Diving into the depths: Minnesota Twins

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This is part of a 30-article series looking at each team’s depth chart headed into spring training.
Minnesota Twins
1. Scott Baker
2. Nick Blackburn
3. Kevin Slowey
4. Carl Pavano
5. Francisco Liriano
6. Glen Perkins
7. Brian Duensing
8. Anthony Swarzak
9. Jeff Manship
10. Mike Maroth
11. Tyler Robertson
12. Carlos Gutierrez
I had Liriano seventh when I did the depth chart for the draft guide a month ago, but I think there’s greater reason for optimism now following his successful stint in the Dominican Winter League. If Liriano does manage to walk away with a rotation spot, then a trade involving Perkins would become a more likely possibility. Maybe he’d fetch the backup center fielder the Twins need.
1. Joe Nathan
2. Matt Guerrier
3. Jose Mijares
4. Jon Rauch
5. Jesse Crain
6. Pat Neshek
7. Francisco Liriano
8. Clay Condrey
9. Brian Duensing
10. Glen Perkins
11. Anthony Slama
12. Kyle Waldrop
13. Carlos Gutierrez
14. Mike Maroth
15. Rob Delaney
16. Alex Burnett
17. Ryan Mullins
Liriano should round out the pen if he’s not in the rotation. Otherwise, it would seem to be a battle between Condrey and Duensing, though Duensing is another possibility for the rotation. Or maybe Crain will be traded if the relievers below him impress.

1. Joe Mauer
2. Jose Morales
3. Drew Butera
4. Wilson Ramos
First base
1. Justin Morneau
2. Michael Cuddyer
3. Erik Lis
Second base
1. Orlando Hudson
2. Nick Punto
3. Alexi Casilla
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Brendan Harris
Third base
1. Nick Punto
2. Brendan Harris
3. Danny Valencia
4. Matt Tolbert
5. Luke Hughes
1. J.J. Hardy
2. Nick Punto
3. Matt Tolbert
4. Alexi Casilla
5. Brendan Harris
With Morales iffy for Opening Day after wrist surgery, either Butera or the 22-year-old Ramos could open the season as Mauer’s backup.
Left field
1. Delmon Young
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
Center field
1. Denard Span
2. Delmon Young
3. Ben Revere
4. Jacque Jones
5. Rene Tosoni
Right field
1. Michael Cuddyer
2. Jason Kubel
3. Jacque Jones
4. Juan Portes
5. Rene Tosoni
Designated hitter
1. Jason Kubel
2. Jim Thome
3. Justin Morneau
With Thome, Harris and the backup catcher set to occupy bench spots, the Twins have just one spot open. A legitimate backup center fielder would be nice, but the team will likely go with either Casilla or Tolbert. While Casilla is the greater talent and has the advantage of being out of options, the organization seems to prefer Tolbert.

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.