Where Are We Now?
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas, USA TodayAs they head to the Winter Meetings, here is a quick look at where they are today. This will give you a better idea of what their needs are and what types of conversations may be had this coming week
Let's take a look around the diamond and see what the Twins roster might look like if the season were to start today. Hopefully it gives Twins fans a glimpse at the work that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have ahead of them to fill out Rocco Baldelli's first Opening Day roster:
Catcher - Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
Jason Castro is expected to return to the field in 2019 after missing most of 2018 following knee surgery. Mitch Garver showed improvement at the plate and behind the dish. Willians Astudillo can provide some depth as well.
Infield/DH - CJ Cron, Tyler Austin, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Ehire Adrianza
Cron and Austin would split the first base and DH duties. Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco will again man the left side of the infield with Sano getting some DH time too. As of today, Ehire Adrianza would probably be the starting second baseman with Nick Gordon continuing to work in Rochester. Oh, and Willians Astudillo can provide some depth as well.
Outfield - Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave
Rosario had another strong season in 2018, cementing himself in the lineup. Buxton struggled early and then broke his toe and was never really given a chance to recover properly. But when healthy and with his legs (and feet and toes) under him, he's the best outfielder in the game. Can his offense be what it was in the second half of 2017? Max Kepler hasn't taken a step forward, but he's provided strong defense and 20 homer power. Jake Cave had a nice second half with the Twins, showing that he can be a big league contributor. Zack Granite and Michael Reed provide the team with other options in the outfield, along with recent 40-man add LaMonte Wade. And again, maybe Willians Astudillo can provide some depth.
Starting Pitchers - Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda
These four are written into the Twins starting rotation in at least some variety of ink, even if that is that erasable ink that just kind of makes a mess on the paper. Berrios became an All-Star and took a step forward in 2018. Kyle Gibson put together easily his best season and is now just one year away from free agency. Odorizzi is also one year from free agency. He finished pretty strong, and it will be interesting to see how he performs under Baldelli. Pineda will return after Tommy John surgery (and a late-season knee injury), hoping to get back to his old form, which was all-star caliber.
The question becomes...
Fifth Starter Options - Fernando Romero, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves, Chase De Jong, Adalberto Mejia, Zack Littell, Aaron Slegers, Lewis Thorpe
The Twins certainly have options for the fifth starter position, and some are more ready than others, and some certainly have a higher ceiling than others. How comfortable would you be with going into the season with one of these eight options as the team's fifth starter?
The Bullpen: Trevor May, Addison Reed, Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger
I've written before that I think these four are the givens to be in the Twins 2019 Opening Day bullpen (pending trades, injuries, etc.).
The Rest of the Bullpen: Gabriel Moya, Andrew Vasquez, Matt Magill, John Curtiss, Tyler Duffey
Along with this group, the fifth starter options could also factor into the bullpen equation as well. It will be interesting to see what the Twins do, and how the opener fits into that as well. Moya and Vasquez are the lefties. Magill and Duffey and a guy like Mejia could provide length out of the bullpen. And hey, maybe even Willians Astudillo could provide depth.
So, what do the Twins need to do over the remainder of the offseason?
(Note - I didn't say just by the end of the Winter Meetings because as we see every year, the Winter Meetings have some moves, but they are mostly filled with rumors of teams talking and teams talking to agents, etc. Additional note - The Twins will likely have conversations with almost all of the rest of the teams, and with most of the agents. Also, there are actual meetings during the Winter Meetings that front office staffs need to attend.)
1.) Bullpen - I would be surprised if the Twins don't target one or two quality bullpen arms.
2.) Middle Infield - The Twins could target either a second baseman or a shortstop and move Jorge Polanco accordingly. But they will need one. With Nick Gordon likely ready sometime late in 2019 and Royce Lewis likely ready sometime in 2020, will they want a more short-term option?
3.) Starting Pitcher - Of course this can be higher, but I am of the opinion that if you're not going to sign a real difference-maker, just give the young guys a shot. With Gibson and Odorizzi and Pineda all potential free agents following the 2019 season, it is reasonable to go after starters. Patrick Corbin is the pipe dream. Dallas Keuchel and JA Happ would be solid signs. The trade market could be interesting. Personally, I don't like the idea of trading a bunch for Zack Greinke unless the Diamondbacks take back a huge chunk of his remaining salary. 35+ year old pitchers are scary in the long-term. Cleveland has made some starters available, and they would be intriguing. There are likely other pitchers available who are interesting as well (Marcus Stroman could be one).
4.) First base/DH - Even with the signing of CJ Cron and Tyler Austin being on the roster, the Twins could look to add a left-handed hitting first base type. This is less likely if they really like Austin's potential because of the likely need for a 13-man pitching staff at times.
That's where the Twins roster is right this moment, as well as some areas of need.
What do you consider the Twins areas of strength, and how would you prioritize their areas of need this offseason?
- mikelink45, nclahammer, Dave The Dastardly and 2 others like this