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2018 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections (1.0)

The Twins have now played four spring training games. The regular season is only a month away. Many spots on the roster are pretty well set, but there are still some jobs up for grabs. Today, we’ll take a first run at an Opening Day roster. There are already a couple of disabled list moves, and there could be more of those, or other transactions. But, knowing what we know right now, we’ll attempt to make predictions and discuss the other options.
Image courtesy of David Richard, USA Today
So here is my first attempt at projecting the Twins Opening Day roster for 2018… I encourage you to read my thoughts, develop your own and then post your thoughts and projections in the comments below.


Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Mitch Garver

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.

The front office, at least to this point, has not provided Mitch Garver with any real competition for the #2 catcher spot. And, frankly, that is the right decision. Garver has hit at each level on the way up the system, including a big 2017 in Rochester. It’s his time to get a full season of service time. Also, his bat should play against left-handed pitchers and more.

Infielders (7): Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar, Logan Morrison, Ehire Adrianza, Erick Aybar, Miguel Sano (DL or suspended)

The starting infield is pretty well set, pending the Miguel Sano situation. Joe Mauer will be the main first baseman. Logan Morrison will play some first but primarily DH. Brian Dozier will start at second base. Jorge Polanco will be the shortstop. Miguel Sano will get a lot of time at third base when he’s able to play, but he’ll also likely spend plenty of time as the DH. Until then, Eduardo Escobar will get a lot of the playing time at third base.

When Sano is on the roster, Escobar again the primary utility infielder. In that scenario, Ehire Adrianza will most likely fall back to the second utility infielder. In that scenario, The addition of Erick Aybar is interesting. If Sano is not on the active roster, Aybar likely becomes the second utility infielder along with Adrianza. When Sano then is active, it will be interesting to see how the Adriana/Aybar situation plays itself out.

Still in the game: Kennys Vargas remains on the 40-man roster, but unless there is an injury, it’s hard to imagine a spot on the 25-man roster. Since he’s out of options, I would assume that the Twins will be looking to deal Vargas for something.

Outfielders (4): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman

Nothing falls but raindrops. The starting outfield remains intact from last year. Rosario had a bit of a breakout season in 2017. Byron Buxton was tremendous in the secomd half and won not only the Gold Glove but the Platinum Glove as well in 2017. Kepler had a similar 2017 as he had in 2016, and we’re all hoping that he’ll take a step forward in 2018. The defense is strong.

With the additions of Morrison and Aybar, the fourth outfield spot is now up for grabs. Robbie Grossman and Zack Granite are the two options, so there may be a bit of a competition. Right now, I’m projecting Grossman because he’s out of options and Granite has two options remaining.


Since it’s more fun to consider the Twins lineup with Miguel Sano in it, that’s what I’ve done below.

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

Versus LHP: Joe Mauer 1B, Brian Dozier 2B, Jorge Polanco SS, Miguel Sano 3B, Logan Morrison DH, Byron Buxton CF, Eddie Rosario LF, Mitch Garver C, Max Kepler/Robbie Grossman RF.


Starting Pitchers (5): Ervin Santana (DL), Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kyle Gibson, Adalberto Mejia, Phil Hughes

Will the Twins add another starter? Should they? Ervin Santana will miss the first month of the season with his finger injury. Obviously as soon as he is ready, he jumps right back into the rotation.

Jose Berrios has a chance to take a big step in 2018. Acquiring Jake Odorizzi recently for Jermaine Palacios was a very nice trade. Kyle Gibson? We can all hope that he truly figured something out over his final 12 starts last year. If he can be that for the full 2018 season, that’s going to be huge for the Twins.

I think there are two spots open in the Twins rotation until Santana comes back. I think Adalberto Mejia comes in with the first opportunity to win the job. I think that Stephen Gonsalves and Aaron Slegers also have at least some sort of chance to win a spot. But for right now, I’m going to put Phil Hughes as the fifth starter for right now. I mean, it would be great if the second thoracic outlet surgery is the charm. Reports from his first spring start indicated that he was hitting 91 mph with his fastball. That’s a good start.

