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  1. The Twins have not been afraid of change. They have not been afraid to move guys up and down from Triple-A St. Paul with regularity. There were copious amounts of injuries and other ailments. There were also a couple of trades. Following the trade deadline trade of Nelson Cruz, Brent Rooker was recalled. The Twins have depth in the outfield still. Kyle Garlick did what he was asked to do, which his produce against left-handed pitching. Rooker provided some power. It was a question last year at spring training, and again it doesn't make sense for both to be on the roster in 2022. There will be some tough decisions and this may be another one. Kyle Garlick came into the season securing a spot on the 26-man roster. He made the Opening Day roster. In April, he landed on the COVID-IL. That was just the start of the issues for the outfielder and pinch hitter. At the beginning of June, Garlick left with a groin injury and eventually needing surgery to repair a hernia and left him out for the remainder of the season. It is unfortunate for him because in his 99 at-bats with the Twins in 2021, he had eight doubles and five home runs. In 63 plate appearances against southpaws in 2021, he hit .271/.302/.576 (.878) with six doubles and four homers. By spring training, Garlick’s injury will presumably be better, but will he still be on the 40-man roster? He will turn 30 in January, but still can provide strong offense against left-handed pitching. That may be important with lefties like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler in the outfield rotation. Garlick still has one option year remaining since he did not use one in 2021, so he could be stashed in St. Paul for additional depth. Brent Rooker's value to the team comes in the form of power and production and the plate. He has shown the power. Now he just needs an opportunity for regular playing time. At each minor league level, he initially struggled and within a couple of months he becomes incredibly productive. Can he do that at the big-league level? Rooker will be 27-years-old in 2022, not young, but certainly with room to continue growing. While Rooker is not a good defensive outfielder, his ability to play in the corners, and some first base, does give him value to the team. That said, Rooker has never had the typical lefty-righty splits. However, in 189 at-bats in 2021, he had 10 doubles and nine home runs. That is after he hit 20 homers in 62 games for the Saints. Versatility In March, Do-Hyoung Park wrote an article showing that Rooker may have already been preferred by management. While the two players have similar offensive productivity, Rooker stood out as the younger, more potentially dominant player: Indeed, one option, and the option I think would make sense, would be to try to trade Garlick, if there is any market for him. From a business standpoint (and yes, personal standpoint as a fan), there are better options with younger players who are ready for the big leagues. Rooker is more than able and prepared to remain on the 26-man roster. What do you think? Is Rooker ready, and should he remain on the big-league roster? What should the team do with Kyle Garlick? Could he have a role going forward? Leave a comment. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. The 60-Day IL allows teams to stash an injured player away without holding a 40 man spot. The Twins have utilized this six times this season in the way of four pitchers and two hitters. With young players needing 40 man roster spots to be protected from the Rule 5 draft this winter, it’s worth revisiting these players on a case-by-case basis. Alex Kirilloff This is probably the easiest one. The Twins former top prospect should be back with a healthy wrist by Opening Day and likely penciled in at first base. There isn’t anything that would change the Twins minds. Randy Dobnak Despite a nightmare season in which Dobnak put up a 7.83 ERA in 43 innings, he’s an easy add after the Twins extended him through 2026 on a very team-friendly deal. Regarding his role, it’s anyone’s guess at this point how the Twins plan to use him, but he’s been throwing bullpens recently and could even return from a finger injury before the end of 2021. The Twins can’t cut Dobnak loose given their commitment, not to mention his recent success in the MLB. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer only threw 4 2/3 innings without allowing a run before being put on the IL with an elbow injury. His 2022 may largely depend on the nature of his injury and whether his health can be counted on. Perhaps his lack of ceiling may give the Twins pause, but he has shown to be a competent Major League pitcher and perhaps deserves a little bit of run in a bullpen role. If he’s ready to pitch for opening day in 2022, I’d expect to see Smeltzer get one more look. Edwar Colina Colina got shelled in his lone MLB appearance in 2020 but boasts what some call the best slider in the Twins system to go along with his high-90s fastball. Colina was an arm many were excited to see get some real run this year before he underwent elbow surgery which ended his season before it began. As the Twins look to rebuild a bullpen in 2022, it’s hard to imagine them not gambling on the upside of Edwar Colina assuming his injury appears to be recovering as expected. Cody Stashak It’s possible Stashak was dealing with his back injury longer than the Twins knew, but it was a bit surprising to see him get as much of an opportunity as he did in 2021. With a 91 mph fastball, Stashak’s skillset revolved around his ability to limit walks when he debuted in 2019 which made his 13.3% walk rate this year all the more unacceptable. He upped his strikeout rate to nearly 35% at the expense of every other skill a pitcher could have as he finished