The Twins are at a crossroads. They just finished their second straight season of having a nine-digit payroll and 96 or more losses. That isn't something you brag about. It now leaves them having to make the tough choice of spending more money to try and claw their way back to respectability in a very winnable division or admitting to their deficiencies and starting a legitimate rebuilding project.
When you lose 96 games, you have a lot of needs. That's just science… or something. The biggest area of need is the rotation. And I do mean an area because the Twins need an entirely new rotation. The only guarnateed holdover they have is Scott Diamond. They have some young arms that can fill in a slot or two, but if Minnesota wants to get back to respectability, they need some reliable arms, preferably of the power variety. As for the lineup, the Twins return most of their starters, which isn't entirely a bad thing. The only area of real need is the middle infield which was a virtual wasteland in 2012. They could also use an upgrade in middle relief as closer Matt Capps could leave in free agency which should lead to Glen Perkins or Jared Burton (or both) getting a role promotion.
Assuming the big drop in attendance in Minnesota translates to at least a marginal drop in payroll, the Twins should have around $25 million to $30 million burning a hole in their pocket this off-season. That doesn't mean they are going to make a huge splash though, that just isn't the Twins' style. Still, they need more established starters but will likely have to roll the dice on the likes of Ervin Santana, Edwin Jackson or Daisuke Matsuzaka. That is, if they want to finally start building a rotation around power pitchers. Otherwise, they could go after veterans with more consistency and less upside like Joe Blanton, Joe Saunders or Jeremy Guthrie.
As for the infield, options are far more limited, but Minnesota cannot afford to go into another season with a second base-shortstop combo that offers nothing offensively. The can probably live with Jamey Carroll at shortstop but would have to look at players like Jeff Keppinger, Maicer Izturis or, if they are willing to plunk down a good chunk of change, Marco Scutaro. None of them are gamechangers, but most anything is an upgrade at this point.
One thing that can't be ruled out is the Twins opting to rebuild rather than spend. If they go that route, the first player on the block will be Justin Morneau. He bounced back a little bit last season, but if they can find a deal where a team would give up a solid prospect and assume most of his remaining contract, they'd definitely have to think about it. After that, the best trade piece they have is Denard Span, who is made somewhat expendable thanks to the presence of Ben Revere. It is also quite possible that the Twins could trade either Span or Revere even if they are aren't rebuilding.
The fact that the Twins and Nationals never got together on a trade for Span is borderline criminal. Given how Washington's season ended, one would think they might consider revisiting that long-dead Span-Storen swap. If that doesn't workout, they'd be well advised to wait out the Michael Bourn market and dangle Span to the losers in hopes of landing some cheap, young starting pitching in return.
The big mystery will be who the Twins could flip Morneau to. Toronto would likely appreciate landing the native Canadian and it might behoove the Red Sox to use some of their new spending power to audition Morneau for a year. Don't rule out the Giants either, as they reportedly kicked the tires on a Morneau trade back at the deadline.