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Architecting the 2021 Twins Roster

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 19 January 2021 · 1,133 views

minnesota twins jake odorizzi nelson cruz kike hernandez
Despite being less than a month from Spring Training (or at least as it’s presently scheduled) there’s still something like 75% of eligible free agents unsigned across baseball. Huge names like Bauer and Springer are homeless, and the Minnesota Twins specifically have four empty spots on their 40-man roster. Moves are coming, but who and when?

I’ve thrown out a handful of names in this space as well as on Twitter this offseason, and now I’ll put some pen to paper. Using the Twins Daily created TwinsPayroll.com I plugged in names to a roster matrix. This would probably be a mix of what I’d like to see happen, and what I think is feasible.

Starting Lineup

Ultimately, I believe Nelson Cruz is back as the Twins designated hitter. That worries me as time is undefeated and he struggled down the stretch against fastballs in 2020. However, the fit is there, and I don’t know that we see a universal DH in 2021 (which is too bad). I’m hoping Minnesota avoids a two-year deal, and maybe an option for 2022 is enough to get that done. If it’s not Cruz, I’d prefer a two- or three-year pact with Marcel Ozuna or Michael Brantley. Both of them have positional flexibility, and a bit more long-term belief.

It should be a no-brainer that Alex Kirilloff will take over for Eddie Rosario in left field. Sure, the Twins could play the service time game, but that would be short-sighted given their window of contention right now. Allow him to make his $600k and roll with your best option out there.

There’s still plenty of reason to believe that Trevor Story could be a very good fit for this club through trade, and someone from the pool of Gregorious, Semien, or Simmons makes sense as well. I like the idea of one-year deals with the current roster construction, and there’s no reason why moving Jorge Polanco off of shortstop is a bad thing.

Bench

Ryan Jeffers is about the only player I’m confident in from this group. He and Mitch Garver should create a very solid backstop tandem, even if they’re both right-handed hitters. Jake Cave would make sense as the fourth outfielder, although I’d like to see Brent Rooker’s bat somewhere. Minnesota needs a utility player and signing either Kike Hernandez or Tommy La Stella is a good get there. I like Jurickson Profar the most of that group, but think he’ll get paid more than he’s ultimately worth. If you’re filling out the roster with an additional utility type, Travis Blankenhorn makes a lot of sense internally. I have no idea how this front office views former first-round pick Nick Gordon, but it would make sense for him to be in the conversation as well after a solid second season at Triple-A. The missed time in 2020 did him no favors, however.

Starting Rotation

There should be no pushback on Minnesota needing to acquire a fourth starter. The top three are solid and set, but another arm is a must. From the jump Jake Odorizzi looked like the second-best starter behind Trevor Bauer on the free agent market. He’s still out there, and there’s been buzz from other organizations having interest, but it would be nice to see him return healthy to the Twins. I still wonder if there’s not a good bit of reason to believe this arm could be acquired via trade, and anyone from Jon Gray to Sonny Gray could be exciting.

Randy Dobnak has pitched himself into the conversation for earned starts, and whether that begins 2021 in the big-league rotation or as a first man up type, he should see plenty of work. Minnesota will likely unveil one or both of Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran this season but pushing all of those arms back a bit with starting depth seems necessary.

Bullpen

Although he’s the hometown guy, I’m not necessarily particular to Brad Hand. I do think someone of that ilk is a must though, and Trevor Rosenthal fits the bill. There are probably just three spots left to fill out the relief corps, and Cody Stashak should absolutely claim one of them. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have targeted a few waiver claims in the form of Ian Gibault and Brandon Waddell but there may only be room for one. Looking for this year’s Matt Wisler, the spring slate should sort that out.

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