All that, along with the business-as-usual events such as minor league signings and bringing in new coaches throughout the organization. They have hired Mike Bell as bench coach, but they still need to hire an assistant pitching coach/bullpen coach.
While the core of 2019’s 101-win team is largely still intact, Rocco Baldelli will have plenty of new faces as well.
Let's take a look around the diamond and see what the Twins roster might look like if the season were to start today. Hopefully it gives Twins fans a glimpse at the work that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have ahead of them to fill out Rocco Baldelli's second Opening Day roster:
Catcher (3) - Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo
No question. Silver Slugger award winner Mitch Garver earned the Twins starting catcher gig. Alex Avila will be the #2 catcher, and yet we know that means he will likely catch a lot due to the team’s emphasis on rest. As the roster is currently comprised, Astudillo represents a good 26th roster option, at least until the team signs a first baseman or third baseman. Then he is an ideal 27th man for a 26-man roster.
Non 40-man options: Tomas Telis, Juan Graterol
Infielders (5) - Marwin Gonzalez (1B), Luis Arraez (2B), Jorge Polanco (SS), Miguel Sano (3B), Ehire Adrianza (UT)
Clearly the Twins are going hard after third baseman Josh Donaldson. If they sign him, Sano moves over to first base and the infield is set. Sano at first base. Luis Arraez at second base. Donaldson and third base. Jorge Polanco at shortstop. Adrianza backs up four spots. Gonzalez backs up two spots and two outfield spots too. If they don’t sign Donaldson, Sano probably stays at third base and they bring in a Mitch Moreland type to play first base for a year.
40-man Options: Travis Blankenhorn, Nick Gordon
Non 40-Man Options: Alex Kirilloff, Cody Asche, Jack Reinheimer, Wilfredo Tovar, Zander Wiel
Outfielders (4) - Eddie Rosario (LF), Byron Buxton (CF), Max Kepler (RF), Jake Cave (4th)
Rosario is still a Twin! He may not have had a great year, but when a guy hits .276 (.800) with 28 doubles, 32 homers and 109 RBI, he shouldn’t be traded for just anything. Hopefully Buxton and his shoulder will be ready by Opening Day. And hopefully Kepler can continue to grow upon the progress he made in 2019. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade will likely battle it out for an outfield spot as Marwin Gonzalez can also play out there.
40-man Options: LaMonte Wade, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino
Non-40-man Options: Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach
Designated Hitter (1) - Nelson Cruz
I feel pretty comfortable with this one.
Starting Pitchers (5) - Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Homer Bailey, Rich Hill (maybe in June)
As of now, the Opening Day rotation will consist of Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi and Homer Bailey. Michael Pineda will have to miss about six weeks due to his suspension, and Rich Hill will be out until sometime in June after having a modified Tommy John surgery.
The question becomes… who will make starts for the Twins until Pineda and Hill are ready to pitch?
Short-Term Starter Options - Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Brusdar Graterol,
Last week, I wrote about the idea of Brusdar Graterol being a “primary” pitcher. Another option would be for him to get starts until Hill comes back in June. At that point, a decision could be made about how to proceed. Keep him starting, or move him to the bullpen to limit his innings. Thorpe, Dobnak and Smeltzer all made starts for the Twins in 2019 and had varying levels of success. All four should be a part of future Twins plans.
The Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Clippard, Zack Littell, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler.
Taylor Rogers became a top reliever in the league in 2019, and Duffey and May both took huge strides in the second half. So did Zack Littell and Cody Stashak who pitched well in their rookie seasons. Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard provide a veteran presence and know-how. Wisler is out of option, so he would have to make the team or be placed on waivers. He’s got impressive strikeout rates. The bullpen has a chance to be a strength and has plenty of good depth. It will be interesting to see how the pecking order changes over the course of the season.
Other Bullpen Options
40-man Roster: Ryne Harper, Fernando Romero, Sean Poppen, Jorge Alcala, (Graterol, Dobnak, Smeltzer, Thorpe)
Non 40-man Roster: Blaine Hardy, Ryan Garton, Mitch Horacek, Caleb Thielbar, Daniel Coulombe
So, what do the Twins need to do over the remainder of the offseason?
(There is likely no huge rush at this point. We have seen free agency trickle into spring training if not into the season. The trade market is always open..)
- Corner Infielder - The Twins appear to be going after Josh Donaldson very strongly. Getting him would add a huge bat to an already potent lineup while improving the defense in the infield. If Donaldson signs elsewhere, it is likely that the Twins sign a first baseman in the Mitch Moreland mold.
- Outfield - While it shouldn’t be a huge priority, a right-handed hitting outfielder might make sense as a platoon option with lefties Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler. It also makes sense for the guy to be able to play center field well when Byron Buxton is out of the lineup. Kevin Pillar makes a lot of sense.
- Starting Pitching - I think the additions of Bailey and Hill on Tuesday likely signal the end of the Twins efforts in attracting starting pitchers. Unless teams drop their trade prices on possible ace-like pitchers (Jon Gray, German Marquez as examples), the Twins have improved their staff while giving themselves quality depth.
What do you consider the Twins areas of strength, and how would you prioritize their areas of need the rest of the offseason?
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