with a 6.89 ERA. Stashak will be 28 next year and his ceiling is probably just an okay middle reliever which may make him an easy roster spot to dedicate to protecting another player from the Rule 5 draft. Kyle Garlick Garlick looked like the Twins best offseason acquisition for awhile and slashed .232/.280/.465 before being shut down with a sports hernia. Garlick does one thing well and that’s mash lefties, something the Twins were unable to set him up for consistently as injuries piled up. Unfortunately for Garlick, the Twins just don’t have a lot to gain from keeping a defensively-challenged 30-year-old with such a niche skillset. It’s hard to see the Twins not parting ways with Garlick unfortunately. It’s easy to look at this list of players who haven’t been contributing for quite some time and forget about them, but the Twins do have some solid players coming back off injury next year. The tricky part is trying to balance the roster on who is worthy of a return as they try and protect the necessary players to avoid another Akil Baddoo situation. Should any more of these six be definitively kept or let go this winter? Let us know below. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  3. Randy Dobnak Using Randy Dobnak as a reliever didn’t exactly go as planned at season’s start and he was sent to St. Paul to get stretched out as soon as the Triple-A season began. In the last couple weeks, Michael Pineda and Kenta Maeda have both ended up on the injured list so Dobnak’s spot in the rotation looks to be safe. In his first start, he pitched six shutout innings with a five to two strikeout to walk ratio. What might be the most encouraging sign is his 12 groundball outs including inducing a double play. When Dobnak is at his best, he is working quickly and using his sinker to get batters to hit the ball on the ground. Minnesota’s improved defense can certainly help Dobnak especially since he is using his sinker almost 50% of the time, which is a 6% jump from 2020. J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker both have ERAs north of 5.40, so Dobnak has the opportunity to take a rotation spot and run with it. Rob Refsnyder Entering the 2020 season, Refsnyder was an afterthought that bounced around through four different organizations. He was a career .217/.205/.297 (.602) hitter with nearly twice as many strikeouts as walks. The Twins signed him to a minor league deal this winter, but injuries to Byron Buxton and Jake Cave made it necessary for Refsnyder to be added to the roster and he’s taking full advantage of the opportunity. Entering play on Monday, Refsnyder is hitting .375/.429/.542 (.970) in nine games with the Twins. Kyle Garlick has been dealing with a groin injury that may continue to hamper him and this means even more time for Refsnyder. He’s 30-years old and doesn’t exactly fit into the team’s long-term plans, but there’s hope the team can ride his hot streaks as long as possible. Maybe he can turn into the 2004 version of Lew Ford? Luke Farrell Minnesota’s bullpen has struggled through most of the season and Farrell shouldn’t be seen as a savior, but he can certainly add depth. He is being used exclusively as a reliever for the first time in his career and there have been some positive signs. With St. Paul, he pitched 4 2/3 innings and allowed one run on two hits with two walks and nine strikeouts. He needs to prove he can translate those strikeout numbers to the big-league level. Guess what Wes Johnson has done with Ferrell? If you said increase his slider usage, you are correct. His slider usage has been increasing each year, but he took a big jump from 41.2% in 2020 to nearly 60% in 2021. His curveball has hardly been used at all as he almost exclusively uses his fastball and slider. His walk rate has been high throughout his big-league career so that will be something to keep an eye on moving forward. Do you think these three players can help the Twins through their recent rash of injuries? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Catchers (3): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers, Willians Astudillo Odd Man Out: None Garver and Jeffers have been locks to make the Opening Day roster since the 2020 season ended. Barring injury, Minnesota will rotate these two players throughout much of the season. Willians Astudillo hasn’t been on any previous version of the projected Opening Day roster, but the Twins have been hinting at him making the team. This includes signing Roberto Pena, a veteran catcher, to be a second catcher at Triple-A. Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons Odd Man Out: None Like the catching group, the infielders have been virtually set since the Twins signed Andrelton Simmons. Polanco, Arraez, and even Sano can be used at multiple defensive positions, so it’s going to be interesting to see how creative Baldelli will be with his line-up construction. Astudillo can also fit into this group as he has shown plenty of defensive versatility throughout his Twins tenure. Outfield (4): Jake Cave, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker Odd Men Out: Kyle Garlick, Alex Kirilloff The biggest Twins news of the week was that Alex Kirilloff was sent to the alternate site after he had a rough spring at the plate. This leaves the Twins with one decision to make as far as the last outfielder to make the club. In recent spring line-ups, Baldelli has been using the trio of Buxton, Kepler, and Rooker as his starting outfield. This leaves Cave as the fourth outfielder and Garlick on the outside looking in. Garlick has been impressive this spring, but he has an option left and the Twins can use him as depth at Triple-A. