MLB Hot Stove Rumors: The Twins could be after Darvish, Arrieta and other pitchers

Coming off a surprise 85-win campaign in 2017 and a spot in the AL Wild Card Game, the Twins likely have designs on contention again in 2018. They have an impressive young core of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, and Jose Berrios, and that's in addition to useful veteran returnees like Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, and Ervin Santana. As well, top prospects Nick Gordon and Stephen Gonzalves should be ready to help at the highest level at some point in 2018. 

All that said, the Twins do need help on the pitching front. Last season, the Twins ranked just ninth in the 15-team AL in ERA, and they ranked 14th in strikeouts. That latter shortcoming is in large part the work of the previous front offices, which prioritized a pitch-to-contact approach over swings and misses. It takes a while to undo all of that, you know. On another level, ace Santana significantly out-pitched his command-and-control indicators this past season, and it seems unlikely he's going to keep runs off the board at a similar clip in 2018. The Twins, on top of other concerns, need to plan for that possibility. 

Speaking of which, here's the latest from Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports ... 

The Twins are looking at the two unquestionable top-of-the-rotation starters – Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta – as FanRag first reported – as well as next-tier starters Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn, plus others, and are looking at the top relievers, as well.

Darvish and Arrieta are indeed the prizes of this free agent class when it comes to starting pitchers, and Darvish pretty clear stands above Arrieta in the pecking order. Either would of course upgrade the Minnesota rotation in big way and also inject the staff with some sorely needed strikeout capabilities. 

Also, bear in mind that the Twins are also well positioned to make one of the strongest offers for Japanese superstar Shohei Otani. Because of the artificially restricted market for young international free agents like Otani, the Twins could pull that off in tandem with pricier acquisitions. 

On the bullpen front, recall that the Twins at the non-waiver deadline traded away All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler. Trevor Hildenberger certainly looks promising, but Minnesota badly needs some additional depth. Speaking of which, they've been linked to frontline free agent relievers Wade Davis and Greg Holland. Either of those guys would of course move into the closer's role, but when you add a closer the depth cascades from there. 

Either way, the Twins aren't taking their return to prominence for granted, and if the rumors are any guide they have an acute awareness of their roster needs. As such, don't be surprised if Minnesota is one of the most active teams on the pitching market this winter.

CBS Sports Writer

Dayn Perry has been a baseball writer for CBS Sports since early 2012. Prior to that, he wrote for FOXSports.com and ESPN.com. He's the author of three books, the most recent being Reggie Jackson: The... Full Bio

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