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  • Twins 40-Man Roster Crunch? Perhaps Not


    Lucas Seehafer PT

    The doldrums of August have arrived, the Minnesota Twins are firmly outside of the playoff picture, and fans' eyes have begun to aim their gaze with increasing amounts of intensity towards the offseason. While free agency and trades most often dominate the conversation during the winter, another topic of conversation quietly drums on in the background: the 40-man roster.

    Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily

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    The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity. 

    Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference. 

    Already on the 40-man

    • Jordan Balazovic, RHP
    • Jhoan Duran, RHP
    • Drew Strotman, RHP
    • Gilberto Celestino, OF
    • Edwar Colina, RHP
    • Brent Rooker, OF/DH
    • Nick Gordon, UTIL

    Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow.

    Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency

    • Matt Canterino, RHP
    • Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP
    • Austin Martin, OF/SS
    • Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH
    • Keoni Cavaco, INF
    • Misael Urbina, OF
    • Matt Wallner, OF/DH
    • Alerick Soulaire, UTIL
    • Will Holland, INF
    • Marco Raya, RHP
    • Spencer Steer, INF
    • Steve Hajjar, LHP
    • Louie Varland, RHP
    • Noah Miller, INF
    • Chase Petty, RHP

    All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded.

    Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted. 

    40-man Locks

    • Jose Miranda, INF
    • Joe Ryan, RHP
    • Josh Winder, RHP
    • Cole Sands, RHP
    • Royce Lewis, SS/OF
    • Jovani Moran, LHP

    There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner.

    50/50 Chance

    • Blayne Enlow, RHP
    • Chris Vallimont, RHP
    • Yennier Cano, RHP
    • Ian Hamilton, RHP
    • Yunior Severino, INF
    • Jermaine Palacios, INF

    Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions. 

    Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing.

    As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man.

    Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one.

    Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios.

    Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision.

    Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects

    • Wander Javier, SS
    • Trey Cabbage, OF/DH

    Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low.

    Impending Free Agents

    • Michael Pineda, RHP
    • Alexander Colome, RHP
    • Andrelton Simmons, SS

    The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5.

    40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs

    • Charlie Barnes, LHP
    • Devin Smeltzer, LHP
    • Beau Burrows, RHP
    • Danny Coulombe, LHP
    • Luke Farrell, RHP
    • Edgar Garcia, RHP
    • Ralph Garza Jr., RHP
    • Juan Minaya, RHP
    • Cody Stashak, RHP
    • Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    • Nick Vincent, RHP
    • Derek Law, RHP
    • Willians Astudillo, UTIL
    • Jake Cave, OF
    • Kyle Garlick, OF
    • Rob Refsnyder, OF

    The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward. 

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    The biggest item I agree with is the dead weight which can trimmed to open up necessary spots for even our borderline prospects.  Of your list of 16, there are an easy 8+ that can be opened up (including Cave, Astudillo (a fav of mine), Law, Garlick, Burrows, Vincent, Thorpe, Farrell, and any of the other waiver claims honestly).  When we are claiming pitchers from Detroit, you know things are a bit desparate to find the perverbial needle in a haystack.

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    Excellent way of presenting this, Lucas, and excellent discussion.

    The only thing that I think you missed is at the end when you discuss the 19 players players who will/could be departing, you failed to take into consideration that the current 40-man has 46 players on it with 6 on the 60-day IL.  So the number of potential spots will be 19-6, or 13.  With 5 locks, they are then down to 8 potential spots for both young players to be added and open spots for free agent signings.  So it is probably a lot tighter than you presented.  And that assumes all the 16 players at the end are released, which certainly won't happen.

    But I loved the article and expect them to have many lengthy conversations as they approach December.  Personally, I think the most likely of the 50/50 is the first you listed, Enlow.  The next most likely might be Severino, especially if he continues hitting at Cedar Rapids like he has since his promotion.  The other reason may be that they have $2.5M invested in this young man, so I have a feeling he will be added.

    The key will be how many of those guys in the last group are retained.  I expect it will be more than we think.  Hopefully, they can trade a few of them, but that doesn't happen that often. 

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    A question regarding Enlow: "However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins". Can the Twins do the same? That is, putting him in the 40-man roster, and immediately transfer him to the 60-day list?

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    11 minutes ago, adjacent said:

    A question regarding Enlow: "However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins". Can the Twins do the same? That is, putting him in the 40-man roster, and immediately transfer him to the 60-day list?

    Not certain what the exact rule is, however, I believe the 60-day IL doesn't exist during the off-season.  Thus, they would have to carry him until opening day, or a few days before or after.

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    There are plenty of players they can leave off the 40 man, or DFA, that if we lose I will not be upset about.  Position players pass through rule 5 easier.  Pitchers you can stick at end of pen all year, but hard to not have a position player play most of the year.  I would not risk have Enlow open for rule 5 because we can also quickly put him on 60-day after the rule 5 draft as well is my understanding. 

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    46 minutes ago, adjacent said:

    A question regarding Enlow: "However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins". Can the Twins do the same? That is, putting him in the 40-man roster, and immediately transfer him to the 60-day list?

