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28-man rosters: Extra Opportunities for Twins Players


Twins Daily Contributor

MLB and the Players Union announced recently that they would resume the 28-man roster rule they had at the start of the shortened-2020 season. This time the shortened spring training was due to the owners implementing a lockout, and by the time MLB and MLBPA reached an agreement, players only had three-and-a-half weeks of spring training. Let’s see which Twins players are vying for the two additional spots on the Opening Day roster.

Expanded rosters will not be permanent. The 28-man roster will last through May 1st when rosters will go back to 26 players. It’s just enough time to allow players to have a little extra time to tune their bodies, specifically for pitchers to ready their arms. As we have seen in spring training games, this extra time will be a good thing.  This additional time will also give players fighting for a spot on the roster a little more time to fight for a position. 

Player Injuries
The most important part of spring training is getting the players ready for the regular season. Pitchers use this time to get back into a pitching schedule. Hitters need to get their timing back and get into game shape. If a player goes into a regular season with less than a whole month of training, injuries can happen more than they already do. 

In 2020, the players showed up to spring training in shape, but because they had less time to get back into game shape, be in live game situations and get their legs under them, injuries happened throughout the season. Spotrac recorded a 22% increase in injuries from previous years.
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The Twins already have Kenta Maeda out with Tommy John rehab, and Randy Dobnak is out with ongoing issues with his middle finger. Both are currently on the 60-Day Injured List. On March 24th, Brent Rooker is out with shoulder tenderness and will be kept out of the rotation until that improves. Keeping injuries at a minimum is not only important every year, but for the Twins, they have been plagued with key players being injured, so getting the extra time to loosen up with a few extra weeks will serve them well. 

For the players, doubleheaders (which will again consist of two nine-inning games) mean more wear and tear on their bodies. Doubleheaders are already scheduled during the season to make up for missing the first week of games, and there are sure to be other games that will be rescheduled due to rain delays. 

The Twins do have good depth on their roster. There will be room for moving players between the Twins and the Triple-A St. Paul Saints. However, another new rule is that players can only be optioned up to five times during a season, so they have to be careful in doing this too much.

2022 is the first season I have seen fans this excited for the new roster and the possibilities of what the players can accomplish. 

Defensive Battle
Royce Lewis had a tough 2021 season. His pre-camp physical showed a torn ACL which was repaired by surgery on February 21st. Between the lost COVID season in 2020 and his injury, he has not had a chance to play baseball.  Lewis was optioned down to St. Paul on Saturday, March 26th, but that is not going to stop him from trying to make the roster. Lewis believes he can make the 26-man roster sometime in 2022 and start his MLB career after a clean bill of health. Lewis has added some weight and some power to his swing. His offseason work has shown as he’s stepped up to the plate during spring training and will need more time in the minors to get back into full offensive and defensive mode. 

The extra roster spots may also give Nick Gordon more time to prove himself. Gordon has struggled a little bit in the field. Gordon has improved in the outfield, and even his bat has started to come alive, and we saw glimmers of the Gordon that we hoped to see. 

Both players, along with Austin Martin and Spencer Steer have learned from All-Star Carlos Correa, the newest acquisition by the Twins, during workouts and conversations before they were sent back down to minor-league camp. Correa, one of the best shortstops in baseball, has a lot to teach players, and being on the 28-man with him would be the best education either of those players could get. Martin and Lewis are ranked one and two in the organization's prospect rankings, respectively. 

The players fighting for the chance to stay up on the Opening Day roster are Kyle Garlick, Jake Cave, and Brent Rooker. All three outfielders have all the heart and drive in the world to make the roster, but when up against players like Byron Buxton, Trevor Larnach and Alex Kiriloff, their numbers just may not be enough. That doesn't mean that they won't see the 40-man or 26-man at all this season, it does mean however, that they are going to take the next week before the 28-man is solidified and give it everything they have got to try and edge out the other Triple-A guys. 
 
Cave, Rooker and Garlick have all struggled with injuries that have either ended their seasons or left them fighting to get back into the line-up in 2021, so not only have they not seen a lot of at-bats, but the lockout really affected them getting in the field time that they need to be a contender for the 26-man roster, but hopefully the two open spots through April give them more of the time needed to been seen as an asset to the club and stay in the Twins clubhouse. 
 

Competition in the Bullpen
Clubs across MLB must carry 13 pitchers on their 26-man roster.. There is no ‘cap’ on pitchers in April, meaning the extra two spots could go to pitchers

Pitching has often been a weak spot for the club, but this season there may be a glimmer of hope from what could be their Opening Day pitching staff. Pitchers such as Sonny Gray and older pitchers of the club like Chris Archer, Tyler Duffey, and Taylor Rogers have competition from the other pitchers who also want to start. Many other up-and-comers could quickly fill the extra two slots and give the Twins the pitching depth that the fans have been looking for from our club. 

We have seen pitchers like Joe RyanDevin Smeltzer, and Josh Winder out on the mound during spring training. We have seen solid performances from all three pitchers. These pitchers have a command of the mound by hitting their target based on where he and the catcher are set up constantly and impressive strikeouts. ]


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mlb.com

Josh Winder has quickly become a fan favorite to be seen on the mound, but new acquisition Chris Archer rounds out what could be a very solid rotation, making Smeltzer and Winder work harder for those two spots. Archer has had his own struggles with the strike zone and while fans are not excited about him, there is hope that pitching coach Wes Johnson can improve the 33 year old RHP. 

Archer is not the ace that the Club is looking for, but he certainly is going to give the other pitchers the push they need to fight for those extra roster spots. 

