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Minnesota Twins Roster Projection 4.0

We are now just over a week from Opening Day. As we get closer to Opening Day, I somehow feel much less certain about my predictions for the roster. The questions that were there at the beginning of the camp, to some degree, remain. In the meantime, a couple more have presented themselves.

This morning, the Twins optioned Max Kepler to Rochester, and Ryan Sweeney was given his release from the organization. There are now 35 players remaining at big league spring training. That’s nearly half of the number that began big league camp, but within a week, the Twins will have their final roster by dropping nine or ten more players (depending upon DL needs).

So, I thought it would be a good time for one final Roster Projection before Opening Day to discuss some of the remaining questions. Share yours below.
Image courtesy of Tyler Duffey (by Evan Habeeb, USA Today), Byron Buxton (by Jerome Miron, USA Today), Michael Tonkin (by Tim Fuller, USA Today)
(As always, this is just a projection, a prediction of what a roster could look like on Opening Day. It is fully my opinion based on observation, reading, and too much time thinking about such things. Names in bold are givens, in my opinion.)

Starting Pitchers (5):
Ervin Santana, Kyle Gibson, Phil Hughes, Tommy Milone, Tyler Duffey (remaining: Logan Darnell)

The top three pitchers have been announced as the Twins opening series starters. They have yet to name the fourth and fifth starters, so there are some questions. In my mind, Tommy Milone has been a given all along, even if they haven’t said it yet.

So, it really comes down to Tyler Duffey and Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco has pitched better, especially of late. Duffey has, frankly, struggled. They each have one more start to go before a decision would be made, and maybe they could both go to Washington and make starts before a final decision is made. I’m going to leave it at Tyler Duffey, but I feel very little confidence in that right now. In my mind, the Twins brass needs to ask this question; Is it better to have a two-pitch Duffey in the rotation right away, or better to send him to Rochester for two months to attempt to improve his change-up? Frankly, if he doesn’t develop the change-up as a quality third pitch, his long-term future is likely to be in the bullpen.

Relief Pitchers (8):
Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Fernando Abad, Ricky Nolasco, Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly (remaining: Ryan O’Rourke (40), Brandon Kintzler, Dan Runzler)

First, I think if Tyler Duffey is not named the fifth starter, he will be optioned to Rochester. However, if Nolasco is not a starter, they will have to move him to the bullpen. That’s just the reality. We will see how that goes. So, that’s either zero or one roster spot.

The first five names listed above are givens. No question about that in my mind. Though Abad hasn’t been great, I feel that he is going to be given a spot. Removing Mike Strong from the 40-man roster makes that even more likely.
So there are five givens, and since I show Duffey as starting, that would make Nolasco a given as well. That puts us as six, and I think that Ryan Pressly has earned a job. I bolded his name above as a given, but not 100% certain.

The elephant in the room remains Michael Tonkin. When I was there eight days ago, he was not good, and I was certain that he would not make the roster. In his most recent outing, he threw two terrific, perfect innings. He still throws 95. He has a slider. It just hasn’t translated well to the big leagues, though he was better last September.

The other option, and the option that I’m projecting today, is going with a 13-man pitching staff. That isn’t ideal in the middle of the season much less at the beginning. No one wants that. Molitor and Ryan know that isn’t ideal. But, if they have any belief in Michael Tonkin, they won’t let him go for nothing. (Note – I also think that Terry Ryan may be trying to make a trade.)

Catchers (2):
Kurt Suzuki, John Ryan Murphy (likely sent down yet: John Hicks (40), Juan Centeno)

Coming into spring training, it was pretty much a given that Suzuki would start and Murphy would be his backup. They added some quality AAA depth in John Hicks and Juan Centeno, a couple of 26-year-olds. 24-year-old Murphy has just two hits in 25 at-bats and has thrown out just one of six base stealers in camp. We all know that spring stats don’t mean much at all, and Murphy is someone they believe in. He needs to work with the big league pitchers. That said, you could argue that if Duffey, Berrios and Meyer are in the Rochester starting rotation, you could send him down for four to six weeks and have him work with those guys. If that were to happen, Hicks would be the Opening Day backup.

I still expect John Ryan Murphy to back up Kurt Suzuki to start the season.

