NASHVILLE — When the Twins reached out to teams about potential trades over the three days at the MLB winter meetings, the primary response was: "Stay in touch."
"What we continue to hear on the trade front, just to be very candid about this part, is 'Hey, we have interest in some of your players. We'd like to talk about these guys, but we have to wait on a few other things to happen' or free agent discussions to come to pass," said Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations. "When that happens, you're constantly waiting to some degree."
The Twins, who are more active in the trade market than negotiations with free agents, may not see much activity until later this month. Here are some rumblings from the winter meetings:
• Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are the two Twins players drawing the most interest on the trade market, according to multiple people familiar with trade discussions. The Twins fielded interest in Kepler last winter, who some teams view as a potential fit in center field, and he had a stellar second half.
Polanco has been a consistent hitter throughout his career, though some teams are wary of his injury history over the last two seasons. Polanco holds a $12.5 million club option for the 2025 season.
• Twins catcher Christian Vázquez is drawing mild trade interest despite the two years and $20 million remaining in his contract, per a person with knowledge of exploratory trade talks. Vázquez, who didn't play in the postseason after Ryan Jeffers had a breakout season, is coming off one of the worst offensive seasons of his career, but he still has a strong defensive reputation.
• The New York Yankees finalized a trade for San Diego Padres outfielder Juan Soto that could benefit the Twins in their search for a center fielder. The Yankees wanted to add a center fielder this winter, but Aaron Judge is likely to shift to center with Soto in right field and recent trade acquisition Alex Verdugo in left field.
Kevin Kiermaier, Harrison Bader and Michael A. Taylor — who played for the Twins last season — highlight the second tier of free agent center fielders, behind Cody Bellinger.
• The Twins are exploring external additions at first base. Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda could form a platoon, but both players had shoulder procedures in the offseason and could be eased into spring training.
One of the best on-paper fits is Rhys Hoskins, who missed the entire 2023 season because of a torn ligament in his knee. He hit at least 27 homers in his last four seasons (excluding the shortened 2020 season) and he excels at hitting lefthanded pitching.
Hoskins may be open to a short-term contract after his knee injury, but he may be out of the Twins' price range.
"It's kind of like when [Michael] Conforto was on the market a year ago and he missed play for a year," said Scott Boras, Hoskins' agent, referring to Conforto's two-year, $36 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. "Rhys has a great reputation as a leader, plus his 30 [homers], 100-RBI consistency is something every team looks at. We have a lot of suitors for him."
Balazovic to bullpen
Jordan Balazovic was once considered the top pitching prospect in the Twins' farm system, but he will enter next spring out of minor league options. If the Twins don't put him on their Opening Day roster, he will be subject to waivers.
Balazovic, 25, will be used as a full-time reliever. In his first stint in the big leagues, he posted a 4.44 ERA in 18 relief appearances with 17 strikeouts and 12 walks in 24⅓ innings.
"The best way to get Jordan to be the most effective pitcher with where he's at with the pitch mix and otherwise is to have him in that 'pen role," Falvey said. "Could that be a multi-inning 'pen role? I don't think we're going to rule that out, but he'll come in competing as a reliever."