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Recent Blogs


Projecting Minnesota’s 2024 Line-Up

Breakout your crystal ball or shake-up your Magic 8 ball as we investigate the future of the Minnesota Twins. Luckily, the organization is amid their winning window with a core of young talent already in the big leagues and other top prospects getting close to knocking on the door. As I do every winter, let’s prognosticate what the team’s line-up might look like four years from now.
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Catcher: Ryan Jeffers
Mitch Garver can be a free agent following the 2023 season, so it seems most likely for the Twins to turn over catching duties to Ryan Jeffers. The 2021 campaign will see Garver and Jeffers splitting time behind the plate. Jeffers is six years younger than Garver and he is a defensive upgrade behind the plate. Another name to consider is Ben Rortvedt who was added to the 40-man roster this winter. He has a chance to join Jeffers on the 2024 squad to be the team’s new catching duo.

First Base: Alex Kirilloff
Miguel Sano transitioned to first base in 2020, but he might be relegated to the role of designated hitter by 2024. Kirilloff has experience as an outfielder or as a first baseman and his bat is ready for the big leagues. He will likely take over for Eddie Rosario in the Twins outfield for 2021, but first base might end up being his long-term home. Minnesota has other big bats like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato that will need a line-up spot too, so it will be interesting to see how all these players progress in the years ahead.

Second Base: Luis Arraez
Arraez didn’t have a perfect 2020 season as he dealt with knee issues, but he was still able to post an impressive .321 batting average with nine doubles in 32 games. His defense is never going to be fantastic at second, but the Twins might help him improve by working on his defensive positioning or getting better defenders around him in the infield. Also, none of the second base options behind him in the organization will be pushing him out of the way. His bat is his ticket to a long-term big-league job and the Twins will still be happy to have him in the line-up in 2024.

Shortstop: Jorge Polanco
There is no guarantee that Polanco will even be the Twins starting shortstop in 2021, let alone still be playing the position in 2024. It seems more likely for the Twins to have another option at shortstop over the next couple seasons, which would allow Polanco to shift to a utility role. At this point, there are options in the minors like Royce Lewis, Wander Javier, and eventually, Keoni Cavaco. No, I don’t believe Polanco can stick at shortstop, but I also don’t think the team’s 2024 shortstop is in the organization yet.

Third Base: Josh Donaldson
Minnesota would need to pick up Donaldson’s 2024 option for him to make it into this line-up and that might be questionable in his age-38 season. It is a $16 million option, but the buyout is $8 million, which means the Twins will have an $8 million decision to make following the 2023 season. The Twins have some third base options in the minors and there is always a chance the team moves Royce Lewis from shortstop to third base.

Left Field: Trevor Larnach
Larnach doesn’t get as much hype as Kirilloff and Lewis, but he would be the top hitting prospect for other organizations. Also, he’s older than Kirilloff and the same age as Jeffers and Arraez. Back in 2019, the Twins named him their Minor League Player of the Year after he hit .309/.384/.458 with 44 extra-base hits. There’s a good chance he makes his debut in 2021 and he has a chance to be part of the Twins line-up for the better part of the next decade.

Center Field: Royce Lewis
Byron Buxton is a free agent following the 2023 season, so there a few different ways the team can go by 2024. Lewis has had questions about his defensive future since the Twins drafted him and he showed some positive signs when playing outfield in the 2019 Arizona Fall League. Minnesota is committed to him as a shortstop for now, but the story might be different in four years. Few question his athletic ability and playing another up-the-middle defensive position might be his long-term ticket to the big leagues.

Right Field: Max Kepler
Kepler, along with Sano, can fill the role the aging veteran on the 2024 Twins as they will both be in their age-31 seasons. The Twins would need to pick-up Kepler’s $10 million option for the 2024 season or work out a different extension to keep him on the roster. Since the start of the 2019 season, he has an .831 OPS and a 119 OPS+ while being a strong defender in the outfield. He seems like the type of player that can fill a veteran leadership role as younger pieces start to join the core that is already in place.

Designated Hitter: Miguel Sano
I was tempted to pencil in a 43-year-old Nelson Cruz as the team’s designated hitter with how ageless he has seemed during his Twins tenure. Sano is the logical choice to be the team’s DH by 2024, especially with his move to first base last year. Minnesota will have better defensive options at first and Sano can concentrate on doing what he does best, hitting monster home runs. Sano is only under team control through 2023, so the Twins will have the option to turn to one of the other big bats (Rooker, Sabato) in the organization as well.