Infielders (6):
Joe Mauer, Byung Ho Park, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Nunez (sent down yet: James Beresford)

These spots are pretty much already set. Beresford is still around, showing that he is likely in line for that Doug Bernier role that we’ve seen the last three years. If there is an opening for a backup infielder, I think Beresford is that guy. If there is an injury and they would need more of a starter (at SS or 2B), they would likely call up Jorge Polanco.

Not a lot more to say with this group. These have all been givens throughout the spring, and also remember that Danny Santana can play three infield spots as well.

Outfielders (4):
Eddie Rosario, Miguel Sano, Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia (sent down yet: Byron Buxton (40), Darin Mastroianni, Carlos Quentin)

All- right, here is where things get interesting for Twins fans, and more so, for Twins pitchers. Byron Buxton came to camp given the opportunity to win the starting center field job. He missed a couple of games with illness and one due to rain. He has been good, as expected, in the outfield. He has had a couple of good offensive games. Most of the time, he’s had a couple of bad at-bats each game, and one or two OK (or even good) at-bats as well when getting three or four plate appearances. I am starting to wonder if Buxton could start the season in Rochester. As we have said above with Duffey, or as we see with the Kepler demotion, there has to be a fine line between wanting to have the players on the big league roster with doing what is best for the players and the team in the short term and long term. It might be ideal for him to go to Rochester for a month and lead off every game. Get him as many at-bats as possible. Right now, I feel like the odds of Buxton being on the Opening Day roster right around 50/50.

If this is the outfield that they went with on Opening Day, there would be two possible outfield configurations lineups:

1.) Rosario (LF), Santana (CF), Sano (RF), or
2.) Arcia (LF), Rosario (CF), Sano (RF)

Obviously Arcia would be able to play right field as well to give Sano a day off if needed. Santana can at least cover some ground in the corner spots as well.

If Buxton is sent down, I don’t think it would be for very long. The Twins aren’t going to want to stay at 13 pitchers for very long. They want his defense and speed patrolling center field for the big league pitchers.

I’d also add that I think if Terry Ryan could trade Michael Tonkin before Opening Day, then Buxton would be in the big leagues and the Twins would have 13 hitters and 12 pitchers.

The Twins have just a few really tough decisions to make in the next seven days. I see there being 22 givens to be on the roster (pending injury, unexpected trade, etc.). That means three roster spots are up for grabs between these players:

(Tyler Duffey, Michael Tonkin, Byron Buxton, John Ryan Murphy, John Hicks, maybe Ryan O'Rourke)

YOUR TURN

Let’s see your rosters for Opening Day and what you would do.


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70 Comments

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 25 2016 10:12 AM

I'm beginning to think that Duffey will be the one sent down, and Buxton will be with the team. (Nolasco would move from relief to start, with Milone).

 

It just makes sense. You want Duffey to get his confidence back. You want Buxton patrolling Center Field. 

 

I just don't see the Twins going with 13 pitchers. If Duffey is with the Twins, Tonkin will be traded or sent through waivers.

    • stringer bell and spinowner like this

I think Duffey gets sent down and Nolasco is the fifth starter. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I think the Twins do that sort of thing. 

 

I do not agree that Buxton gets sent down. His spring hasn't been bad enough to require a demotion, and his fielding is so superior -- especially with Sano in RF -- that they'll want him up here. They've more or less said they expect his bat to take a while to adjust.

 

And keep in mind that Buxton pounded AAA last year. He pretty much needs to play at the major league level to adjust to major league pitching. 

    • alarp33, DiscGolfer and Lee-The-Twins-Fan like this
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bluechipper
Mar 25 2016 10:20 AM

I think Buxton is almost at 100% opening day center fielder, and about 75% that Ricky Nolasco is the #5 starter.

 

Ryan said the other day on MLB Tonight that all five starters have a lot of experience. Molitor didn't give that big of a clue during his interview though.

    • savvyspy and Vanimal46 like this

I remember when people said anyone questioning Buxton's hit tool was overly negative......

 

that would be an entirely depressing set of decisions, imo. Nolasco should be a starter, with 3 starts or so to show if he's got it or not. Duffey should be in the bullpen, with his 2 pitch selection, or to be the long man.

 

That OF is depressing, but I agree if Buxton is down, it is Arcia, Rosario, Sano, until Arcia shows he can't hit, then Santana moves into CF.

    • HitInAPinch and Vanimal46 like this

 

I think Duffey gets sent down and Nolasco is the fifth starter. I'm not a huge fan of it, but I think the Twins do that sort of thing. 

