Only One Spot to Address for 2015?
Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA Today SportsHere's the lineup that Ron Gardenhire has written out for each of the last three games:
Danny Santana, CF
Brian Dozier, 2B
Joe Mauer, 1B
Kennys Vargas, DH
Oswaldo Arcia, RF
Trevor Plouffe, 3B
Kurt Suzuki, C
Eduardo Escobar, SS
Jordan Schafer, LF
Each of those players remains under team control for 2015 and, with the exception of Schafer, each has a strong case to deservingly remain a starter going forward.
There are a few positions that carry some uncertainty, most notably third base and center field (I continue to believe Santana should go to short with Escobar sliding into a utility role), but Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton figure to come along and entrench themselves at some point during the season.
The only position where the Twins clearly need some help is left field. One possibility is that Aaron Hicks will end up there, but it's a bit hard to count on him at this point. Eddie Rosario is another candidate but he's probably still a ways off.
So the Twins would be smart to pursue an impact outfielder during the offseason, but the rest of the starting lineup appears to be pretty much locked in. And, similarly, there isn't much room for additions on the pitching staff.
Sure, preventing runs has once again been an issue for the Twins this year. But are they really going to spend big money on bringing in another starting pitcher when they've already got Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson, Tommy Milone, Trevor May, Alex Meyer and Mike Pelfrey all set to return to the mix (and Jose Berrios potentially emerging as an option midseason)? At most, I could see the team taking a couple low-cost gambles, but it doesn't make much sense to keep adding guaranteed contracts to that group.
Ditto for the bullpen. This unit will be bringing back some core members -- Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Caleb Thielbar, Anthony Swarzak, possibly Brian Duensing -- and they've got a handful of options currently in Triple-A that are at least as appealing as the majority of arms that will be available in free agency.
With an $85 million payroll this year, the Twins are well below their spending limit, even by their own admission. That means they will have money available to spend this offseason, but as long as there aren't any major changes in the final month, and as long as no one is traded, there will be few places to spend it.
The takeaways from this overview?
1) Don't freak out if the Twins don't throw money around this offseason. For the first time in several years, a quiet winter would actually be quite justifiable, because...
2) The rebuild is finally coming together. Capable young players are starting to fill every position, and that's why -- despite the lack of on-field success -- the final months of this season are proving much more satisfying than years past.
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