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Projecting the Twins Opening Day Roster: Version 3.0

Opening Day is right around the corner and many important decisions have already been made. Who gets the final roster spots before the team heads to Milwaukee?
Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Willians Astudillo
Odd Man Out: None
Garver and Jeffers have been locks to make the Opening Day roster since the 2020 season ended. Barring injury, Minnesota will rotate these two players throughout much of the season. Willians Astudillo hasn’t been on any previous version of the projected Opening Day roster, but the Twins have been hinting at him making the team. This includes signing Roberto Pena, a veteran catcher, to be a second catcher at Triple-A.

Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons
Odd Man Out: None
Like the catching group, the infielders have been virtually set since the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons. Polanco, Arraez, and even Sano can be used at multiple defensive positions, so it’s going to be interesting to see how creative Baldelli will be with his line-up construction. Astudillo can also fit into this group as he has shown plenty of defensive versatility throughout his Twins tenure.

Outfield (4): Jake Cave, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker
Odd Men Out: Kyle Garlick, Alex Kirilloff
The biggest Twins news of the week was that Alex Kirilloff was sent to the alternate site after he had a rough spring at the plate. This leaves the Twins with one decision to make as far as the last outfielder to make the club. In recent spring line-ups, Baldelli has been using the trio of Buxton, Kepler, and Rooker as his starting outfield. This leaves Cave as the fourth outfielder and Garlick on the outside looking in. Garlick has been impressive this spring, but he has an option left and the Twins can use him as depth at Triple-A.

Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz
Boomstick will be bashing homers into his 40s and Twins fans are along for the ride.

Rotation (5): Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker
Odd Man Out: Randy Dobnak
Dobnak isn’t going to be in the rotation to start the season, but that might not last for long. With his new and improved slider, Dobnak might be on track to be one of the AL’s biggest sleepers this season. Berrios may have made some adjustments to his fastball and that can be a scary proposition for hitters in the AL Central. Kenta Maeda will start on Opening Day in Milwaukee as he looks to build off his runner-up finish for the AL Cy Young.

Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Randy Dobnak, Derek Law
Odd Men Out: Shaun Anderson, Cody Stashak, Devin Smeltzer
Anderson seemed like the type of player that might be able to fill the Matt Wisler type role on the club, but he was optioned to the minor league side. Smeltzer can fill multiple roles at Triple-A before being needed at the big-league level. Stashak and Law were vying for the last spot and Law’s strikeout filled spring put him over the top. Minnesota will also have the opportunity to use 14 pitchers at different times during the season, so some of the players at the bullpen’s back end will be shuffled back and forth between CHS Field and Target Field.

Who do you think makes the Opening Day roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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66 Comments

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whosafraidofluigirussolo
Mar 24 2021 08:57 PM

Does Law have an opt-out that means the Twins would lose him if he didn't make the club? If not, it's hard for me to see them forcing a tough 40-man decision just to take Law over Stashak on opening day.

    • Danchat, Dman, DocBauer and 2 others like this
I think you nailed the takeoff and stuck the landing on this one Cody.
    • Twins33, Major League Ready, tarheeltwinsfan and 4 others like this
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stringer bell
Mar 24 2021 09:23 PM

If there is a level playing field for the relief pitcher spots, I think Law should make the big league team. He has been absolutely lights out. Stashak is probably a competent last man in the bullpen, but given the apparent need for multiple innings early, I would expect Dobnak to come north with the team as a long reliever/spot starter. Also, given that Thorpe has an option, it will probably be used right away. He has been impressive so far this spring and may end up working many significant innings for the Twins.

 

Thielbar was effective last year, but I don't expect a successful encore. I am thinking that Waddell will get to Target Field early in the year and will supplant Thielbar, but probably not on Opening Day.

    • Twins33, Dman, DocBauer and 3 others like this

Yeah, it's looking like Astudillo is going to make the initial squad. He's been in the lineup nearly every day and he's been playing plenty of 3B/1B. 

 

I'd really prefer Dobnak make the team over Shoemaker... but I think we see either Dobnak or Thorpe make the squad as the long reliever. Law has been great, but I'd rather seem him start off in the minors. I don't hate seeing Stashak get demoted, though if you're a proponent of "ST stats mean nothing", then shouldn't Stashak's strong regular season numbers make him a lock to make the team?

 

Whoops, I see Dobnak's actually in the pen. That does make sense, then. Hopefully he'll be stretched out enough for when the eventual injury to a starter happens.

    • Doctor Gast likes this
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Major League Ready
Mar 24 2021 10:55 PM

 

Yeah, it's looking like Astudillo is going to make the initial squad. He's been in the lineup nearly every day and he's been playing plenty of 3B/1B. 

 

I'd really prefer Dobnak make the team over Shoemaker... but I think we see either Dobnak or Thorpe make the squad as the long reliever. Law has been great, but I'd rather seem him start off in the minors. I don't hate seeing Stashak get demoted, though if you're a proponent of "ST stats mean nothing", then shouldn't Stashak's strong regular season numbers make him a lock to make the team?