 

I do not agree that Buxton gets sent down. His spring hasn't been bad enough to require a demotion, and his fielding is so superior -- especially with Sano in RF -- that they'll want him up here. They've more or less said they expect his bat to take a while to adjust.

 

And keep in mind that Buxton pounded AAA last year. He pretty much needs to play at the major league level to adjust to major league pitching. 

 

I wouldn't say Buxton "pounded AAA last year." He hit in all 13 games and hit .400, but he didn't pound the ball at all. I watched or listened to pretty much all of those games. Most of the hits were slow rollers in the infield and some bloopers. He did hit a couple of balls really hard. 

 

I should point out also that if it was me, Buxton would be a given as the CF.

    • stringer bell likes this

I'm with the other guys.I think Duffey get's optioned to AAA.I also think Buxton get's sent down for some seasoning as well.Maybe a month, maybe just two weeks.But get him some confidence against AAAA pitchers and then unleash him up in MN.He seems to be coming around at the plate in terms of not striking out as much and his reaching base a decent amount in the last few games. Hopefully with some more AB's in Rochester he will be ready to stick in the majors.

I think that the Nolasco over Duffey in the rotation is a done deal.

 

based on this:


Is it better to have a two-pitch Duffey in the rotation right away, or better to send him to Rochester for two months to attempt to improve his changeup? Frankly, if he doesn’t develop the changeup as a quality third pitch, his long-term future is likely to be in the bullpen.

 

I think that, for the same reasons that May is in the pen (they need him there,) the Twins should bite the bullet and get Duffey in the pen as well. They are competing.And with that pen it will be difficult to compete.

 

Not sure about Tonkin as a lock.Before the other day against the Rays, I was pretty sure that he will not be there.Still, Pressly has been better all Spring and was better last season in the bigs. 

 

Abad, O'Rourke and Runzler all pitched about the same.Very few K's from Abad are bothersome. I think that the Twins' should go with the devil they know O'Rourke, who also happens to be on the 40-man roster.Unless Duffey gets a spot in the pen, I see Pressly and Kintzler.   

 

Just cannot be excited about this pen... Really.

 

 

    • Mike Sixel likes this

13 pitchers are too many also.There is no need to carry so many.

    • savvyspy and DAM DC Twins Fans like this

Buxton is already clearly a better player than Danny Santana. He's the starting CF.

 

The Twins really want Duffey to win that spot but the reports are not good. Makes me wish they had given Trevor May another week.

    • alarp33 likes this

 

I wouldn't say Buxton "pounded AAA last year." He hit in all 13 games and hit .400, but he didn't pound the ball at all. I watched or listened to pretty much all of those games. Most of the hits were slow rollers in the infield and some bloopers. He did hit a couple of balls really hard. 

 

I should point out also that if it was me, Buxton would be a given as the CF.

 

Uh, he had a .400 .441 .545 .986 line in those games. I know it's a small sample size, but I would definitely consider a .986 OPS "pounded." 

    • savvyspy likes this

 

Buxton is already clearly a better player than Danny Santana. He's the starting CF.

 

 

I don't think anyone would disagree.

 

I wouldn't say Buxton "pounded AAA last year." He hit in all 13 games and hit .400, but he didn't pound the ball at all. I watched or listened to pretty much all of those games. Most of the hits were slow rollers in the infield and some bloopers. He did hit a couple of balls really hard. 

 

 

 

>20% of his hits were extra base hits, yet "most of the hits" were rollers in the infield or bloops?

 

Relief Pitchers (8):
Glen Perkins, Kevin Jepsen, Trevor May, Casey Fien, Fernando Abad, Ricky Nolasco, Michael Tonkin, Ryan Pressly (remaining: Ryan O’Rourke (40), Brandon Kintzler, Dan Runzler)

 

The bullpen has Fien, Abad/O'Rourke, Tonkin and Pressly as givens if Ricky Nolasco (shudder) makes the rotation. Trevor May is being forced into service in the bullpen due to the lack of depth.Tell me which talented guys would be blocked if they had signed ONE good reliever to a two or three year deal? This bullpen is Perkins, Jepsen, May (unfortunately) and 4-5 warm bodies.

 

The good news is it should be REALLY EASY for Nick Burdi to get a callup this season.

