2018 Minnesota Twins Roster Projections (1.0)
Image courtesy of David Richard, USA TodaySo 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.
THE HITTERS (13)
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.
THE PITCHERS (12)
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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