They could all be in contention for filling the two new spots in April and potentially deeper into the season. Smeltzer has seen the most significant improvement; he looks strong, confident and has improved his strike-throwing (Smeltzer only pitched once last year and then was injured.). 

With only adding two players for April, there will not only be lots of competitive drive to make that 27th and 28th spot but ultimately to beat out a teammate to stay on the 26-man roster come May 1st. On paper, compared to other seasons, even the ones with the Bomba Squad, the 2022 Twins roster is one of the stronger rosters that the Twins have had in a few years. It’s exciting to think that there are players who can be in contention for an extra spot on the roster. 

Who do you think are some of the major contenders for a spot for not only the 28-man month-long roster but who do you think can make it to the 26-man for the remainder of the season? 

That said, the Twins will use a ton of guys during the remainder of the season, and probably in April too. 


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Rooker has options, so I expect him to start in AAA. I expect some non-roster players like Smeltzer and/or Coulombe and either Garlick or Cave to make the 28-man roster. This begs the question of who gets removed from the 40-man roster to make room? The wild cards are whether Duran and/or Winder make the opening day? 
 

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The Twins have 40 man roster issues that will likely dictate who makes the Opening Day team. (Any non-roster player making the team displaces a 40 man player.)

From a quick hand count, it looks like 23 of the “active” 40 men are pitchers, and this is where I think you find the slack for adding non-roster players.

Enlow could possibly go to the 60 DL. Thielbar, Stashak, and Jax are all guys who have given the Twins gutsy innings when they desperately needed them, but I also think they’d have a decent chance of clearing waivers if exposed, and wouldn’t break the team if claimed.

But I also think that raises the bar on non-roster pitchers going north. The Opening Day pitchers should come strictly from the 40 man with non-roster guys being depth for the time reclamation projects pitch themselves off the team, or injury opens a slot.

There is little slack on the position side. There are three catchers, and at least two of the three are on the MLB team. Maybe all three. Of the 8 infielders, Arraez, Correa, Polanco, Sano, and Urshela are MLB locks; Lewis and Miranda are not being waived, and the last person is Gordon who is out of options, has speed, defensive flexibility, and frankly was the only rookie last year to give the Twins sustained competitive at-bats last year. I think he goes north (and would be claimed in a heartbeat if put on waivers).

Of the OFs on the 40-man, Buxton, Kepler, and Kirilloff are locks, Larnach has already been re-assigned, and Rooker has been injured (and struck out in half his limited spring ABs without a hit). He needs to go down, get healthy, and start hitting. The fifth is Celestino, who has the defensive chops to play in the majors, and after being overmatched after his AA call up, looked good in St Paul, and has hit well this spring. I could see him going north, but I also could see him getting more ABs at AAA with a non-roster or two being added as a 4th outfielder (through Gordon is some of that as well). Depends on the club’s feelings about exposing some pitchers.

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3 hours ago, PatPfund said:

The Twins have 40 man roster issues that will likely dictate who makes the Opening Day team. (Any non-roster player making the team displaces a 40 man player.)

From a quick hand count, it looks like 23 of the “active” 40 men are pitchers, and this is where I think you find the slack for adding non-roster players.

Enlow could possibly go to the 60 DL. Thielbar, Stashak, and Jax are all guys who have given the Twins gutsy innings when they desperately needed them, but I also think they’d have a decent chance of clearing waivers if exposed, and wouldn’t break the team if claimed.

But I also think that raises the bar on non-roster pitchers going north. The Opening Day pitchers should come strictly from the 40 man with non-roster guys being depth for the time reclamation projects pitch themselves off the team, or injury opens a slot.

There is little slack on the position side. There are three catchers, and at least two of the three are on the MLB team. Maybe all three. Of the 8 infielders, Arraez, Correa, Polanco, Sano, and Urshela are MLB locks; Lewis and Miranda are not being waived, and the last person is Gordon who is out of options, has speed, defensive flexibility, and frankly was the only rookie last year to give the Twins sustained competitive at-bats last year. I think he goes north (and would be claimed in a heartbeat if put on waivers).

Of the OFs on the 40-man, Buxton, Kepler, and Kirilloff are locks, Larnach has already been re-assigned, and Rooker has been injured (and struck out in half his limited spring ABs without a hit). He needs to go down, get healthy, and start hitting. The fifth is Celestino, who has the defensive chops to play in the majors, and after being overmatched after his AA call up, looked good in St Paul, and has hit well this spring. I could see him going north, but I also could see him getting more ABs at AAA with a non-roster or two being added as a 4th outfielder (through Gordon is some of that as well). Depends on the club’s feelings about exposing some pitchers.

Interesting take on Gordon.  I agree with you.  Letting him go would be like the decision to keep Cave and let LaMonte Wade leave.  The giants were delighted to get him. 

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16 hours ago, Seth Stohs said:

To be fair, Kyle Garlick earned the job last year, and he performed well in the role he was brought in to play. He was brought in to mash left-handed pitching, and he did... until he got hurt. 

I agree - I think Garlick would be a good platoon option for Kepler if they wanted to go that route.

Seth - Who would you drop from the 40 man roster for Garlick, if they did keep him? A pitcher like Romero or Stashak?  I feel like Enlow is getting too close to use a 60 man roster spot for him.  With the 60 day injured list, he could still pitch in AA or AAA games for 30 days though, right? So if the Twins think he is back by May 1st, the 60 day list could still work and buy some time.

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I guess I think Winder is more likely than some others think he is. Will Archer go 2 innings in his first start, and Gray maybe 3? If Winder is up to 5 innings I think may need those.

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