 

Whoops, I see Dobnak's actually in the pen. That does make sense, then. Hopefully he'll be stretched out enough for when the eventual injury to a starter happens.

 

Law is out of options. No way he makes it through waivers. Therefore, Law starting the season at the ML level gives us more depth. He gets replaced if he stumbles. It's obvious the pitching acquisitions and roster construction were designed for depth this year which is understandable after a 60 game season last year. Cody's inclusion of Law makes sense. I would be quite happy to see him continue to pitch relatively close to the way he has in ST.

    • Twins33, JoshDungan1 and D.C Twins like this
Everyone healthy, this is the opening roster that makes the most sense, and has made the most sense for a long time.

AK isn't ready YET. But he will be up soon.

And this is the opening roster, not the final 2021 roster. So don't freak out!

You just can't keep Garlik over Rooker.

Funny how some see Astudillo as a fun story and nothing more, and yet the Twins see him as a nice 26th man. Me? I really like him, healthy. Because when healthy, he's a decent fielder and solid bat off the bench as the 26th man. And that's important. 2022 and beyond, he and Cave are questionable. But why do we worry about that now?

I LOVE our top 3 SP and really like our 4/5 knowing Dobnak and Thorpe are going to contribute with a couple stud arms in the wings.

Bullpen, to me, looks nice with a collection of 40 man options plus.

I'm ready for the season to start!
    • Dman, tarheeltwinsfan, JoshDungan1 and 2 others like this
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sampleSizeOfOne
Mar 25 2021 04:14 AM

 

Law is out of options. No way he makes it through waivers. Therefore, Law starting the season at the ML level gives us more depth. He gets replaced if he stumbles. It's obvious the pitching acquisitions and roster construction were designed for depth this year which is understandable after a 60 game season last year. Cody's inclusion of Law makes sense. I would be quite happy to see him continue to pitch relatively close to the way he has in ST.

I don't believe he is on the 40 man roster yet, so no options used to send him to a minor league team. As whosafraid said, the question is whether his deal has an opt out or not, as minor league deals to major league players often (but not always) do.

 

Anyway, he has certainly put up the numbers. We'll see soon enough how it plays out.

    • Danchat, whosafraidofluigirussolo, Dman and 1 other like this
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yeahyabetcha
Mar 25 2021 05:45 AM
I will be very surprised if a backup SS does not make the opening day roster....Maybe Riddle makes the squad over Rooker or Austudillo
    • Doctor Gast likes this

So far, it seems like they will have to keep Law if he can keep up this pace over the next two weeks.I sure hope he can fill the Whisler production from last year.I would think they would drop Anderson from the 40-man to make room.

    • D.C Twins and rdehring like this
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Major League Ready
Mar 25 2021 05:55 AM

 

I will be very surprised if a backup SS does not make the opening day roster....Maybe Riddle makes the squad over Rooker or Austudillo

 

Polanco is the backup SS. Who would you rather have ... Riddle at SS and Polanco at 2B or Polanco at SS and Arraez at 2B? As proposed, Astudillo is a 2nd backup to every other infield position except SS. This is only good until one of Simmons or Polanco goes down for more than a game at which point they bring someone up. This is the beauty of AAA being in St. Paul.

    • Dman, tarheeltwinsfan, chpettit19 and 4 others like this
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yeahyabetcha
Mar 25 2021 06:16 AM
I would rather have Riddle. A potential infield of Arraez, Polanco and Austudillo is not very appetizing . We have had to live thru that before.

 

I would rather have Riddle. A potential infield of Arraez, Polanco and Austudillo is not very appetizing . We have had to live thru that before.

 

Only going to happen if there's an injury, and then you'll see a call up from AAA. I highly doubt the Twins plan to rest Simmons and Donaldson on the same day.

 

A Rooker/Cave platoon could be very productive, and Rooker has earned the chance. Maybe MLB pitching will figure him out and he won't make enough contact to stick, but so far so good, so we'll see what happens when he gets out of SSS territory. And if he fails, guys like Kirilloff and Larnach are waiting in the wings.

 

The best part of this roster projection? It doesn't have us carrying 14 %^$#$%*@#*% pitchers. (we do not need a 9 man bullpen. NO ONE needs a 9-man bullpen.)

    • whosafraidofluigirussolo, Dman and DocBauer like this
Off topic post here. Lance Mccullers just signed a 5 year extension that should be a good guide for a Berrios deal. He got a $3.5m bonus, $15.25m 2022-23 and $17m in 2024-26. Lance has a career 6.8 WAR compared to 7.8 for Jose and Lance missed chunks of time do to injury, but when healthy he is a very good SP. 5 years $85m that he got should be a good starting point for Berrios, if he wants to stay a Twin.
    • rdehring likes this

I look for a lot of movement between St. Paul and Twins. Nice to be on opening day roster, but no guarantee will stay there or be there more time than someone else over the season. Like Cody's picks for opening day roster.