What do you think the 2024 line-up will look like in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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13 Comments

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Twins_Fan_For_Life
Dec 27 2020 09:35 PM
Polanco is almost certainly a NO.
    • wabene and DannySD like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Dec 27 2020 10:18 PM
Will Nick Gordon get a chance by 2024?
    • DannySD likes this
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TwinsFan268
Dec 28 2020 07:47 AM

Hahaha oh my God 43-year-old Cruz YES

    • alphanumeric and wabene like this

Agree with almost everything you have written, Cody. On the other hand, expect your chances of being 100% accurate are close to zero. 

 

My hope would be that Buxton will be back and healthy. If he is, don't know what that means for Lewis, who will likely be somewhere in the lineup. 

    • mikelink45, Nine of twelve and Doctor Gast like this
Tomas Telis will win the batting title in 2024 as a 35 y/o catcher who hits .370, 20 doubles and 5 HRs
#ItsTelisTime
    • mikelink45 and DannySD like this

That was a fun dream.Now we wait for reality to set in.

Celestino will be in CF, Lewis at 3B and...

 

Wander Javier will have a great 2021, continue his rise in 2022, and be the starting SS by 2023!

 

How's that for outlandish optimism? 

    • denarded, TopGunn#22 and wabene like this

I think it's more likely Sabato is DHing in 2024 than the Twins extending Sano. Don't see any reason to think he'll ever get his Ks under control and, even with the mammoth HRs, he won't be worth the price of extending him over paying Sabato, or Larnach/Rooker/Kiriloff/rotating DH, league minimum at the time. Think we'll see someone other than Donaldson at 3B by then, too. Cavaco maybe ready to make his debut at some point in 2024? Probably more likely that Polanco is seeing time there with Lewis at SS (think the Twins are determined to keep him there if it's at all possible as they have way more OF youngsters at this time). If I'm right about Sano and Lewis I think there's a chance Buxton is still roaming CF in 2024 as I think they'd prefer to extend him over Sano if Buxton shows any ability at all to stay healthy and play 130+ games a year.

 

Jeffers, Kiriloff, Arraez, Larnach, Lewis, and Kepler all feel like guys the Twins have no interest in moving and will be the core of the lineup come 2024 with the rest being questionable to still be around and the team being more open to trading or replacing by 2024. I think they want Polanco to be first half of 2019 Polanco and lock him into a spot in the lineup, but just not sure they trust that to happen or that he'll be able to hold down any defensive spot by then. And don't think they'll want to pay the prices for Donaldson or Sano and Buxton is just a total wild card.

    • DannySD likes this

Definitely makes you look at what the Twins need to do with pieces between now and then. Is Buxton longterm. Royce NOT a shortstop. What if Donaldson can't play third. Do you continue to go with Sano? Garver is a luxury. 

 

You got outfield names like Celestino, Wallner and Urbina, not to mention the 2025 wave of Soulaire. Sabato and Cavaco could rise and at least get a looksee. Is Miranda a choice for third base longterm? At what point do you say goodbye to Wander Javier?

 

    • TopGunn#22 likes this

I don't think Kepler will be a Twin in 2024. It's going to be Larnach in RF, Kirilloff in LF, and either Rooker or Sabato at 1B.

I love this kind of stuff.Thanks Cody.Only position I don't really see is Donaldson at 3B.How about a healthy Buxton stays in CF and Lewis is at 3B?!

    • DannySD likes this
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Doctor Gast
Dec 29 2020 06:52 AM

I fore see starting this year, Polanco is no longer SS, he's moved to 2B & will be there in 2024.

I'm thinking out side the box & have Arraez at DH,

I see Sano after he's completely comfortable at 1B, gradually transitioning back to 3B, switching w/ Donaldson occasionally to give him a break there until Sano stays at 3B & Donaldson at 1B.

Lewis could play any where but he'll end up where he's most needed & that would be SS

Crucial CF, I'd love to have Buck there w/ Celestino as back up but if Buxton isn't extended, Celestino will do.

The only 2 players we agree upon Cody is Kepler in RF & Jeffers at C

Unfornately Larnach as 4th OF & subbing at 1B & after Donaldson is gone, he'll start there

Pitching will be very interesting 

This series is fun to read, however I find it hard to follow which predictions were made and when they were made.I wish you would make some notes to clarify the dates of your predictions and any updates. :)


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