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Twins Roster Projection 2017: Version 3.0

The Twins are less than two weeks from packing up from Ft. Myers and heading north to open the 2017 season. There are currently 48 players on the Twins spring roster which means they have a lot of decisions and transactions to make in the next week to ten days. As I am leaving Ft. Myers, I’m going to try to piece together a projection for the Twins opening day roster. Opinions are mine and certainly subject to change in the coming days.
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Danny Santana)
So here is my third attempt at projecting the Twins Opening Day roster… I encourage you to read my thoughts, develop your own and then post your thoughts and projections in the comments below.


THE HITTERS

Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez

Jason Castro will be the primary catcher. He will likely catch 110-120 games, so the question will be who can start behind the plate in the other 40-50 games.

Mitch Garver didn’t get much opportunity again this spring, but the manager likes his game. He was sent down on Saturday, his first option. Murphy hasn’t actually played much either. He’s got one option year remaining. Gimenez feels like the leading candidate to be the backup catcher. Veteran leadership plays into that. His ability to play a couple other positions helps.


Infielders (5): Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar

The starting infield is set. Joe Mauer will start most often at first, with Brian Dozier Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano also starting. None of those are at all surprising. Jorge Polanco’s defense, at least from my opinion, seems to have improved so far this spring, and really in the last three weeks or so. The throws have been more consistently solid.

Escobar is competing with the likes of Ehire Adrianza, Tommy Field and Bengie Gonzalez for the primary utility infield job, but he would certainly still be the favorite. Adrianza is, however, out of options, and Field is not on the 40-man roster. Could the Twins have a second utility infielder?

Still in the game: Ehire Adrianza, Tommy Field, Matt Hague, Bengie Gonzalez


Outfielders (5): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman, Danny Santana

Like the infield, the starting outfield is also pretty well set. Rosario has been starring for Puerto Rico in the WBC. Buxton and Kepler are parts of the next core of Twins players and will get every opportunity this year.

So, the question really becomes the fourth outfielder. I will contend and assume that Grossman will be on the roster, and he has played a lot of outfield this spring, especially with Rosario gone.

And yes, I fully expect Danny Santana to make the Opening Day roster. He is getting a lot of playing time and making starts all around the diamond. Many readers (or at least many of those who choose to comment) aren’t big Santana fans. At the same time, he can hit a little, and he can play adequate defense at six positions. That is kind of the definition of a 25th man.

Still in the game: Drew Stubbs, JB Shuck


Designated Hitter (1): Kennys Vargas

I haven’t had the DH position on its own in the past, but I think it’s worth its own discussion. Kennys Vargas has been the favorite, but he went to the WBC and hasn’t played much. The Twins did get the fourth year option for him, so it’s entirely possible he starts in Rochester. Byungho Park is no longer on the 40-man roster, but he came to spring training healthy and he has hit well this spring. He has a much better walk-to-strikeout rate and looks more comfortable.

And, I wouldn't be opposed to a scenario in which Robbie Grossman is the primary DH. You could keep an extra outfielder around, and you can get DH at-bats for Mauer, Sano and even Dozier or other guys in need of a game off from the field. In that scenario, any one of the extra infielders or outfielders would be added.

I still think Vargas remains the favorite, but he’ll likely have to show something in the two final weeks of spring training.

Still in contention: Byungho Park, Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen

POSSIBLE LINEUPS
Primary lineup versus RHP: Byron Buxton CF, Joe Mauer 1B, Brian Dozier 2B, Miguel Sano 3B, Max Kepler RF, Kennys Vargas DH, Eddie Rosario LF, Jason Castro C, Jorge Polanco SS

Versus LHP: Byron Buxton CF, Robbie Grossman LF, Brian Dozier 2B, Miguel Sano DH, Kennys Vargas 1B, Max Kepler RF, Eduardo Escobar 3B, Chris Gimenez C, Jorge Polanco SS.

Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are the guys I want in the lineup almost every day. Kennys Vargas is in both lineups, but I would use the DH spot to also give “half days off” to guys like Dozier and Mauer and Grossman as well.


THE PITCHERS

Starting Pitchers (5): Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Hector Santiago, Jose Berrios

The first four will be in the starting rotation on Opening Day. We’ve known that for months. The question remains, who will be the fifth starter. Ten days ago, the answer “Trevor May” was becoming much more likely as he was pitching well. Unfortunately, May has a torn UCL and will miss the 2017 season.

