The Minnesota Twins decided that Alex Kirilloff was the best option for their Postseason elimination game, but following a lackluster spring, he wasn’t a fit for the Opening Day roster. Let the second guessing commence.
As Rocco Baldelli breaks camp with a 26-man roster top prospect Alex Kirilloff will not be on it. He won’t travel with the big-league club to Milwaukee, and the assumption would be that he’ll remain in St. Paul across town until sometime near May 1. This affords the Twins a business-first opportunity, but also gives them some different options in terms of roster flexibility.
It should’ve been assumed that Brent Rooker would crack the Opening Day club. He had a solid showing with Minnesota in 2020 and has more than held his own this spring. Kyle Garlick could force his way into the picture with a strong Spring Training and 40-man roster spot, as could non-roster invitee Keon Broxton. The decision also leaves the door open for another utility type, namely Willians Astudillo should Rocco want the three-catcher flexibility.
There’s really no problem with the Twins deciding to keep Kirilloff in the minors, but it’s certainly little more than a business first decision. Sure, he’s been beyond mediocre this spring. A .440 OPS through 31 at bats is nothing pretty, but the flip side is the reality of that sample size. He’s played in 12 games, generating a total of 33 plate appearances. Less then seven months ago he was the answer for Minnesota despite a grand total of zero plate appearances in games that tracked statistics.
From a service time standpoint in the current CBA landscape, Kirilloff would afford the Twins an extra year of control if they keep him in the minors for a matter of weeks. The problem is that the CBA is set to expire following the 2020 season, and much has been made about the implications of service time and team control as a whole. In short, the entirety of the business-first side of this coin could become moot in less than 12 months.
There’s no guarantee that Minnesota is worse off without Kirilloff out of the gate that they are some platoon featuring Rooker, Garlick, or Luis Arraez. However, what happens in April still counts and the division is expected to be hotly contested by the Chicago White Sox. Dream on a scenario in which Minnesota finishes second by just a couple of games, or their Postseason seeding is impacted, and it’s worth wondering if they’d have decided to start on a different foot from the get-go.
Alex Kirilloff beginning the 2021 season in the minor leagues during a season in which he’d get actual at bats makes some sense. It makes much less in a year where he’ll see no game action until May, and then seemingly be determined ready by the big-league club. Here’s to hoping that whenever he debuts the mashing will commence, but the timing of questionable decision making here will be worth scrutinizing as the calendar flips forward.