Projecting the Opening Day Roster: 29-Players! Yes, Please.
Image courtesy of © Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY SportsMajor League Baseball was already planning on expanding rosters for the 2020 season from 25 players to 26 players. Now, it sounds like MLB will add even more roster protections with rosters being expanded to 29 players, at least for the beginning of the season. So how does that impact the Twins. Let’s find out.
Editor's Note: The originally posted article did not include a designated hitter spot. The author went back and added Nelson Cruz and took a pitcher out of the bullpen.
Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo
With a likely scenario that includes multiple doubleheaders and possibly back-to-back doubleheader days, it will be critical for the Twins to carry a minimum of three catchers. My original plan included Astudillo heading to Rochester to start the year, but that won’t be possible now. Garver and Avila could rotate through a regularly scheduled season like Garver and Jason Castro did in 2019. Astudillo has an option remaining so he could be sent down later in the year if roster sizes change as the season moves on.
Infielders (5): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano
Minnesota’s infield projection is pretty clear with four regulars and Ehire Adrianaza serving as a replacement for players when the need an off-day. Marwin Gonzalez is another middle infield option, but Adrianza is a far superior defender and Gonzalez can be used in the outfield as a replacement. Minnesota might have the best offensive infield in the American League, and it will be fun to see what these players can do in a shortened season.
Outfielders (5): Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario
Byron Buxton was a question mark for the original Opening Day, but a delayed start means he should be healthy and ready to go. Max Kepler is looking to build off a tremendous 2019 campaign and it’s hard to know if Eddie Rosario will be on the Twins beyond 2020. After Sano’s spring injury last year, Gonzalez found himself in a starting role. That likely won’t be the case this year and he will have to slide into a bench player role, especially in a shortened season.
Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz
Cruz will be entering is coming off a year where he was named the team's MVP, but he is only under contract through the end of the year. Can he match last year's production, even if the season is shortened?
Rotation (6): Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill, Jhoulys Chacin
Major League Baseball hasn’t clarified how the 29-man roster would be designated. It seems likely for there to be fewer off-days and more scheduled doubleheaders. This will make it important to carry more starting pitchers, especially with Michael Pineda still serving his suspension. This allows Rich Hill and Jhoulys Chacin to slide into Minnesota’s newly created six-man rotation. Hill won’t be ready until June, at best, but MLB baseball might not be ready until that time either. Other players in the bullpen could also fill in for a spot start if doubleheaders are expanded.
Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler, Devin Smeltzer
This bullpen is good; like really good. It’s too bad a shortened season is going to take away from the impact this bullpen could have over a 162-game season. That being said, this group could be lights out in the post-season. Taylor Rogers was one of the most reliable bullpen arms in 2019. The trio of Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, and Sergio Romo were dominant at season’s end. Adding the other arms listed above will make this bullpen fun to watch no matter how many games are played in 2020.
How would this roster fare in the newly proposed division realignments? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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