I still think that Jose Berrios maintains a slight lead for the fifth starter job. He had a solid performance in his first WBC start, and he could be the starter for Team Puerto Rico in the championship game, if they get there.

Still in contention: Tyler Duffey, Justin Haley, Ryan Vogelsong, and Adalberto Mejia.

Tyler Duffey has made starts the last couple of years. He was terrific in 2015, and he really struggled in 2016. His two-pitch mix would likely play better in the bullpen. Justin Haley struggle again on Sunday, giving up four runs in just two innings. As a Rule 5 pick, much more goes into the decision of whether or not to keep him on the roster than just his performance on the mound. Ryan Vogelsong made a start this week and topped out at 88 but many are impressed with his veteran-ness. Adalberto Mejia’s start this week was very impressive, striking out 11 batters in just 3.2 innings. He’s the “prospect” of this group and has some really good stuff. He’s close.


Bullpen (7): Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly, Matt Belisle, JT Chargois, Taylor Rogers, Craig Breslow, Tyler Duffey.

Brandon Kintzler will go into the season as the closer. Matt Belisle and Ryan Pressly will certainly be set up men. Taylor Rogers has secured one of the left-handed bullpen spots.

With Mike Berardino’s reports that Craig Breslow is likely to be added to the 40-man roster early this week, it also appears that the second left-hander job has been determined.

As I’ve written many times before, JT Chargois should never spend another day in the minor leagues, but I don’t think he’s a given yet. He needs to find a way to improve his efficiency and be more consistent.

So there are six spots taken for a seven-person bullpen. That means there is just one more spot, and there are a lot of options.

So my prediction for today is that Tyler Duffey will be the seventh reliever. His inability to add a third pitch has continued, and his fastball/breaking ball combination could be elite working an inning or two at a time. Also, with the other six, there really isn’t a guy who can go more than two innings. Duffey could do that when needed.

Others in Contention: Michael Tonkin, Justin Haley, Ryan Vogelsong, Ryan O’Rourke, Buddy Boshers.

We’ll see how the final roster cuts come. Some are still quite clear, while others could become really, really interesting over the next ten days.

What are your thoughts? What does your roster look like?

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86 Comments

When you say Santana can hit a little, and play adequate defense, what do you mean? Because by statistical measures, he's one of the five worst players in MLB the last 2 years. So, I'm genuinely curious what those two statements mean.

 

who is Gimenez mentoring or leading? Certainly not a catcher, and probably not any young pitchers (as Berrios and Chargois are your only real young guys, since Haley is only making the roster because he is a rule 5 pick, not based on what he's shown at all). I'd think Castro and Santana are enough leadership for the SPs, with plenty of veteran RPs to mentor your 1-2 young players.

 

I hope you are right on Berrios. If their best pitching coach is in the majors, I'd want him there.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, alarp33, mikelink45 and 7 others like this

I thought we fixed the glitch in regards to D Santana. 

 

MiltonOfficeSpace_thumb.jpg

    • Mike Sixel, alarp33, wsnydes and 3 others like this
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ChiTownTwinsFan
Mar 20 2017 09:36 AM
Santana doesn't seem able to make it through a game without some kind of an error or misplay. I wouldn't call that adequate at all.

I wouldn't be unhappy (or surprised) if Mejia supplanted Berrios as the 5th starter with Berrios coming up at the first opportunity. We'll have to see how he is after coming off the WBC (when it's over) not pitching to decide. If he's not up to opening day speed, then so be it.
    • Mike Sixel, nicksaviking, beckmt and 3 others like this

 

Santana doesn't seem able to make it through a game without some kind of an error or misplay. I wouldn't call that adequate at all.

I wouldn't be unhappy (or surprised) if Mejia supplanted Berrios as the 5th starter with Berrios coming up at the first opportunity. We'll have to see how he is after coming off the WBC (when it's over) not pitching to decide. If he's not up to opening day speed, then so be it.

 

I also would not mind Mejia over Berrios for the 5th starter. Really anyone over Vogelsong. Though I did get a good chuckle out of this line describing Vogelsong: "many are impressed with his veteran-ness" 

 

Picturing in my head Berrios and Mejia watching in AWE, maybe even recording it on Instagram that a 39 year old can throw a ball 88 MPH. 