It will also be very interesting to see how the Anibal Sanchez situation plays out. He has the non-guaranteed contract, so I think he’s going to have to pitch real well to make the ball club. Trevor May and Michael Pineda are on the 60-day disabled list already.

Bullpen (7): Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Trevor Hildenberger, Ryan Pressly, Zach Duke, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey.

The Twins front office made over the bullpen, to some degree. Veteran Fernando Rodney comes on as the team’s closer after a 39 save 2017 in Arizona. In 55.1 innings, he struck out 55. Addison Reed got a two-year deal. He’s been a strong reliever throughout his career and has 425 strikeouts in 401 innings. Hildenberger came up in June last year. By the end of the season, he was Molitor’s go-to guy in the bullpen in any situation. Ryan Pressly continues to be interesting. While he needed to spend time in AAA in 2017, he continues to have the best stuff in the organization. He throws hard and has that breaking ball.

Taylor Rogers was as reliable as any left-handed reliever in baseball the first three months of the season last year. He was probably over-used a bit and slowed in the second half. The addition of veteran Zach Duke should really help the Twins bullpen. He returned very quickly from Tommy John surgery last year and pitched well.

Tyler Duffey gets my choice for a job in long relief. Of the other six spots, there really isn’t anyone who should work more than two innings. And if the Twins decide to go with an eight-man bullpen to start the season, Phil Hughes might be the right choice because he too can eat innings and make those fifth-starter starts.

Others in Contention: Alan Busenitz also became very reliable down the stretch for the Twins last year. John Curtiss got called up right before September. Gabriel Moya came up from AA after helping the Lookouts to the Southern League championship. Dietrich Enns could be another long-relief candidate if he pitches well in spring. Tyler Kinley is the team’s Rule 5 pick, which in many years would give him the advantage. It may not for this year’s Twins team. The Twins want Fernando Romero to get stretched out as a starter, but his fastball/slider combination may be really, really intriguing to the Twins staff, especially in the second half.

In one month, the Twins will have broken camp and be preparing for Opening Day. So there is a lot of time left and a lot can happen. Who knows? The Twins could potentially add another player, or two, or three.

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

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Man imagine putting up a 1.99 ERA in your rookie season (Busenitz) and not being favored to make the team out of spring training. 


And then imagine posting a 4.50 ERA across 21 starts in the AL in your rookie season (Mejia) and not being considered a lock for the rotation next year. 


This game is too hard man. 

    • Shane Wahl, gunnarthor, jimbo92107 and 12 others like this

Change Hughes from pencil to ink, Seth.


Will be interesting to see how they deal with Vargas.Will they get much of anything in return if/when traded?And who will be the better hitter in 2018, Morrison or Vargas?Results come September could surprise us.

    • birdwatcher, jud6312 and BJames like this

Maybe they can trade Vargas to Miami and keep Kinley?I'm not really sure what they see in Kinley, but they clearly like something and, barring an injury, there's no room for him in the bullpen.They can't expect to get much back for Vargas when teams are just waiting for them to DFA him, but this way they'd at least get to keep working with Kinley. 

    • wavedog, mikelink45, howieramone2 and 2 others like this

Pressly is the other guy who I think might be out in the final end.Busenitz is the player I expect to make it.Pressly has never put it all together and with this club, potential is going to mean less than results. (At least I hope so). Would almost like them to deal him early, because late teams become more aware of who might be picked up at no cost (except for salary) and will not offer anything.  

Maybe he can be fixed, just do not think Twins can afford and try to figure that out.

    • jimbo92107, bluechipper, mikelink45 and 4 others like this
Feb 27 2018 07:16 AM
I hate to see Vargas shipped out without given an extended chance. More short bursts. But Morrison should be a good addition. Just curious on thought process behind it with a healing Sano and him being a lefty.
    • jud6312 likes this

I agree on Hughes(at least he will get a long look).If his FB can hold up in the low 90's, he should be able to pitch in this league.Otherwise be becomes a long man, spot starter(that may be his best role), if the Twins add another rotation option or Gonsalves or Romero forces their way onto the staff in spring training (and they may have no shot at this, I do not know).