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz Boomstick will be bashing homers into his 40s and Twins fans are along for the ride. Rotation (5): Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker Odd Man Out: Randy Dobnak Dobnak isn’t going to be in the rotation to start the season, but that might not last for long. With his new and improved slider, Dobnak might be on track to be one of the AL’s biggest sleepers this season. Berrios may have made some adjustments to his fastball and that can be a scary proposition for hitters in the AL Central. Kenta Maeda will start on Opening Day in Milwaukee as he looks to build off his runner-up finish for the AL Cy Young. Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Randy Dobnak, Derek Law Odd Men Out: Shaun Anderson, Cody Stashak, Devin Smeltzer Anderson seemed like the type of player that might be able to fill the Matt Wisler type role on the club, but he was optioned to the minor league side. Smeltzer can fill multiple roles at Triple-A before being needed at the big-league level. Stashak and Law were vying for the last spot and Law’s strikeout filled spring put him over the top. Minnesota will also have the opportunity to use 14 pitchers at different times during the season, so some of the players at the bullpen’s back end will be shuffled back and forth between CHS Field and Target Field. Who do you think makes the Opening Day roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Things have been complicated from the start with Alex Kirilloff. Under the baseball’s current CBA, it’s in a team’s best interest to keep a young player in the minor leagues so the club can pick up an extra year of service time. As a side note, MLB and the MLBPA will need to work out a new CBA and this issue is likely one that will be addressed and possibly changed. There has been some indication that the Twins were willing to ignore this current practice as they have said that Kirilloff will have every opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, but his performance hasn’t pushed him ahead of others. Entering play on Monday, he has gone 4-for-31 (.129 BA) with two extra-base hits and an eight to one strikeout to walk ratio. His lone home run was a massive 420 foot shot and it came off a left-handed pitcher, so that’s one offensive positive from the spring. https://twitter.com/SlangsOnSports/status/1370079829354237956?s=20 Minnesota has clearly been getting their roster ready for Opening Day including lining up the rotation and using batting orders that will be similar to the regular season. In the last two “Opening Day” line-ups, Brent Rooker has been used as the starting left fielder and he has been having a much stronger spring. He is hitting .381/.391/.667 with three doubles and a home run. Rooker is considered a rookie too, but he is already 26-years old so there is less of an urgency to pick up an extra year of service time. Rooker isn’t the only option in left field as Kyle Garlick has been making his presence known in the Twins line-up. Entering play on Monday, he has gone 9-for-24 with four home runs and a double. This spring he leads the team in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS. Garlick and Rooker both have minor league options remaining, so that can play into the team’s decision as well. Another wrinkle in this equation is the fact that the Triple-A season was pushed back a month with Opening Day scheduled for May 4. This means Kirilloff can’t go to Triple-A to get in more work and he already missed a full season of development in 2020. St. Paul will be used as an alternate site before the Triple-A season starts, so he can get into a routine there and be called up whenever the team feels he is ready. Minnesota might be ready to see what Kirilloff can do at the big-league level. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli hasn’t been referring to Kirilloff in future tense anymore, because he has done almost everything he needs to prove he is MLB ready. "It's not exactly potential," Baldelli said. "He just hasn't had the opportunities yet at the Major League level to show what he can do. We think he's already a good offensive player. He's handled himself really well.” Kirilloff’s defensive flexibility might also help his chances of making the Opening Day roster. He is athletic enough to play in a corner outfield spot, but he also has a chance to be very good at first base. His defensive value is higher than Rooker and Garlick, so that might make up for his poor offensive numbers. Spring training offers such a small sample size that the numbers produced by players need to be taken with a grain of salt. Kirilloff has struggled, but he still has an opportunity to come north with the club for Opening Day. Do you think Kirilloff cracks the Opening Day roster? Are you worried about his spring performance? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Here's a look at how the 2021 Minnesota Twins roster and payroll are shaping up, as spring training bears down upon us. The $124 million payroll estimate above is merely a baseline – with reachable performance incentives added in (mainly Kenta Maeda's), the Twins will probably be well north of $130 million. It'd be the highest payroll in franchise history, although they were on track to spend more than $140 million last year before the season was shortened. Are they done? That's not entirely clear. But the 40-man roster is full, and the team is looking pretty complete. Here are some updates and things to watch as we wait for the Lee County Sports Complex to soon spring to life. IF THE SHOEMAKER FITS... The Twins have dropped plenty of hints that they were monitoring the starting pitcher market, seeking a reasonably-priced veteran to come in and compete with Randy Dobnak for the fifth rotation job. On Monday, they got their guy, agreeing to terms with 34-year-old right-hander Matt Shoemaker on a one-year deal worth $2 million. Shoemaker has much to prove on the health front, having