Joe Nathan's signing by Texas and Matt Capps free agency has the Twins looking outside the organization for next year's closer. Capps may still be a candidate for that job, but the Twins would have to sacrifice the draft choice they will receive if Capps signs elsewhere. But the larger question is, who do the Twins have for the other 6 or 7 spots in the bullpen?
Veterans (over 28):
These three are all left handed. Perkins had a great year last year and should be set as one of the go to guys in the 8th inning. Dumatrait is not a setup guy, but he will give you innings over the course of the year. Brian Duensing has been in the rotation, but pitched effectively out of the bullpen before that.
Update: Waiver Claims
These three were all made available because they were released by taken off the roster of their previous club. We shouldn't really expect much from any of them, but they have a cahnce to win a place in the bullpen.
Young Veterans (under 27) not (under 25)
These three have all had some success, but have yet to really establish themselves. Swarzak was the swing man and long reliever last year, a role he is likely to continue in assuming he doesn't win a spot in the rotation. Mijares has not been at all consistent and is getting past the point where you can blame that on youth. He is arbitration eligible this year and its possible he won't be back. Burnett is only 23 and has talent. Whether he is ready to be consistent at the major league level remains a question. Jeff Manship, who was on the minor league DL most of last year, may also belong on this list. Its hard to know what to expect from him.
Prospects (with major league experience):
Jim Hoey may or may not belong on this list. He came over in the JJ Hardy trade and is a very hard thrower who can't find the plate. You always hold out hope for those guys, but he is 28 and if he has a future its now. Kyle Waldrop is a former first round draft choice who was injured in the minor leagues and has had a very long comeback. Lester Oliveros came over in the Delmon Young Trade. He could quickly turn into a bullpen mainstay. Scott Diamond was the Twins rule 5 draft choice last year. He has been used as a starter and it is unlikely, but not impossible, the Twins would convert him to a reliever.
Prospects (no major league experience):
Update: Delios Guerra
Gutierrez is a first round draft choice with a great sinker. He needs to get control of it and refine his other pitches, but he may be ready to take a right handed setup role. Tyler Robertson is was a third round choice in 2006 and is still only 23 years old. He has been a starter in the past, but was converted to the bullpen at AA this year with great success. He may be ready to help this season. Both these guys will need to prove something to win jobs out of spring training. But the opportunity is there and they have the talent to take it.
Update: Guerra is the only player left from the Santana trade. He was seen as a potential ace pitcher when the trade was made, but he was moved to the bullpen last year. He did very well out of the bullpen at AA, is only 22 and still has the potential to be a top flight major league pitcher, but probably not next year.
That is 16 (12) pitchers competing for 6 spots. The Twins will no doubt add some additional pitchers to the mix via either free agency or trade. With Perkins the only guy who was successful last year in the setup role, the Twin probably need to add an established pitcher as a right handed partner for Perkins. But I would expect a hot competition in spring training between the other pitchers listed above.