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  • Projecting the Twins 30-Man Opening Day Roster


    Ted Schwerzler

    With baseball back on the horizon and an Opening Day set for the end of July, Rocco Baldelli’s Minnesota Twins will return with high expectations. Coming off a 101-win campaign a year ago, and entering a season with lots of unknowns, who fills out the 30-man roster?

    Image courtesy of © Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

    Thanks to COVID-19 we aren’t certain what the 2020 Major League Baseball season is going to look like. We know who Minnesota will play, and we know the constructs of what the league hopes to take place. In order to combat some of the havoc the virus could wreak, new roster stipulations have been put in place.

     

    A 26-man roster was adopted to start this season, but now it will be a 30-man situation from the get-go before later dropping to 28 and eventually 26. Matthew Trueblood recently did a great job breaking down who the Twins could assign to their 60-man active player pool, and it is from there that these 30 names will all come.

     

    Let’s take a stab at who they’ll be:

     

    Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila, Willians Astudillo

     

    There’s no change here from what should have been expected back in March. Astudillo was probably one of the most likely to be right on the fringe, but his positional flexibility could have got him a spot. Garver will handle the lion’s share of catching duties while the veteran Avila can give him a day off when need be.

     

    Infield (5): Miguel Sano, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Josh Donaldson, Ehire Adrianza

     

    Moving over to first base for the upcoming year, Miguel Sano has a new home. Of course, he’s doing that to accommodate the newly acquired star Josh Donaldson. Polanco will be back at short and Luis Arraez owned into the starting second base role. Expect Adrianza to play utility man all over the dirt.

     

    Outfield (5): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez

     

    Minnesota’s outfield may be the best in baseball when healthy. Buxton is arguably the gold standard in center, and Kepler shined defensively in 2019. Rosario will be back in left after not being moved over the winter. Jake Cave was going to be up against a roster crunch to start the year, but the additional spots get him in. Marwin Gonzalez can once again be a productive utility man but has always been best served in an outfield corner.

     

    Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

     

    That’s it, he’s the guy. When Cruz is your DH, there’s not much reason to tinker with it. 41 homers a year ago, time to rest the wrist injury, and a shorter workload this season could see him put up a very nice encore performance.

     

    Rotation (5): Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill, Homer Bailey

     

    This group looks a bit different than it would have back in March, but only for the better. Berrios is working towards becoming a true ace, and the short season actually benefits him. Odorizzi flashed well last year and would have been in consideration for a Cy Young based on his first 12 starts of 2019. Maeda is the newcomer after being acquired for Brusdar Graterol, and he’s an exceptional frontline arm. Getting a healthy Rich Hill to start the season is a big boost for the Twins, and despite his injury history, he’s made at least 12 starts every year since 2015. Bailey is probably the wildcard here, but the Twins clearly saw something they could work with after he went to Oakland.

     

    Bullpen (11): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, Tyler Duffey, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Matt Wisler, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Lewis Thorpe

     

    Crazy how much can change in a year. After entering 2019 with uncertainty, this group may now be the best in baseball and there’s little unknown regarding who will comprise it. Rogers has emerged as the established closer with May and Romo providing setup work. Clippard is a proven vet and nice addition, while Littell emerged as a difference maker last year. Wisler doesn’t have good numbers but it’s clear Minnesota wants to see his slider work, and Stashak gets an inclusion after his ridiculous K/BB rate a year ago. The addition of spots on the roster helps guys like Dobnak, Smeltzer, and Thorpe who were all competing for rotation jobs this spring. They can work in long relief or spot start duty.

     

    It’s interesting that not a whole lot has changed from a roster projection I did back in February. I think that’s a testament to the talent Minnesota employs, and the additional spots really just sorted out some fringe players getting inclusion. We’ll see how things change over the course of the year with the hope that a clean bill of health stays consistent for all.

     

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    How do you load up a team for even more wins than last year? How do you shoe horn a lineup for even more home runs? How do you provide even more pitching depth in the starting rotation, plus provide even more talent in the pen?

     

    Damn shame the season is going to be so short. This team is LOADED. 

     

    The suckiest part? Even if the Twins win it all this season, everybody else will say, "Yeah, it didn't really count." In a plague-shortened season, nobody really wins.

