Let's look at some of the recent free-agent signings and trades that have happened.
Jeff Samardzija (SP)
The White Sox received Samardzija from the Oakland As for Marcus Semien (SS), Chris Bassitt (potential SP or long reliever) and a PTBNL. Both Semien and Bassitt are pretty decent prospects and the White Sox will only control Samardzija for one year, but still - that is relatively little to give up for a #2 starter like Samardzija. There is this perception that top-flight starters are expensive, but this is a case where I feel the White Sox didn't have to give up much to get one. Samardzija gives the White Sox a potent 1-2-3 in their rotation (along with Chris Sale and Jose Quintana) and along with the acquisition of David Robertson (FA RP), makes them look a whole lot better on paper than they did just a few weeks ago. I think they overpaid for Robertson (4-yrs, $46M) but that's not the point. The point is that the White Sox made themselves relevant and didn't have to make a bunch of moves to do so.
Brandon Moss (OF and 1B)
The Indians traded a no-name Double-A infielder (Joe Wendle) and landed Moss, who has the chance to be a really nice fit with the Indians. The best thing for both parties is probably that it gets him out of Oakland and the Oakland Coliseum, where he was terrible at the plate. In 70 games at Oakland last year, his triple-slash was .197/.299/.404 and in 77 games on the road it was .265/.364/.467. This is another example of a team that spent very little to get something decent in return. Moss is under team control until 2017 and will add potency to an offense that is already trending up. As for the Twins - Moss doesn't really address any of their needs as the Twins are already log-jammed at 1B and in the Outfield.
Josh Donaldson (3B)
Donaldson was traded from the Oakland As to the Blue Jays for Brett Lawrie, Kendall Graveman and Sean Nolin. This trade doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but there had been some mention of Donaldson not seeing eye-to-eye with Billy Beane so maybe there is more to this story. Donaldson has been one of the top 3rd basemen in baseball over the last two seasons whereas as Brett Lawie has been oft-injured and inconsistent so far in his career. Both players have 4-years of team control left and Billy Beane is a well-respected GM, so we'll give the benefit of the doubt to him for making this move. From the Twins standpoint, again, this wouldn't have made much sense for them. If you believe Miguel Sano is your future at 3B and that Sano is close to assuming that role, then there is no need for a guy like Donaldson. And besides, that's a lot to give up in a trade, even for a guy like Donaldson.
Yasmany Tomas (OF, possibly 3B)
This Cuban outfielder received a lot of hype prior to his signing and has been compared to Jose Abreu, last year's ROY in the American League. A lot of teams were interested in Tomas, but it was the Diamondbacks that ultimately won out, landing Tomas on a 6-year, $68.5MM deal. This one, like the Samardzija deal, really sticks in my craw. To me, landing this guy would have been a great move for the Twins. Granted, it would further muddle their outfield situation, but if they had taken the $10.5MM they are going to pay Hunter this season and instead, spent that money on Tomas, I would feel a whole lot better. Tomas has great potential and if he's anything like Abreu, that contract is going to be a STEAL. In my mind, the International market is a great place for the Twins. Unfortunately they were burned in their most public International move when they signed Nishioka and he turned out to be an epic bust. I don't know if they are just scared to sign International players or what, but the recent crop of International players has been pretty impressive with the likes of Abreu, Iwakuma, Cespedes, Puig, and Darvish (to name a few). Just imagine an outfield of Buxton, Tomas and Arcia for the next 5+ seasons...sounds pretty good doesn't it?
Andrew Miller (RP)
Miller signed with the Yankees as a free-agent on a 4-year, $36MM contract. I don't have much commentary on this trade. If there is one thing that Twins FO has been competent at in recent years, it is signing relievers. The Twins don't need a closer and 4-year contracts for relievers seem like a bad idea to me. Miller wasn't going to sign for less than a 4-year deal and it was reported that he had a 4-year, $40MM offer from the Astros in the case that the Yankees decided to pass.
Nick Markakis (OF)
Markakis signed a 4-year, $44MM deal with the Atlanta Braves. Again, not much commentary here. Markakis has been up and down over the past few years and while he seems to have some value in the field (Gold Glove winner in 2014), his hitting has been inconsistent and signing him wouldn't have necessarily been that much of an upgrade in the outfield for the Twins. With that being said, spending that $10.5MM on the 31-year-old Markakis could have made a lot more sense than spending it on Hunter. I have to keep reminding myself that Hunter is just a one-year thing.
**Markakis' battery-mate Nelson Cruz also signed a 4-year deal this off-season with the Mariners for $57MM. The same comments that I have about Markakis apply to that deal. Baltimore got one heck of a season out of Cruz for only $8MM.
Jason Heyward (OF) / Shelby Miller (SP)
This was definitely the blockbuster trade of the off-season so far. As much as I would love for the Twins to get either of these players...I don't think the Twins would have had anything to offer either the Braves or the Cardinals that would have come close to the likes of Heyward and Miller. The deal was great for the Braves in the sense that Miller is under team control until 2018. For the Cards, they get an excellent outfielder for at least this next season and could be fixing to sign Heyward to a long-term deal. They also received Jordan Walden from the Braves who is a pretty good set-up man.
Those are just a handful of the recent trades and signings in baseball. There had been a boatload of other far less sexy acquisitions. The only two that really bother me as a Twins fan are the Samardzija and Tomas deals. There are still a number of intriguing free-agents that the Twins could potentially be in on including: Brandon Beachy, Ervin Santana, Justin Masterson (probably not), Brett Anderson, Luke Gregorson, Josh Johnson,