    • Mike Sixel, Ryan Atkins, Twins33 and 6 others like this
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nicksaviking
Mar 20 2017 09:46 AM

 

Santana doesn't seem able to make it through a game without some kind of an error or misplay. I wouldn't call that adequate at all.

I wouldn't be unhappy (or surprised) if Mejia supplanted Berrios as the 5th starter with Berrios coming up at the first opportunity. We'll have to see how he is after coming off the WBC (when it's over) not pitching to decide. If he's not up to opening day speed, then so be it.

 

I would prefer Berrios in the rotation over Mejia but I'd like them both. Putting Mejia in first might accomplish that goal fastest simply because everyone wants Berrios to get a spot so he's less likely to be held back by a semi-competent veteran starter. Also, the Twins likely will insist on having at least one lefty in the rotation, so if Mejia performs fine at the onset, it will be easier for the Twins to make other arrangements with Santiago.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

I guess I'm a little confused with the obsession over veteran leadership when we have Santana, Hughes, Castro, Dozier, Mauer plus a few others. How much veteran leadership do you need?

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, beckmt and 9 others like this

 

I guess I'm a little confused with the obsession over veteran leadership when we have Santana, Hughes, Castro, Dozier, Mauer plus a few others. How much veteran leadership do you need?

 

All of it.

 

Players with less than 3 years experience:

Sano, Buxton, Rosario, Kepler, Polanco (sort of), Grossman, Chargois (maybe), Haley, Berrios (maybe). Did I miss someone? *

 

16 veterans for 9 players with less than 3 years experience....that seems like plenty of leaders per "youth".

 

*odds are, I did.....OTOH, it is possible that Berrios and Chargois don't make the opening day roster, though I am pretty sure Chargois will.

    • Tibs likes this
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Brock Beauchamp
Mar 20 2017 10:04 AM

Flip a coin for Berrios or Mejia, I don't care. It's the kind of decision I could defend if it goes either way.

 

But never Vogelsong.

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Mike Sixel, gunnarthor and 14 others like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Mar 20 2017 10:05 AM

Great job, thanks for doing this. I think the final roster will have 4  differences from what you wrote:

 

(1) Park will get the chance to be the primary DH/backup 1B rather than Vargas. Parker has done well in spring training, Vargas hasn't played a lot in the WBC and they got an extra option year for him. He will start in Rochester and the first man up if Park struggles.

 

(2) Haley will be in the bullpen instead of Duffy. They are still starting Duffy and I think want him to remain a starter, albeit in Rochester to start the season, and I think Haley has shown enough that they will want to keep him. I expect Duffy will get to start on the Twins at some point this year do to either injury or the ineffectiveness of others, although he will be the second man called up behind the loser of the Berrios/Mejia battle for the fifth starter spot. I think you call that one right with Berrios starting out there.

 

(3) Sadly, I do think you're right that the Santana will stay with the big club while  Adrianza will play short in Rochester assuming he clears waivers. I just think that Molitor will be more comfortable with Santana  since he can play multiple positions (all poorly) and otherwise Grossman is the only backup outfielder. I personally think we should keep Adrianza on the big club as insurance in case Polanco can't field the position.. Escobar does not give me any comfort as an everyday shortstop.I also would not be surprised if Escobar is traded before spring training is over to a team needing at shortstop.

 

(4) Everybody needs to stop it with projecting Buxton as the leadoff hitter.. He is nowhere near ready to handle the pressure of that position. He should hit nine with Polanco leading off or, if we want to get more Sabremetrically oriented, Mauer and Grossman leading off because of their high OBP. 

    • hybridbear and youngtwinsfan like this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Mar 20 2017 10:11 AM
I would also prefer Boshers or O'Rourke as a lefty specialist to Breslow.
    • jud6312 likes this

 

When you say Santana can hit a little, and play adequate defense, what do you mean? Because by statistical measures, he's one of the five worst players in MLB the last 2 years. So, I'm genuinely curious what those two statements mean.

 

 

I would hate to find out what a player looks like who can't "hit a little" or "play adequate defense" if we're attaching both of those labels to Santana

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, markos and 3 others like this
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ChiTownTwinsFan
Mar 20 2017 10:19 AM

Flip a coin for Berrios or Mejia, I don't care. It's the kind of decision I could defend if it goes either way.

But never Vogelsong.


