Projecting Minnesota’s 2024 Line-Up
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY SportsCatcher: 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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