons, and he's likely to search for another one-year contract.
Gallo and Keuchel were not included on the postseason roster.
Contract options (2): RF Max Kepler and 2B Jorge Polanco.
The Twins picked up team options for Kepler and Polanco rather than pay buyouts that would have allowed them to reach free agency.
Polanco's deal runs through 2025, while Kepler can be a free agent after next season.
Arbitration-eligible players (7): LHP Caleb Thielbar, INF Kyle Farmer, UTL Willi Castro, RHP Jorge Alcala, C Ryan Jeffers, 1B/LF Alex Kirilloff, UTL Nick Gordon.
The Twins already released two arbitration-eligible players, outfielder Jordan Luplow and injured pitcher José De León.
Farmer is projected to command around $7 million through arbitration, according to MLB Trade Rumors, a high price tag for a backup infielder. He hits well against lefties, provides good defensive versatility and made an impact inside the clubhouse, but he's a candidate to be released or traded.
Thielbar and Castro could command around $3 million, but both are likely in line to return. The 36-year-old Thielbar remains the top lefty in the bullpen, and Castro was one of the team's biggest surprises this year. Jeffers and Kirilloff, who underwent a bursectomy on his right shoulder, will return.
The question for Alcala and Gordon is whether the Twins will guarantee them a spot on the 40-man roster all offseason. Alcala has pitched 19 innings over the past two years. Gordon missed most of the 2023 season because of a broken leg.
Adding prospects to the 40-man roster
Utilityman Austin Martin and center fielder Emmanuel Rodriguez are the two Twins prospects who are locks to be added to the 40-man roster by Nov. 14 to protect them from being taken in the annual Rule 5 Draft.
Martin, acquired in the José Berríos trade, has a little bit of experience in center field, which could be important if the Twins don't add a center fielder this winter. Rodriguez hasn't reached Class AA, but he's rated as a top-100 prospect.
Catcher Jair Camargo, who hit 24 homers at Class AAA St. Paul, is another candidate if the Twins want to increase their depth at catcher.
Areas to add
Starting pitching was the strength of the Twins throughout the 2023 season, and they lost key depth to free agency. The current rotation entering next year includes Pablo López, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack and Louie Varland, but there isn't proven depth behind those five.
Center field will remain a major question mark amid Buxton's injuries. Buxton, who hasn't played the field in an MLB game since 2022, had arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 13. With Taylor entering free agency, the Twins don't have a natural incumbent option to play every day.
There is probably a need to add another late-inning reliever with Pagán entering free agency and Varland likely back in a starting role.