     

    34 minutes ago, roger said:

    Not certain what the exact rule is, however, I believe the 60-day IL doesn't exist during the off-season.  Thus, they would have to carry him until opening day, or a few days before or after.

    The 60-day IL starts around the start of spring training. As an example, the Twins originally signed Pineda, after his surgery, on December 13, 2017. They placed him on the 60-day IL on February 17, 2018.

    So Enlow would take up a 40-man spot from mid-November (the usual deadline to protect guys from Rule 5) until mid-February, before he could be placed on the 60-day IL.

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    16 minutes ago, AceWrigley said:

    I really don't like that an injured + surgery + long rehab player can be plucked from a team via Rule 5 then stashed on the new team's 60-day and carried for the season and be retained.

    The player still has to be on the active MLB roster for a full season or 90 days, whichever comes last, for Rule 5 restrictions to be removed (allowing him to be optioned to the minors). Time on the injured list or rehab does not count towards that.

    So even if a team selected Enlow and waited out his recovery from surgery, they'd generally only get about a month of minor league rehab games for him before they'd have to activate him to the MLB roster or send him through waivers / back to the Twins.

    And as noted above, the 60-day IL doesn't exist during the offseason. So he'd occupy the selecting team's 40-man spot until about mid-February -- and of course, he'd continue occupying a 40-man spot in the following offseasons, if he wasn't returned to the Twins.

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    I would argue that protecting Enlow is pretty much a no-brainer. During the season you can stash him on the IL and they'll be able to maneuver around his roster spot in the offseason. There are just a whole bunch of fringe players that I would cut before risk losing a talented young starter like Enlow.

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    9 minutes ago, Janet27 said:

    I TOTALLY disagree with Rooker not being on the 40 man roster.

    If the Twins let him go he will be one of the many players who have left and have come back and been very successful with other organizations 

    Based on what? He's just not good, and hatd negative defensive value. If they keep him, where does he play?

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    1 hour ago, Lucas Seehafer PT said:

    To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team.

    Great article, but just so no one is confused, "with the same team" is not a requirement for Rule 5 eligibility or minor league free agency. Maybe "with an affiliated team" would be more accurate?

    Just like MLB players qualifying for arbitration or free agency, these minor league season counts continue even after a player is traded (Woods-Richardson), claimed on waivers (Ian Hamilton), or released and re-signed with a new org. And once the threshold has been met, they keep their eligibility for Rule 5 or minor league free agency every offseason after that point, unless they are on a 40-man roster.

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    14 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Based on what? He's just not good, and hatd negative defensive value. If they keep him, where does he play?

    Rooker's only hope to stick with the Twins is to hit enough to hold down DH, keeping Sano at first next season... but then that causes a roster pinch across all the corner positions. So... dunno?

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    However they have to work it, I don't want to risk losing Enlow at this point.  And as far as Rooker goes,  he seems to have good value as a DH, so if the Twins are going to lose him,  I hope its through trade so that they at least get something for him.  I still like his bat and think it will continue to get better and more consistent with more big league at bats.  But through trade, I would think we would at least get a mid-level prospect in return. 

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    1 hour ago, adjacent said:

    A question regarding Enlow: "However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins". Can the Twins do the same? That is, putting him in the 40-man roster, and immediately transfer him to the 60-day list?

    The 60 Day IL can't be used until Spring Training. 

    Also, if Enlow was taken and on the 60 Day IL all year, he would have to be on the 2023 roster all season or be offered back to the Twins. 

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    2 minutes ago, Silas said:

    What about Andrew Vasquez at AAA/St. Paul?  Why don't we ever hear anything about him?  Pretty good stats...big lefthander....27 yrs old.......drafted by the Twins.  Why isn't he a candidate to come up to the big club?  What am I missing here?

    Vasquez is a very interesting case! He was actually in MLB with the Twins in 2018-2019 before being waived and outrighted off the 40-man roster.

    Vasquez is eligible for minor league free agency this offseason if he's not on a 40-man roster.

    And if Vasquez signs a minor league contract before the Rule 5 draft, he would be eligible to be selected as a Rule 5 pick too -- not very common, although it did happen when the Twins signed R.A. Dickey to a minor league deal in November 2007, then lost him to Seattle in the Rule 5 draft the following month. (Dickey was later returned to the Twins and traded to Seattle without Rule 5 restrictions, and then signed with the Twins again as a minor league free agent the following offseason.)

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    5 minutes ago, Otto von Ballpark said:

    Great article, but just so no one is confused, "with the same team" is not a requirement for Rule 5 eligibility or minor league free agency. Maybe "with an affiliated team" would be more accurate?

    Just like MLB players qualifying for arbitration or free agency, these minor league season counts continue even after a player is traded (Woods-Richardson), claimed on waivers (Ian Hamilton), or released and re-signed with a new org. And once the threshold has been met, they keep their eligibility for Rule 5 or minor league free agency every offseason after that point, unless they are on a 40-man roster.