    • bobs likes this

I like the thought of bring Romero north(if it looks like he is ready) in a long relief role.Just get his feet wet up here, you can then stretch him out here or send him to Rochester to be stretched out after Santana comes back.Or if he is really good, you get rid or option another player.You can never have too much pitching. 

    • tarheeltwinsfan likes this

The bullpen will be very fluid:I would not call Taylor Rogers, Trevor Hildenberger and Ryan Pressly locks at this point.They have to earn a position, and with the first 2 having options, it might work against them.If Hughes is healthy he will be on the 25 man roster, either as a starter or in the pen.Too early to tell about the rest despite the fact that Busenitz and Kinney Kinley bombed in their only appearances.Only Rodney, Reed, and Duke are locks.Another reason that things will be fluid is that I do not have it beyond them to sign another free agent here.They are 3-4 back of the pen types who can help them this season.


About that last starter spot:If Romero has 3-4more such appearances and then a couple more at 6+ innings, I would think that it will be his.Still a long shot but I will not write him (or anyone else, btw) off at this point.


I don't see Sano starting at the DL, if he can play during Spring.You just don't take the bat out of your best hitter's hands.Aybar, Adrianza, and Granite will be fighting for one spot in the bench.This team is infield heavy and Granite can provide good OF defense and PR abilities that the other 2 cannot.But he is yet another LH bat.We'll see how this plays. Vargas and Grossman will also be fighting for a single spot at this point.Grossman can play the OF, but about as well as Morrison can do, so that I do not see as an advantage.If Vargas shows that he is willing to take a base and starts hitting from the right side in Spring, he might have a job...


Still very fluid, esp. in the pen, but there are only a handful of jobs to go around, in general, unlike other seasons...

    • jimbo92107 likes this
I see a lot of lineup predictions with Mauer leading off. Makes sense on paper, but from what we have heard over the years Dozier is more comfortable leading off and Mauer likes to hit second. I think the comfort level of the veterans will influence the decision.
    • mikelink45, tarheeltwinsfan, Original Whizzinator and 1 other like this
Homer Hanky
Feb 27 2018 08:40 AM

I think Adrianza has to go... I would rather keep Granite and Aybar to have on the bench. Speed and experience... I also think Grossman is a goner at this  ☞ with LOMO able to play what he can! 

    • caninatl04 and BJames like this

Have there been any signs on MLB wrapping up their investigation? I think Sano starts the season on the roster and it's closer to June when they do whatever they do.


Other than that, nothing jumps out at me.


Given how rosters work, I assume Aybar and Pressly have the month of April to sink or swim.

    • Thrylos likes this

The bullpen sure looks better written out like that.

    • caninatl04 likes this


Maybe they can trade Vargas to Miami and keep Kinley?I'm not really sure what they see in Kinley, but they clearly like something and, barring an injury, there's no room for him in the bullpen.They can't expect to get much back for Vargas when teams are just waiting for them to DFA him, but this way they'd at least get to keep working with Kinley. 

What they can get back from Vargas depends on who's interested and if they think he would still be around to claim when it's their turn.

It will be interesting to see what they do with Trevor May.Usually injuries tend to make those decisions for you.Also, they only need a #5 starter 3-4 times before Erv comes back, so can we assume that Hughes may get used in the pen as well in this scenario?

Feb 27 2018 09:15 AM

I'm pulling for Granite.He gives the Twins much more flexibility than Grossman.


I'm also pulling for a healthy "unsuspended" Sano.This gives the Twins additional flexibility and a much deeper batting order.

    • Thrylos, jimbo92107, tarheeltwinsfan and 2 others like this

With all of the additions, it's great to see such depth in the bullpen...Busenitz, Curtiss and Moya all got outs for them last year during a playoff push...and in the rotation...May, Gonsalves, Romero, Littell?, a yet-to-be-signed-FA?

    • Original Whizzinator and BJames like this

Sorry, do not see Aybar making this club.He probably would have to do more than he is capable of to make it. I see Adrianza a better shot than Aybar, defends as well and is cheaper.I also see Grossman gone as do not see a role for him here with the Morrison signing.Would like to see Granite or Wade be the 4th outfielder, they both can field and run.I guess Grossman could make it as a platoon partner for either Rosario or Kepler, but think it is early in their careers to call them platoon players.

