Twins Roster Projection 2017: Version 3.0
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Danny Santana)So here is my third attempt at projecting the Twins Opening Day roster… I encourage you to read my thoughts, develop your own and then post your thoughts and projections in the comments below.
Catchers (2): Jason Castro, Chris Gimenez
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.
Mitch Garver didn’t get much opportunity again this spring, but the manager likes his game. He was sent down on Saturday, his first option. Murphy hasn’t actually played much either. He’s got one option year remaining. Gimenez feels like the leading candidate to be the backup catcher. Veteran leadership plays into that. His ability to play a couple other positions helps.
Infielders (5): Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar
The starting infield is set. Joe Mauer will start most often at first, with Brian Dozier Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano also starting. None of those are at all surprising. Jorge Polanco’s defense, at least from my opinion, seems to have improved so far this spring, and really in the last three weeks or so. The throws have been more consistently solid.
Escobar is competing with the likes of Ehire Adrianza, Tommy Field and Bengie Gonzalez for the primary utility infield job, but he would certainly still be the favorite. Adrianza is, however, out of options, and Field is not on the 40-man roster. Could the Twins have a second utility infielder?
Still in the game: Ehire Adrianza, Tommy Field, Matt Hague, Bengie Gonzalez
Outfielders (5): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman, Danny Santana
Like the infield, the starting outfield is also pretty well set. Rosario has been starring for Puerto Rico in the WBC. Buxton and Kepler are parts of the next core of Twins players and will get every opportunity this year.
So, the question really becomes the fourth outfielder. I will contend and assume that Grossman will be on the roster, and he has played a lot of outfield this spring, especially with Rosario gone.
And yes, I fully expect Danny Santana to make the Opening Day roster. He is getting a lot of playing time and making starts all around the diamond. Many readers (or at least many of those who choose to comment) aren’t big Santana fans. At the same time, he can hit a little, and he can play adequate defense at six positions. That is kind of the definition of a 25th man.
Still in the game: Drew Stubbs, JB Shuck
Designated Hitter (1): Kennys Vargas
I haven’t had the DH position on its own in the past, but I think it’s worth its own discussion. Kennys Vargas has been the favorite, but he went to the WBC and hasn’t played much. The Twins did get the fourth year option for him, so it’s entirely possible he starts in Rochester. Byungho Park is no longer on the 40-man roster, but he came to spring training healthy and he has hit well this spring. He has a much better walk-to-strikeout rate and looks more comfortable.
And, I wouldn't be opposed to a scenario in which Robbie Grossman is the primary DH. You could keep an extra outfielder around, and you can get DH at-bats for Mauer, Sano and even Dozier or other guys in need of a game off from the field. In that scenario, any one of the extra infielders or outfielders would be added.
I still think Vargas remains the favorite, but he’ll likely have to show something in the two final weeks of spring training.
Still in contention: Byungho Park, Matt Hague, Ben Paulsen
Primary lineup versus RHP: Byron Buxton CF, Joe Mauer 1B, Brian Dozier 2B, Miguel Sano 3B, Max Kepler RF, Kennys Vargas DH, Eddie Rosario LF, Jason Castro C, Jorge Polanco SS
Versus LHP: Byron Buxton CF, Robbie Grossman LF, Brian Dozier 2B, Miguel Sano DH, Kennys Vargas 1B, Max Kepler RF, Eduardo Escobar 3B, Chris Gimenez C, Jorge Polanco SS.
Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are the guys I want in the lineup almost every day. Kennys Vargas is in both lineups, but I would use the DH spot to also give “half days off” to guys like Dozier and Mauer and Grossman as well.
Starting Pitchers (5): Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes, Kyle Gibson, Hector Santiago, Jose Berrios
The first four will be in the starting rotation on Opening Day. We’ve known that for months. The question remains, who will be the fifth starter. Ten days ago, the answer “Trevor May” was becoming much more likely as he was pitching well. Unfortunately, May has a torn UCL and will miss the 2017 season.
I still think that Jose Berrios maintains a slight lead for the fifth starter job. He had a solid performance in his first WBC start, and he could be the starter for Team Puerto Rico in the championship game, if they get there.
Still in contention: Tyler Duffey, Justin Haley, Ryan Vogelsong, and Adalberto Mejia.
Tyler Duffey has made starts the last couple of years. He was terrific in 2015, and he really struggled in 2016. His two-pitch mix would likely play better in the bullpen. Justin Haley struggle again on Sunday, giving up four runs in just two innings. As a Rule 5 pick, much more goes into the decision of whether or not to keep him on the roster than just his performance on the mound. Ryan Vogelsong made a start this week and topped out at 88 but many are impressed with his veteran-ness. Adalberto Mejia’s start this week was very impressive, striking out 11 batters in just 3.2 innings. He’s the “prospect” of this group and has some really good stuff. He’s close.
Bullpen (7): Brandon Kintzler, Ryan Pressly, Matt Belisle, JT Chargois, Taylor Rogers, Craig Breslow, Tyler Duffey.
Brandon Kintzler will go into the season as the closer. Matt Belisle and Ryan Pressly will certainly be set up men. Taylor Rogers has secured one of the left-handed bullpen spots.
With Mike Berardino’s reports that Craig Breslow is likely to be added to the 40-man roster early this week, it also appears that the second left-hander job has been determined.
As I’ve written many times before, JT Chargois should never spend another day in the minor leagues, but I don’t think he’s a given yet. He needs to find a way to improve his efficiency and be more consistent.
So there are six spots taken for a seven-person bullpen. That means there is just one more spot, and there are a lot of options.
So my prediction for today is that Tyler Duffey will be the seventh reliever. His inability to add a third pitch has continued, and his fastball/breaking ball combination could be elite working an inning or two at a time. Also, with the other six, there really isn’t a guy who can go more than two innings. Duffey could do that when needed.
Others in Contention: Michael Tonkin, Justin Haley, Ryan Vogelsong, Ryan O’Rourke, Buddy Boshers.
We’ll see how the final roster cuts come. Some are still quite clear, while others could become really, really interesting over the next ten days.
What are your thoughts? What does your roster look like?
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