After the Minnesota Twins signed veteran reliever Hansel Robles to a Major League deal this offseason, their 40-man roster was down to just four openings. Needing significant reinforcements still, it’s a good bet that addition by subtraction could be coming.
By my estimation Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have no less than players yet to acquire, but a more comfortable reality is probably in the ballpark of six. With that in mind, a shortage on 40-man spots becomes a reality, and swinging a deal including a player from that group makes some sense.
As things stand today, with Minnesota having made virtually no moves of any real substance, I’d think they need no less than two infield/utility types, another relief arm, and at least one starting pitcher. You can push the argument for a second starting arm, as well as another reliever, and the designated hitter vacancy still must be filled. That’s anywhere from four to seven fresh faces.
So, what happens next?
There’s been plenty of talk regarding the Twins making a move for a shortstop. In that scenario Jorge Polanco can either become a utility option, or he assumes the role of starting second basemen and Luis Arraez goes into flux. I like Arraez moving around a bit more, though he’s also been noted as a trade chip. Regardless of how it shakes out, there’s two 40-man players currently waiting on standby.
When looking at the arms, it’s hard to see many that won’t fit. Both Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell we’re claimed off waivers and are penciled onto the big-league roster as of now. It’s fair to believe one of them could be upgraded, but neither should be looked at as a trade chip. Both top pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic are on the 40-man, so if either are swapped for a veteran asset, that’s one way to create a net-zero addition.
There’s little incentive to outright LaMonte Wade and Gilberto Celestino has had plenty of positive talk the past few months among outfielders. Willians Astudillo isn’t really a catcher despite being included in that grouping, but Ben Rortvedt may not be an ideal leap from Double-A being more of a defense only asset at this point. If there’s a position player not expected to be on the Major League roster that gets included in a trade, I think it’s former first round draft pick Nick Gordon.
Over the course of his pro career Gordon has followed a pretty consistent path in that he’s succeeded the second time through a level. He’s no longer much for prospect status, and he’s not a shortstop anymore either. Gordon won’t bump either Arraez or Polanco off second base, and I don’t know that his bat does enough to be the utility guy. I believe there’s a legitimate big-league player here but have contended for a while it will come in a different organization. Now may be the time.
When the dust settles, I think the most likely position Minnesota trades for is starting pitching. Jake Odorizzi would be a good addition, but they aren’t getting Trevor Bauer and everyone else has their own warts to consider. Plucking from another organization and swapping prospect capital looks like a pretty good fit.
I’d be surprised if we saw just a straightforward addition of four new players and throwing a trade in allows a good opportunity to tweak the 40-man openings.