     

    2020 sucks, people. 

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    How do you load up a team for even more wins than last year? How do you shoe horn a lineup for even more home runs? How do you provide even more pitching depth in the starting rotation, plus provide even more talent in the pen?

     

    Damn shame the season is going to be so short. This team is LOADED.

     

    The suckiest part? Even if the Twins win it all this season, everybody else will say, "Yeah, it didn't really count." In a plague-shortened season, nobody really wins.

     

    2020 sucks, people.

    But if the Twins win it all, it will make 2020 suck a little bit less. And if they do, I could care less what anyone who isn't a Twins fan thinks. Given the situation, they came out in top.

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    My question is - how frequently can you change your 30 man with your taxi squad? If you can do it everyday you change it with the next days starter and load up with relief and bats. Why put 5 starters on the squad if you aren't going to use them and have access to daily change?

    I’m not sure those answers have been announced yet. But I would guess that shuffling starting pitchers off and on the taxi squad won’t be allowed. My guess is the transaction rules will be pretty similar to “regular” rules as if the taxi squad was a AAA team. I still am not convinced that those players will be particularly useful as games start. Practice is practice. Playing in a game is very different. How useful is a guy going to be to come in in September to face 90 mph sliders when he hasn’t seen live pitching since mid July? Same goes for pitchers. Although, simulating game conditions is a little easier for pitchers. The taxi squads will have to play real games somehow. There just is no other way to keep them in game shape. No idea how that will work.

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    My question is - how frequently can you change your 30 man with your taxi squad?  If you can do it everyday you change it with the next days starter and load up with relief and bats.  Why put 5 starters on the squad if you aren't going to use them and have access to daily change?

     

    Just read this on MLB Trade Rumors:

    Teams will travel with an unofficial 3-man taxi squad, the identity of which need not be disclosed. One player must be a catcher. There is no official designation or roster status associated with being a member of that group.

     

     

    Same article also states that once a player is put on the active roster standard rules apply. 10 days if optioned unless injury necessitates a recall.

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    How do you load up a team for even more wins than last year? How do you shoe horn a lineup for even more home runs? How do you provide even more pitching depth in the starting rotation, plus provide even more talent in the pen?

     

    Damn shame the season is going to be so short. This team is LOADED. 

     

    The suckiest part? Even if the Twins win it all this season, everybody else will say, "Yeah, it didn't really count." In a plague-shortened season, nobody really wins.

     

    2020 sucks, people. 

    If we win we don't give a damn what anybody else says.  Everyone will know and play by the same rules and circumstances come opening day.
     

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    One possible thing not mentioned but may be likely is that there could be a 15 pitcher limit, as the new rules started a 13 pitcher max for 26 man rosters and 14 for 28 players in September.

    I wouldn't mind having some speedster on the bench for a pure pinch-running role.  And to make room for that, I'd probably only have 10 relievers.   Which would get you to the 15 pitcher limit you mention.

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    Is there a speedster on the 40 man roster for the bench?

     

    i have been thinking about who I might pinch run if the Twins had to put a runner on second in extra innings. Wade and Cave might be the best options and they have very similar base running data but they aren’t difference makers. Both are near league median. They are closer to Sano than they are to Buxton.

     

    Would Nick Gordon be a better option? Is he enough of an improvement to take the Cave/Wade roster spot? Celestine is better but do you start the service time?

     

     

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    Is there a speedster on the 40 man roster for the bench?

     

    i have been thinking about who I might pinch run if the Twins had to put a runner on second in extra innings. Wade and Cave might be the best options and they have very similar base running data but they aren’t difference makers. Both are near league median. They are closer to Sano than they are to Buxton.

     

    Would Nick Gordon be a better option? Is he enough of an improvement to take the Cave/Wade roster spot? Celestine is better but do you start the service time?

     

    I'm guessing pinch runner will be the final thing they would consider in making their regular season roster... Maybe a playoff roster, but not a regular season roster. 

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    Every year the Twins have a player who didn’t plan ahead to obtain a Visa to play in the USA. With the short season and expanded rosters, I sure hope the Twins have been proactive in making sure that all potential players on the 30 and 60 man roster are ready to be here at the start of July Training or soon thereafter.

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