    That is correct. 

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    6 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    Rooker's only hope to stick with the Twins is to hit enough to hold down DH, keeping Sano at first next season... but then that causes a roster pinch across all the corner positions. So... dunno?

    Sano. Donaldson. Garver. Arraez. All are better hitters. All could/should DH. Maybe Miranda. 

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    2 minutes ago, Seth Stohs said:

    Also, if Enlow was taken and on the 60 Day IL all year, he would have to be on the 2023 roster all season or be offered back to the Twins. 

    Not quite -- the requirement for Rule 5 restrictions to be lifted is a full season *or* 90 days on an active MLB roster, whichever comes *last*.

    So, since we know that Enlow will not be on an active MLB roster for all of 2022, the selecting team will need 90 days spanning multiple seasons. Could be September 2022 plus the first 2 months of 2023, etc., although September roster size limits make this more difficult now too.

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    2 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Sano. Donaldson. Garver. Arraez. All are better hitters. All could/should DH. Maybe Miranda. 

    I don't disagree but I'd like to see the team move Donaldson in the offseason and Sano cannot be trusted. Rooker is more of a longshot for the 2022 roster but I'm not writing him off entirely yet.

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    18 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

    I don't disagree but I'd like to see the team move Donaldson in the offseason and Sano cannot be trusted. Rooker is more of a longshot for the 2022 roster but I'm not writing him off entirely yet.

    I admit part of my opinion is emotional....I hate early picks on bat first, no fielder, players, and really disliked this pick. A lot. I really did think he'd hit better..... Maybe he will. 

    Sano, in a terrible year.... Is still hitting very slightly above the average MLB player. Not great.... Clearly.... But still. 

    That still leaves Arraez, who no championship team would want as a fielder. And Garver. 

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    Rooker and Larnach need to play everyday to give them both a long look. Larnach has taken steps backward, especially his power, which has not been replaced by getting more 'other' hits. Both guys k a ton. Twins have quite a collection of those types. Rooker has been totally inconsistent. But Twins can afford to start them regularly down the stretch. Buxton also needs to finally get in there and play everyday, if thats remotely possible.       

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    1 hour ago, roger said:

    The only thing that I think you missed is at the end when you discuss the 19 players players who will/could be departing, you failed to take into consideration that the current 40-man has 46 players on it with 6 on the 60-day IL.  So the number of potential spots will be 19-6, or 13.  With 5 locks, they are then down to 8 potential spots for both young players to be added and open spots for free agent signings.  So it is probably a lot tighter than you presented.  And that assumes all the 16 players at the end are released, which certainly won't happen.

    This is an important point, which deserves to be repeated!

    With 6 guys on the 60-day IL, the Twins effectively have a 46 man roster right now, so they'll have to remove 6 guys first before they can start opening any spots for new additions.

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    8 minutes ago, insagt1 said:

    Rooker and Larnach need to play everyday to give them both a long look. Larnach has taken steps backward, especially his power, which has not been replaced by getting more 'other' hits. Both guys k a ton. Twins have quite a collection of those types. Rooker has been totally inconsistent. But Twins can afford to start them regularly down the stretch. Buxton also needs to finally get in there and play everyday, if thats remotely possible.       

    Heck, I'd prefer Larnach at DH over Rooker, with an OF of Martin, Buxton, Kepler.....Reifsnyder as the 4th OF for now.....and Larnach and Kiriloff available if needed in the OF.

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    3 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Heck, I'd prefer Larnach at DH over Rooker, with an OF of Martin, Buxton, Kepler.....Reifsnyder as the 4th OF for now.....and Larnach and Kiriloff available if needed in the OF.

    I'm disappointed in Larnach,frankly. He has been a 'regular' for some time now this season and hasn't been particularly impressive. Hopefully he improves to the point where he becomes a factor in 2022. There is still time.

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    So we have 46 guys on the current 40-man roster, including the 60-day IL guys.

    That goes down to 42 if we don't re-sign any of our 4 impending MLB free agents (including Vincent).

    But that goes back up to 48 considering the 6 minor league "locks" to be added for Rule 5 protection.

    So we actually have to cut 8 guys from the "up for grabs" list of 15 (Lucas's list minus Vincent), just to make 40 in November:

    • Charlie Barnes, LHP
    • Devin Smeltzer, LHP
    • Beau Burrows, RHP
    • Danny Coulombe, LHP
    • Luke Farrell, RHP
    • Edgar Garcia, RHP
    • Ralph Garza Jr., RHP
    • Juan Minaya, RHP
    • Cody Stashak, RHP
    • Lewis Thorpe, LHP
    • Derek Law, RHP
    • Willians Astudillo, UTIL
    • Jake Cave, OF
    • Kyle Garlick, OF
    • Rob Refsnyder, OF

    And we'll need to cut an additional player, beyond 8, for every non-lock prospect we want to protect, or any MLB free agent we sign or re-sign.

    It may not qualify as a "crunch" but we'll probably have to make a few tough decisions about interesting players.

    Edited by Otto von Ballpark
    missed one lock
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