thrown just 166 innings combined over the past four years due to various injuries. But as Andrew Thares pointed out ahead of the signing, Shoemaker saw a big spike in velocity last year and there are some signs his pitch mix can be further optimized by the Twins. Plus, the righty ended last year in good shape physically, and even got the nod in Game 1 of the postseason for Toronto last year, firing three shutout innings against the Rays. The presence of a perfectly dependable fallback option in Dobnak gave Minnesota the chance to gamble a bit in their final rotation spot. While some might have liked to see a higher-upside play such as James Paxton (who signed with Seattle last week for $8.5 million), Shoemaker can be a very strong fifth starter if healthy. ROUNDING OUT THE RELIEF CORPS In the days following their big free agency additions of Nelson Cruz and Alex Colomé, the Twins brought in a few more bullpen candidates, acquiring Shaun Anderson via trade and Ian Hamilton via waivers. The latter might already be on his way out, as the Twins designated him for assignment just days after claiming him, making room for Colomé. If another organization snags him, it'll be Hamilton's fourth time switching places since last September. If not, the Twins can keep him around as quality non-roster bullpen depth, alongside fellow waiver pickup Brandon Waddell. As for Anderson, it seems he is here to stay after the Twins acquired him from San Francisco in exchange for outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. Anderson boasts big stuff – an upper-80s slider and spin-heavy mid-90s fastball – but the challenge for Minnesota lies in helping him command it. I wrote here about a mid-August incident in 2020 where Anderson buzzed Mike Trout's tower three times in one week, leading to some on-field tension and infuriating Angels manager Joe Maddon. If the Twins can help him reign in his intriguing stuff, Anderson could be a big addition to this bullpen. Will he make the Opening Day roster? PROJECTING THE OPENING DAY BULLPEN Last week I was joined by John Bonnes and David Youngs on Offseason Live to break down the bullpen picture and project the Opening Day setup. Together we tried to determine which relievers will be in the mix when the season starts, and what the pecking order might be. Here's where we landed: Taylor Rogers Tyler Duffey Alex Colomé Hansel Robles Jorge Alcala Caleb Thielbar Cody Stashak Lewis Thorpe At that time, we were under then impression that Thorpe was out of minor-league options, giving him an inside track for the long relief role. Dobnak was also still penciled in as the fifth starter. With the revelation coming to light this week – via Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic – that Thorpe will get a rare fourth option year, the Twins are no longer obligated to carry him coming off a bad year. Meanwhile, Dobnak being supplanted from the rotation makes him the ideal fit for a long man/piggy-backing role, with which he's fairly familiar. Thus, we now have Dobnak as the eighth reliever in our roster projection, with Thorpe likely headed to St. Paul. SPICING UP THE OUTFIELD The Twins used another waiver claim last week to add outfielder Kyle Garlick, who effectively replaced the previous week's waiver claim, Hamilton. Garlick infuses helpful corner outfield depth, with Minnesota losing both Eddie Rosario and Marwin González, and his right-handedness adds some nice balance alongside Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Jake Cave, and Trevor Larnach. Garlick hasn't had a ton of success in the majors (.691 OPS in 76 plate appearances), but he has slugged .553 against left-handed pitching, and he slashed .292/.364/.708 versus southpaws at Triple-A in 2019. Given how mightily the Twins struggled in this department last year, the decision to swap out a lefty swinger in Wade for a lefty masher in Garlick makes plenty of sense. Since Garlick has an option, he seems likely to open in Triple-A barring injuries. TWINS DONE MAKING BIG MOVES? The Twins could arguably use further additions in the bullpen, but it sounds unlikely they've got any big bullets left to fire. As Phil Miller reported in the Star Tribune, Derek Falvey indicated the the "heavy lifting is done" after the team committed nearly $40 million to Cruz, Colomé, Andrelton Simmons and J.A. Happ in the span of a few weeks. "We'll have some other conversations about other potential guys as well as nonroster fits and others that will compete. But I feel really good about our pitching right now," Falvey said. Miller understandably inferred this to mean that Jake Odorizzi is basically out of the picture, which seems all the more certain after Shoemaker's signing. The 40-man roster is full and the payroll seems to be essentially maxed out. I'd be surprised if they sign anyone else to a big-league deal. That said, I still fully expect the Twins to bring in a few non-roster relievers. Among the noteworthy names still unsigned: David Robertson, RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Ian Kennedy, RHP Tyler Clippard, RHP, Oliver Drake, RHP Brad Peacock, RHP Chaz Roe, RHP Brandon Workman, RHP Jeremy Jeffress, RHP A.J. Ramos, RHP Cam Bedrosian, RHP Nobody on that list has particularly high stock at the moment, obviously, but there are plenty of legitimate names. I'd be thrilled to bring in a few of those guys on non-guaranteed contracts and get a good look at then. I'm sure the Twins would too. But for now, with the preliminary list of non-roster invites announced and the first player player group reporting to camp on Friday, it's time to start getting familiar with the group we have. For the most part, this is probably it, and from my view it's a dang good roster. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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