    • Mike Sixel and spycake like this

 

>20% of his hits were extra base hits, yet "most of the hits" were rollers in the infield or bloops?

 

Which means >75% of his hits were singles. 

 

Again, don't get me wrong... if it was me, I'd have him up, and I still have him at 50/50, and I think that's probably a little low. And, of course, infield hits and turning singles into doubles and doubles into triple is part of what he does. 

    • curt1965 and Minniman like this

 

 

The good news is it should be REALLY EASY for Nick Burdi to get a callup this season.

 

And Rogers, and Chargois, and maybe Meyer, and maybe Reed, and maybe Melotakis.

    • DiscGolfer, DocBauer and curt1965 like this

I think if Carlos Quinten doesn't slow down the last week of camp he could be on the team as a ph 5th of/ 1b type.unfortunately if Buxton is starting in CF they may want someone to pinch hit for him or Suzuki in late innings in the early going. 

 

I think Nolasco is 5th starter because they have Duffy as a 6th starter and he has something to work on in the minors. 

 

I'm not sold on Tonkin making the team because we have such a wave of relievers coming it not a big loss to loose him.I do think he is a potentially solid reliever though.

 

I think Buxton starts in the majors.his results have been better.I think Arcia makes the team after the 2 HR game, especially if he keeps hitting till the end of camp.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 25 2016 10:48 AM

I agree. Buxton has little to prove in AAA. He'll be on the opening day roster.

Also the Twins usually have 2 or 3 off days in February making me think the Twins will start the season with 7 relievers instead of 8

 

Which means >75% of his hits were singles. 

 

Again, don't get me wrong... if it was me, I'd have him up, and I still have him at 50/50, and I think that's probably a little low. And, of course, infield hits and turning singles into doubles and doubles into triple is part of what he does. 

 

I looked quickly at games where he had hits... maybe missed some, but I see 2 infield hits out of the 22 total hits

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bluechipper
Mar 25 2016 10:54 AM

 

I think if Carlos Quinten doesn't slow down the last week of camp he could be on the team as a ph 5th of/ 1b type.unfortunately if Buxton is starting in CF they may want someone to pinch hit for him or Suzuki in late innings in the early going. 

 

I think Nolasco is 5th starter because they have Duffy as a 6th starter and he has something to work on in the minors. 

 

I'm not sold on Tonkin making the team because we have such a wave of relievers coming it not a big loss to loose him.I do think he is a potentially solid reliever though.

 

I think Buxton starts in the majors.his results have been better.I think Arcia makes the team after the 2 HR game, especially if he keeps hitting till the end of camp.

Oswaldo Arcia's 2 opposite field HRs off of lefties yesterday pretty much solidifies that Quentin is not making the team.

 

Oswaldo Arcia's 2 opposite field HRs off of lefties yesterday pretty much solidifies that Quentin is not making the team.

 

Yeah I was going to comment, I'm not sure how he sees Arcia and Quentin making the team.  

 

Quentin has hit the ball ok this Spring, I don't think that changes anything that everyone said back when he was signed. He doesn't fit the roster in the least... I could see him making sense if Park was so overmatched in Spring they needed to send him to AAA, but that's obviously not the case

I would be very disappointed if Buxton is not the opening day CF. For someone who's been hyped nationally for this long, consistently a top 2 prospect overall in the MLB, it's hard not to be impatient as a fan.
    • stringer bell and Dr. Evil like this
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bluechipper
Mar 25 2016 11:17 AM

 

I would be very disappointed if Buxton is not the opening day CF. For someone who's been hyped nationally for this long, consistently a top 2 prospect overall in the MLB, it's hard not to be impatient as a fan.

From what I've read, and from the interviews on MLB Tonight from yesterday, I find it really hard to believe that Buxton doesn't open the season with the Twins. 

 

I am also impatient sometimes when it comes to young guys, and I really want to see Buxton for the full season. I'm even hoping that he has a season that puts him up into the national conversations along with Correa, Bryant, and the other young guys who have seen immediate success.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 25 2016 11:18 AM

If Quentin makes the team, then Santana is put through waivers and sent down. The Twins can survive without Santana. But I predict Santana will make the team and Quentin will be out.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 25 2016 11:19 AM

Happy Good Friday and Easter everyone.

 

    • Seth Stohs, HitInAPinch, Homer Hanky and 1 other like this

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