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East Coast Twin
Mar 25 2021 07:13 AM

 

I don't believe he is on the 40 man roster yet, so no options used to send him to a minor league team. As whosafraid said, the question is whether his deal has an opt out or not, as minor league deals to major league players often (but not always) do.

 

Anyway, he has certainly put up the numbers. We'll see soon enough how it plays out.

Darren Wolfson tweeted at the time of the signing that Law's minor league deal includes an opt out provision.The opt out date isn't stated.

 

 

    • Dman and D.C Twins like this

Was surprised you didn't include Thorpe with the starters or relievers. All reports I have seen are that he is throwing very well this spring. Yes, he just received the 4th option and will probably begin the year in St. Paul, but he sure should have been included with the odd-men out. Gotta believe he is ahead of Smeltzer in the pecking order of next man up.

    • DocBauer and JoshDungan1 like this
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Major League Ready
Mar 25 2021 07:46 AM

 

I would rather have Riddle. A potential infield of Arraez, Polanco and Austudillo is not very appetizing . We have had to live thru that before.

 

You are changing the scenario. In Cody's proposed roster, Astudillo is a 2nd back-up. If Simmons goes down, Polanco goes to SS, Arraez to 2B, NO Astudillo.If Polanco or Donaldson goes down, Arraez takes his place, NO Astudillo. Astudillo is there if your backup goes down too.

 

Now, would I still keep Riddle instead of Astudillo? Probably. I don't really see the need for 3 catchers.

    • Twins33 likes this

"Minnesota will also have the opportunity to use 14 pitchers at different times during the season, so some of the players at the bullpen’s back end will be shuffled back and forth between CHS Field and Target Field."

 

I bet going back and forth to AAA, which is becoming so common these days, is going to be vastly improved this season with the Saints. I wonder if we underestimate how much of an advantage that will prove to be? Compared to just about every other team in the league, the Twins should be able to swap players and have it barely impact them, other than salary, service time, etc.

 

Could be huge!

    • D.C Twins likes this

I guess I was surprised to see Derek Law in there as Stashak has been pretty good in the regular season.If Law does have an opt out though I guess that might make sense.His stuff has looked really good this spring borderline elite even but who is getting bumped off of the 40 man to add him? Anderson, Smeltzer, Ober? If you want to add him, somebody has to go because I don't see him on the 40 man right now. 

 

Would have been nice if the OP told us who they thought would be gone or try to get past waivers because I had Law starting in the minors and coming up in case of injury mainly because the 40 looks full.If he has an opt out then I guess a decision needs to be made but I will be curious to see who gets let go or has a phantom injury to start the season. 

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South Dakota Tom
Mar 25 2021 08:34 AM

The drop from the 40-man is tough - looks like either Anderson or Devin Smeltzer to me.I think with Devin's numbers this spring, he'd have a better chance of making it through waivers.

    • Twins33, Danchat, Dman and 1 other like this

I'd still be surprised to see Dobnak in the bullpen as I would think the Twins prefer to keep him stretched out as a starter at the alt site, but most here seem to think differently.

He'll likely be one of the five most valuable SP by the season's end. It would be a shame to waste that in the bullpen. 

    • denarded likes this

 

I'd still be surprised to see Dobnak in the bullpen as I would think the Twins prefer to keep him stretched out as a starter at the alt site, but most here seem to think differently.

If they want to keep Dobnak stretched out, they could use him out of the pen on a fairly set schedule. For example, they could plan to piggyback him with Happ or Shoemaker, throwing at least 3-4 innings after the starter leaves.

 

The pen is big enough, and enough guys have options, that they can always shuttle guys back and forth with St. Paul if there's a short start or injury or something, so they're not locked into any particular configuration.

    • Dman, DocBauer, chpettit19 and 1 other like this

Law has been doing very well, but much as many have asked who gets off the 40 man to put him on it?That is another thing the FO will have to think about, who are they willing to lose to waivers when removing from 40 man. I wonder if any trades are being talked about to fix that issue?Not too often is that done.Normally teams will just have a ton of movement and hope their guy makes it through. 

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Major League Ready
Mar 25 2021 09:21 AM

 

Law has been doing very well, but much as many have asked who gets off the 40 man to put him on it?That is another thing the FO will have to think about, who are they willing to lose to waivers when removing from 40 man. I wonder if any trades are being talked about to fix that issue?Not too often is that done.Normally teams will just have a ton of movement and hope their guy makes it through. 

 

A trade would be ideal. Short of that happening, I am not worried about loosing Smeltzer if they believe in "the Law". :lol:

    • Twins33, Dman, IndianaTwin and 3 others like this
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MMMordabito
Mar 25 2021 09:52 AM

 

If Law does have an opt out though I guess that might make sense.His stuff has looked really good this spring borderline elite even but who is getting bumped off of the 40 man to add him? Anderson, Smeltzer, Ober? If you want to add him, somebody has to go because I don't see him on the 40 man right now. 

 

How about Gordon? Time to move on.


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