Yeah. This pretty much. For me I'd like them both, but if it's one or the other, who is most ready Apr. 1. That may not be Berrios. Then whoever it's not, I'd like them up at the first opportunity.
    • Mike Sixel likes this
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stringer bell
Mar 20 2017 10:23 AM
I'm guessing that Gimenez does win the backup catcher position. I like to see righty/lefty balance so adding Breslow makes some sense and perhaps Meijia getting the nod over Berrios, with JO getting the call whenever somebody scuffles or is injured. Santana, Park or maybe Adrianza have a shot for the last position player on the team. I also think one of Haley or Vogelsong will make the club as a long man with the other guy out of the organization.
    • Ryan Atkins likes this

 

I would hate to find out what a player looks like who can't "hit a little" or "play adequate defense" if we're attaching both of those labels to Santana

6460472.jpg

 

(I couldn't resist).

    • BK432, Mike Sixel, alarp33 and 16 others like this

I like the idea of Vargas starting in AAA and letting the DH position move around a bit, with Grossman getting some platoon time there.  Eventually, I think Park gets put back on the 40 man.

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SF Twins Fan
Mar 20 2017 10:56 AM

What scares me the most with keeping all of the "adequate" veteran players around for the start of the season is that 22 of the first 25 games of the season are against the Central Division.  If the Twins are keeping players around who aren't as good as some of these young guys just for veteran leadership and they get off to a bad start the season is going to be over before the end of April.

    • johnnies07, jud6312 and Dave The Dastardly like this

Danny Santana 2017 WAR: Over/Under 0.0?

 

Danny Santana 2017 WAR: Over/Under 0.0?

Yes.

    • Seth Stohs, James, IndianaTwin and 3 others like this

I do not think Haley makes the team.I believe the 5th starter will be Mejia.I like the thought of Duffey in the pen, but think he will start to make the transition in Rochester.This is where they stuff Haley if they send Duffey to Rochester.Both the pen and the starting staff will have changes this year and this is the show me area of the team.

I also think Park will start as the DH and Vargas will be optioned to Rochester.

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this

 

Danny Santana 2017 WAR: Over/Under 0.0?

 

Under, assuming he plays more than 10 games. Under.

    • alarp33, Oldgoat_MN and jud6312 like this

My concern is the veteran factor - one I cannot accept.  As I wrote in another forum - we not only have a number of veterans around on the mound, at 1st, at 2nd, we have veteran coaches, more than ever before, and three hang around and be a veteran presence guys in Hawkins, Cuddyer, and Hunter.  We do not need more clogging the roster.  Breslow has not looked good.  Let him go.  Get on with the young players.  We need players to be ready in the next few years, Breslow is going to flame out and not be there when a good pitcher is needed. Vargas vs. Park is interesting and I have to think that Park is putting on a good show to be kept and I think Molitor would lean towards him.  I do not care about Santana at this point, the under performing vets are more of a concern.  Get the first 24 right then we can worry about Santana.

 

    • Mike Sixel, Vanimal46, ToddlerHarmon and 2 others like this

 

6460472.jpg

 

(I couldn't resist).

 

You win. 

    • USAFChief, James, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this
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Ryan Atkins
Mar 20 2017 12:53 PM

This strikes me as a rather "safe" roster, nothing unexpected. I like what I've seen from Matt Hague this Spring, but I don't think there is any hope for him save for an injury.

 

I hope that management decides to take at least one gamble. And for me, that gamble would be to put Adalberto Mejia into the rotation for at least 5 starts.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, gunnarthor and 2 others like this
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Halsey Hall
Mar 20 2017 01:30 PM

I see Park as the dh and Vargas either being released or back at AAA.I think Mejia has a real good shot at the rotation.The rest looks likely.

    • USAFChief, Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN and 2 others like this
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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Mar 20 2017 02:15 PM

I think there'll be several differences when the team goes north:

• Haley will be in the bullpen, and Chargois will be at AAA.

• Mejia is the fifth starter, over Vogelsong and Berrios.

• Park will be DH/1B; Vargas at AAA.

• Adrianza and Escobar will be the backup infielders.

• Danny Santana will be released or sent down. Grossman will be the fourth OF.

 

I do agree that Gimenez will be the backup catcher, and could play in the outfield as well. What they do with Danny Santana is, in my mind, the biggest question mark. He's been hitting well this spring, but really doesn't have a position, and he doesn't have the power to be a DH. But he's been hitting real well, and in some crucial spots, so they might give him a chance. But I'd hate to lose Adrianza.

 

 

    • Oldgoat_MN and ToddlerHarmon like this

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