NASHVILLE — After the league had a quiet first day from the annual winter meetings, the Twins appear unlikely to break the ice.
The Twins are active on the trade market with four players who are candidates to be dealt — infielders Jorge Polanco and Kyle Farmer, outfielder Max Kepler and catcher Christian Vázquez — because of their salaries and proximity to free agency, but none of their trade talks have reached an advanced stage.
"I think we're still in that early feeling-out phase," Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations, said Monday. "It feels weird to say that in December, but that's just the way it is now."
Falvey noted there hasn't been a position player who has signed a multiyear contract this winter. Outfielder Jason Heyward's one-year, $9 million deal to re-sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers is the largest contract by a position player this offseason.
"I was thinking earlier about why [the trade market] might be moving maybe a tick slower," Falvey said. "We're at no different a position than we were on the position player side the day free agency started, in theory. I do wonder if that will shake out. There's been a lot of interest in a number of different players on our team."
The Twins are looking to add a starting pitcher, at least one who could compete with Louie Varland for the fifth spot in the rotation, and a center fielder. First base is another position the Twins will explore an external addition with Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda coming off shoulder procedures.
A payroll reduction for the upcoming season will affect the Twins' ability to sign free agents without a prior trade — Rhys Hoskins is a good fit, on paper, as a righthanded power-hitting first baseman — but Falvey said payroll considerations haven't changed the way they've gone about their offseason to this point. They had an interest in retaining righthander Kenta Maeda on a one-year deal before he signed a two-year, $24 million contract with the Detroit Tigers.
"We're always trying to be opportunistic, think of where a trade matches, where there might be opportunities to invest in a way that will help us get better," he said. "We've always kind of been a team that waits out some of the market, in some spaces, and waits to see how things shake out to some degree. The team isn't made at the end of the winter meetings, right? This has never been a key marker for me personally or for us in general."
It's a weak class of free agents on the position player side, which could increase the trade value for Kepler and Polanco. If both players were free agents, they would have arguments to be considered the top player at their positions. Kepler is set to reach free agency after the 2024 season while Polanco has a $12.5 million club option in his contract for the 2025 season.
Farmer and Vázquez carry less trade value. Farmer, a free agent after the 2024 season, could command around $7 million through arbitration and Vázquez is owed $20 million over the next two years.
Polanco "has been one of the most important players that we've had in my tenure with the Twins," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "Middle infielders who switch hit and are always productive when they're on the field, who you can hit anywhere at the top of the lineup, there's very few of those guys anywhere in the world that can do what he does."
The Twins don't feel like they have a major weakness on their roster, which gives them some flexibility as they weigh trades and free agent signings.
"Do we need to round out areas? For sure," Falvey said. "But I don't think we're specifically in one specific market for one specific position."