    • jimbo92107, Danchat and Eris like this

I'd like to see the F.O. go with more of the Upside players then based on past performance.This team need to look for players that will help them in Sept and Oct.Pressly Hughes and Grossman can be replaced with better talent. But, all three will be on the opening day roster and Vargas, Busenitz,Slegers,Gonsalves,Romero will be gone or having to be compete at AAA with more prospect like Jay,Wade,Littell,Curtiss and Rooker.

Seeing that Busenitz, Curtiss and Moya probably won't make the team, that makes losing those other relief pitchers to rule 5 OK. That would have just made two more minor league relief pitchers taking up 40 man roster spots.


It also shows the opportunity cost of not trading some of your prospects before you end of losing them. When you have a glut of prospects at one position, you have figure out the ones you like and trade the others for spots you are weak at.


I see the same thing happening with starting pitchers in the next year or two.

    • KidBro likes this
Feb 27 2018 10:19 AM

With Santana out and the tenuous certainty of every starter outside of Berrios, I think the last man in the bullpen is going to be a starter, either Slegers or Hughes would be my guess. I'd love for it to be Romero, but that's probably too bold. Gonsalves would make sense if the lefty reliever options didn't already go three deep.


I'm pulling for Granite.He gives the Twins much more flexibility than Grossman.


I'm also pulling for a healthy "unsuspended" Sano.This gives the Twins additional flexibility and a much deeper batting order.

Ditto on Sano...if he is suspended lets hope it is the wake up call he needs in his career. 

    • jimbo92107 likes this


I'm pulling for Granite.He gives the Twins much more flexibility than Grossman.


I'm also pulling for a healthy "unsuspended" Sano.This gives the Twins additional flexibility and a much deeper batting order.


Granite gives the Twins things they already have. OF defense is not a problem. LH batting is not a problem. Speed on the base paths is nice but your middle infield backups can provide that.


Grossman gives them OBP and a right handed bat to spell Rosario and Kepler in the OF and to be the right handed half of a DH platoon with Morrison early in the year.


If they get rid of Grossman (no options) for Granite (who has option) then they are not being smart.

    • ashburyjohn, Shane Wahl, jimbo92107 and 8 others like this


 Would like to see Granite or Wade be the 4th outfielder, they both can field and run.I guess Grossman could make it as a platoon partner for either Rosario or Kepler, but think it is early in their careers to call them platoon players.


I don't think it's platoon, it's about giving guys a day off sometimes. Kepler and Rosario can be sat against tough lefties and Grossman makes WAY more sense than the redundancy that is Granite/Wade. Those guys should be in AAA in case there's a longer term DL issue.


The Twins 4th OF is not a defensive replacement. He's a once-or-twice-a-week starter and a bench bat. A switch-hitting OBP guy should take that over a LH bat every day.

    • Tibs and howieramone2 like this

This had better be Hughes' last chance to stick on the roster, because I don't want to put up with another 5.87 ERA 1.58 WHIP with feeble K% numbers. I kinda wish the Twins could have re-signed Dillon Gee to fill that role.


I think Pressly is a virtual lock as they tendered his contract. He has the potential to be a really good reliever (1.16 WHIP w/ 9.0 K/9 last year) but gave up too many runs. This is his make it or break it season - the Twins need to move on if he can't improve his game.


In Spring Training, Hildenberger was talking like he wasn't guaranteed a job, so unless he falls apart in some March games, he should be a virtual lock. Rogers and Duke are locks as well.

    • Vanimal46 likes this

Versus LHP: Brian Dozier 2B, Robbie Grossman LF, Sano 1B, Byron Buxton CF, , Eduardo Escobar DH, Eddie Rosario RF, Mitch Garver C, Adrianza 3B.


Mauer and Morrison should be getting time off against lefties pretty consistently. I imagine you'll see guys like Escobar, Dozier, Grossman or Adrianza trying on the 1B mitt this spring if Sano looks DL/suspension bound.

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