The 2016 Minnesota Twins
Some of the young players have emerged and a few others are close or knocking on the door, I thought it would be a good opportunity to look at the 2016 roster (and get a free pizza).
Position Players - Near Locks:
1B – Joe Mauer – Joe Mauer will be under contract thru 2018 and it is really hard to see a scenario where Joe is not with the team. His contract is next to immovable, even if he was having a typical .330, 10 HR pace. He, of course is not. I have never been a huge proponent of playing a guy to play for someone else and the Twins aren’t going to do that. My person view is that the Twins view Joe's contract as part player contract, part marketing expense anyway
3B/DH Miguel Sano – Sano should break through in June of next year and be a fixture on this team. Even at the low end of his range, .250 and 30 HR, some BB’s, he will hit his way into the lineup. The best case is 3B, otherwise he could DH or play corner OF as a long shot.
CF – Byron Buxton – I was arguing with my friend about the likelihood of Buxton flopping. He is in the camp of prospects fail and some truth exists to that theory. My only caveat was barring a serious injury, this kid will be the CF for the Twins. That may be as early as spring training next year, but more likely June or August/September of next year. My point was that Buxton is going to provide plus defense (both range and arm) in CF and he should be able to steal 35-40 bases even if for some reason he struggles to get on base. Given that, even if he hits .250 with 10 HR, he should provide value from that position. I know his ceiling is much, much higher than that all around. I think Carl Crawford offensively (.300, 15 HR, 60 SB) with much better defense.
C – Kurt Suzuki, I felt I had to put Kurt on here because he is still under contract. Whether he is starting or splitting we will find out
2B – Brian Dozier – With talent coming up at the position, the Twins could trade him and he would provide a ton of value. I would just rather have a 20-20 type 2B that plays good defense at a reasonable price on our team
Position Players – In the mix
Arcia – He is young and has potential with his bat. The issues thus far are left handed pitching and where he will play. He could DH obviously, but he may run into competition there. His odds are better if his defense in the OF improves.
Rosario – Rosario has hit too well to not be in the mix. But the issue for him is position. My understanding is the Twins appreciate that he tried to become a 2B, but it didn’t really work out. He is in the mix for a corner OF spot, but will need to hit enough to justify the position.
Hicks – Hicks is in a similar position as Rosario. He isn’t going to play CF and he may struggle to hit enough for a corner OF spot. He looks like he could get on base a ton if he could only hit about .260. I think Rosario and Hicks are in competition for one corner OF spot. We likely can’t have two softer hitting/good defensive players in the corners. Both should be able to stick as a 4th OF.
Vargas – He is in the mix and having a great year. I just can’t put him as a lock given he may find a crowd at the DH spot and he may be the least flexible defensively. Prior to this year, he didn’t look like he was going to hit enough for the DH role
Plouffe – In some ways, Plouffe’s future is dependent on whether or not Sano can stick at 3B. I think the Twins will have a tough time finding a better 3B if Sano can’t stick. If Sano does stick at 3B, I think Plouffe would be a great bench guy as he can play multiple positions and hit lefties very well. It would just be a matter of whether or not he would provide more value via trade
Santana – He has hit well, but it is hard to see him sticking in the outfield on this team and it is hard to know how the Twins feel about him at short stop
Polanco – I also don’t know how the Twins feel about him at SS. His best path would be if Dozier gets traded.
Pinto – I just don’t think the Twins will ever give this kid a chance at catcher and I don’t think he will hit enough for DH
Gordon – I don’t believe he will be quite ready in 2016
Starting Pitchers – Near Locks
Hughes – I really loved the signing and I think even if this year is on the high end, he will be a valuable member of this rotation
Gibson – Kyle has taken a step forward this year. It would be nice to see some more K’s and I think those will come in time given his minor league numbers
Meyer – Barring injury, this kid is going to be special
Nolasco – Still under contract and hopefully he rebounds. I don’t think we would be able to move that contract if he doesn’t and I doubt we will have five pitchers that are better. Especially if you think at least one of the “locks” is hurt.
Starters – In the mix
Berrios – I did not put him in the lock category. I wanted to, but I just hope this year was not an aberration
May – I am higher on May than most people are, but his numbers the previous two years were not great at AA. He has the stuff, control maybe an issue but I think he will likely figure it out. If he fails as a starter, I think he could excel as a reliever a la Perkins. My guess is he would throw upper 90’s and he has a good breaking ball
Milone – He has a good track record and career ERA across three seasons. So he has to be in the mix regardless of how fast he throws
Kohl Stewart – I don’t think Kohl will be quite ready, although I am high on him
Thorpe – Probably a tad early, he may break through in 2016
Perkins – Still under contract, hopefully still healthy and getting batters out
Burdi – I think this kid is going to be special. Granted he was probably in the wrong league and he was recently promoted, but he had 25 k’s in 12 IP at Cedar Rapids
Relievers – In the mix
Frankly, too many to name and they could come from our minors, failed starters, or free agency. It is hard to speculate 2 years out. Tonkin, Guerra, and Achter should for sure be in the mix though
When putting this list together, one thing that I find interesting is payroll. The only players at this point that will not be in their rookie deals are Mauer ($23M), Dozier (say $6M), Perkins ($5.5M), Suzuki ($6M), Nolasco ($11M) and Hughes ($8M). So you have $59M plus a bunch of rookies. Pretty interesting and room to supplement through free agency and lock up players early.