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By signing Carlos Correa, the Minnesota Twins announced they are all-in on the 2022 season. But with 17 days until Opening Day, the Twins' focus must shift to the mound.

Starting pitching was a struggle for the Twins last season as starters ranked 25th with a 5.18 ERA and their 58 losses ranked eighth. While the Twins made a pair of acquisitions in Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy, there is still plenty of work to do before they can be considered a legitimate contender.

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Gray should go a long way toward helping the cause. Over the past three seasons with the Cincinnati Reds, the right-hander went 23-20 with a 3.49 ERA. He also recorded over 10 strikeouts per nine innings and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 3.0.

Both numbers were the highest of any three-year stretch during his career and he did this while pitching half of his games at the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. If Gray's home/road splits are any indication, the Twins have a top-of-the-rotation arm they can rely on.

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Behind Gray is where things get murky. Joe Ryan was excellent in September but he also gave up six runs in his final start of the season. Bailey Ober was great during July and August (2-1, 3.06 ERA in 10 starts) but couldn't find consistency. With Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe posing as underwhelming candidates, the Twins will need external help to fill things out. 

The signing of Bundy also comes with a grain of salt. The right-hander finished ninth in American League Cy Young voting during the COVID-shortened 2020 season but went 2-9 with a 6.06 ERA last year.

The Twins have gotten some success out of similar reclamation projects but none of those players have been able to put together a full season.

The problem is that all the quality arms in this year's free-agent class have already been signed. According to FanGraphs' free-agent tracker, no unsigned free agent has a 2022 projected wins above replacement above 1.0.  But that doesn't mean the Twins aren't interested. 

KSTP's Darren Wolfson mentioned Johnny Cueto as a potential target. Cueto went 7-7 with a 4.08 ERA in 22 games (21 starts) with the San Francisco Giants last season but at age 36 he's more of a back-end option.

With the free-agent market dried up, the Twins' best option would be to explore a trade. Minnesota has been connected to Frankie Montas and Sean Manaea in recent days but has plenty of competition to make a deal.

Montas went 13-9 with a 3.37 ERA in 32 starts with the Oakland Athletics last season but his effectiveness goes beyond the stats. According to Baseball Savant, Montas generated a 32.5% chase rate, which placed in the 91st percentile among major league starters. That number helped him post 10 strikeouts per nine innings and finish sixth in AL Cy Young voting.

ESPN's Marly Rivera reported the Twins are interested in acquiring the 29-year-old, who is under team control through the 2023 season. But if they can't land Montas, MLB Network's Jon Morosi suggested Manaea could be an alternate option.

Manaea may not have the same stuff as Montas but he displays excellent control. The left-hander posted a 4.7 strikeout-to-walk ratio and walked just 5.4 percent of batters faced last season. In 32 starts, he went 11-10 with a 3.91 ERA. He is 30 years old and will be a free agent after the 2022 season. 

Both pitchers would command a hefty price but it may be worth it. Correa's contract is listed as a three-year deal but includes opt-outs for 2023 and 2024. With those years designed for Correa to hit the market and cash in next season, this may be the Twins' best shot to contend for a title.

This means that top prospects such as Royce Lewis, Austin Martin and perhaps Trevor Larnach could be made available to get a deal done. Whatever the Twins decide to do, they'll need to find a way to get some arms in the coming days.

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