ESPN did an article yesterday on what every team needs to do in MLB. I looked with interest at the suggestion of what the Twins should do, expecting maybe that they get another starter or another bullpen arm. I was surprised to see that the writer said that the Twins should improve their bench. The article mentioned that Gonzalez has been playing third, but not that the presumed regular (Sanó) was on rehab assignment and expected back this month.
I have mentioned on a couple other threads that I really like the Twins bench, presuming that the eventual four-man bench would be Marwin, la Tortuga, Adrianza, and whoever isn't playing between Garver and Castro. There is a tremendous amount of versatility, first and foremost, plus a couple of guys who should be able to step in for full-time work. Also, having Cave as the next man up works out because he is a big league player, and can replace any injury vacancy because of the versatility of the bench players on hand now. Cave can be shipped the Triple A whenever needed and recalled immediately if there are injuries.
Let's examine the bench:Marwin Gonzalez--he's been a regular at third base thus far, but when Sanó returns, he can be freed up to play all over. Gonzalez has demonstrated a good glove at third and in cameos at first and left field. He only yesterday got his batting average above .200, but I'd call him a proven major league average hitter. To me, Gonzalez is a "tenth regular", who will get innings and at-bats at many positions even if there are no disabling injuries among the regular position players.
Willians Astudillo--beyond being popular for making the big leagues with a physique of a church league softball player, Astudillo has a unique skill set. He can play first, third, left and right (and has started games at second and played center field) while being so far a competent catcher. In addition, the Turtle has hit very well in his 150 MLB plate appearances, collecting an OPS+ of 136, despite almost never drawing a walk. He also has insane contact skills and almost never strikes out (4 Ks in those 150 plate appearances). I don't know if 150 plate appearances is enough to prove he's a really good hitter, but he's certainly done enough for the team to keep him around, and I think he is slowly making believers of the doubters. Astudillo has been on the injured list for over a week and is due to come off soon.
Ehire Adrianza--More of the typical three-position infielder with a light bat, Adrianza has over 900 career plate appearance and has a lifetime .649 OPS. He's off to a slow start this year, hitting only .146. Adrianza is a minor league shortstop who has transitioned to utility player. He defends decently at second, short and third and has logged innings at first and left field. It appears that manager Rocco Baldelli prefers Adrianza to Gonzalez at short and second defensively, although the regulars at those two positions haven't missed many games. Adrianza is out of options, so he can't be shuttled back and forth to the minor leagues.
Alternate catcher--Mitch Garver and Jason Castro have split starts at catcher almost evenly. The one not starting would be the fourth member of the bench. Castro is a lefty bat, while Garver hits righty, but has played first and a bit of outfield since coming to the Twins late in 2017. Having a third catcher (Adrianza) means that the second catcher can be used without the fear of having a non-catcher behind the dish.
To summarize, the Twins figure to have a "tenth regular", an intriguing player with a unique skill set who has so far been an elite hitter, a versatile infielder and an alternate catcher as their bench. If there is any position players on the injured list, the next man up is a fourth outfielder who had a 114 OPS+ in over 300 plate appearances last year. Gonzalez and Adrianza are switch hitters. I think that in the era of thee- and four-man benches, this group is excellent.