Nashville will be the center of the baseball universe this week for the annual winter meetings and, perhaps, it could be the vehicle that drives more action to the offseason.
Last year's winter meetings were one of the most active in recent memory. Aaron Judge, Willson Contreras, Masataka Yoshida and Xander Bogaerts agreed to megadeals during the week to highlight the frenzy.
The Twins, who plan to reduce payroll for the upcoming year, have seen three of their former pitchers sign multiyear contracts elsewhere — Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda and Emilio Pagán — and they appear more focused on the trade market at this stage of the winter.
Here's a look at what is ahead during the winter meetings:
What positions do the Twins want to upgrade?
Center field is the biggest question mark on the roster. Byron Buxton hasn't played in the field in an MLB game since August 2022, and the Twins don't have another natural center fielder on their roster. Prospect Austin Martin will likely focus on center during spring training, but he played fewer than 100 innings at the position in Class AAA last season. Willi Castro and Nick Gordon have played there sparingly.
Starting pitching was the strength of the Twins last year, and they just lost two starters through free agency. Acquiring a front-line starter is a goal, but there are a lot of pitching-needy teams battling for the same guys on the trade market.
First base is another position the Twins will explore in free agency and trades. Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda are both coming off shoulder injuries, and Kirilloff can play the outfield if they added an everyday starter.
Who are the top trade candidates?
The Twins have four clear trade candidates because of their salaries and proximity to free agency: Kyle Farmer, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler and Christian Vázquez. The latter three players will make at least $10 million in 2024. Farmer and Kepler are set to reach free agency after the 2024 season, while Polanco has a $12.5 million club option in his contract for 2025.
None of those four players could land a front-line starter on his own, but they could be traded to create some additional payroll flexibility.
How do the Twins compare to AL Central rivals?
The NL Central has arguably been the most active division to start the offseason, but it's been relatively quiet on the AL side. The Tigers signed Maeda to a two-year, $24 million contract to give their rotation a veteran presence, and they acquired outfielder Mark Canha in a trade, but they are still relying on their young players to improve.
The Guardians hired Stephen Vogt as their manager to succeed Terry Francona, but otherwise, they traded away struggling starter Cal Quantrill and added reliever Scott Barlow. The White Sox are trading away players and could deal the ace of their rotation, Dylan Cease. The Royals are still trying to climb out of a rebuild.
Will the Twins lose anyone in the Rule 5 Draft?
The Twins added Martin, center fielder Emmanuel Rodriguez, first baseman Yunior Severino and catcher Jair Camargo to their 40-man roster in November to protect them from the Rule 5 Draft.
Baseball America lists center fielder DaShawn Keirsey, first baseman/catcher Chris Williams and reliever Miguel Rodriguez as players who could be selected by other teams. The Twins haven't picked a player in the Rule 5 Draft since pitcher Tyler Kinley in 2017.
What other league business happens?
MLB's draft lottery will be conducted Tuesday. The Twins, who jumped up eight slots last year, aren't included in the lottery this year because they made the postseason. The Twins hold the No. 23 overall pick and will likely receive the No. 33 pick as compensation for Sonny Gray declining a qualifying offer and signing elsewhere.
There will likely be at least one new member of the Hall of Fame on Sunday from the Contemporary Era for managers, executives and umpires. A 16-member committee voted on the candidacy for managers Cito Gaston, Davey Johnson, Jim Leyland and Lou Piniella, umpires Ed Montague and Joe West, and executives Hank Peters and Bill White.