Twins vice president of personnel Mike Radcliff will be scouting in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan in the coming weeks.
One player he and other Twins scouts will watch is Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka. Just 24-years-old, he's 18-0 with an ERA of 1.15 for the Rakuten Golden Eagles of the Pacific League. It's expected that Rakuten will post him this winter, nearly ensuring that he'll be in the majors next season. According to Baseball America, Tanaka hit 97 miles per hour on his 108th pitch in his most recent start. He's projected as a No. 1 or No. 2 starter in MLB.
At least one other pitcher the Twins are expected to scout while in is Japan is 32-year-old Randy Messenger. In 145 1/3 innings for the Hanshin Tigers, he has a 3.34 ERA. The Twins had talks about getting Messenger out of his contract in Japan last offseason.
With the contracts of first baseman Justin Morneau, pitchers Mike Pelfrey and Nick Blackburn, and infielder Jamey Carroll all removed from the payroll, the Twins are equipped to be big spenders in free agency if they choose to be.