Tuesday, August 25, 2015

How Do The Twins Trim The 40 Man

Major League Baseball is quickly pushing towards September 1st; a day in which big league rosters are allowed to expand from 25 to 40 players. For many teams, this involves some roster reconfiguration. The Minnesota Twins are not an exception, and will need to re-evaluate who they view worthy of holding down an ever important spot.

For the Twins, this season represents something a bit different, as they are in the midst of a playoff race. While they are likely going to be on the outside looking in, maximizing roster potential in September is a must. Terry Ryan and crew will need to make some difficult decisions in the coming week however. Let's take a look at some of the candidates on the chopping block.

Pitchers:

A.J. Achter-RHP

Achter was a 46th round pick by the Twins in 2010. He has appeared in just 13 big league games, and has pitched 18.1 innings to the tune of a 4.91 ERA. Much better in the minors, Achter owns a 2.90 ERA in 366.1 IP. This seasons for Triple-A Rochester, Achter has compiled a 2.74 ERA in 46.0 innings. At this point, Achter has done everything asked of him, but his stuff profiles more like an AAAA type. He may pass through waivers unclaimed, but he's probably not the type to right your bullpen.

Logan Darnell-LHP

The Twins haven't called upon Darnell in 2015 after he pitched 24 big league innings with a 7.13 ERA last season. He's had a solid 2015 for Triple-A Rochester, and he recently took a perfect game into the 6th inning in his last start (he's being stretched out of late). His 3.05 ERA and 7.6 K/9 are some of the best marks of his MiLB career. Darnell is either going to be given a shot to prove it, or needs to cede way to someone else though.

Brian Duensing-LHP

Including Duensing on this list is less about September than it is about this offseason. Minnesota took Duensing to arbitration over the winter and settled on a one-year, $2.7 million deal. They would be best served to cut ties after 2015. The longtime Twin has been better of late, but his 4.25 FIP (fielding independent pitching) is in line with his 4.01 career mark, and his 4.5 K/9 is ugly out of the pen. There are better options out there (and on the farm), who are also much cheaper.

Casey Fien-RHP

This is somewhat or a mixed-emotions add for me. My trust in Fien as a late inning reliever has waned in recent seasons, but he has also remained relatively consistent. Fien is arbitration eligible in 2016, and remains under team control until 2019. On that alone, I'm not sure I'm sold on removing him. However, his declining strikeout rates (10.6 K/9 in 2013, 7.2 in 14, and 5.2 in 15) are a problem, and his FIP has steadily increased each of the past three years (3.16 in 13, 3.43 in 14, 3.62 in 15). If there's a better option, I wouldn't be opposed to exploring it.

Ryan O'Rourke-LHP

Back in 2010, the Twins selected O'Rourke out of a small town college in Massachusetts. He's now 27, and made his big league debut this season. Despite being a LOOGY (lefty one out guy), he's been hit around to an ERA north of 5.00 for the Twins. His career 4.15 MiLB ERA isn't inspiring either. O'Rourke is allowing lefties to hit just .156/.250/.250 while striking out 16 in 32 at bats. He's walked one-fourth of the righties he's faced though, and isn't a real answer to a shaky pen.

Aaron Thompson-LHP

Thompson was an early season surpise for the Twins. The former first round pick owned a 2.11 ERA and a .181/.235/.278 slash line against in his first 21.1 IP. Then the wheels fell off. Over his final 24 games for the Twins, Thompson pitched to the tune of a 10.64 ERA and allowed opposing hitters to slash .388/.444/.490 off of him. Since being demoted back to Triple-A Rochester, Thompson owns a 4.76 ERA and has just a 7/4 K/BB ratio in 11.1 IP. It's probably best for the Twins to move on from the reclamation project whether he's claimed or not.

Jason Wheeler-LHP

A former 8th round pick in 2011, Wheeler has had quite an eventful 2015. He's been demoted to Double-A Chattanooga twice, while being promoted to Triple-A Rochester once after starting the season there. In total, he owns a 5.73 ERA and a measly 5.7 K/9. His Double-A numbers are better (4.34 ERA 7.6 K/9), but still show little reason to be hopeful. With pitching as an asset throughout the farm, the 40 man roster spot could go to better use.

Position Players:

Chris Herrmann-C

Much like Duensing, Herrmann isn't an immediate DFA option for the Twins. He's on the 25 man roster as the backup catcher, and with Josmil Pinto (who's not catching) as the only other 40 man option, this isn't happening now. Regardless, Herrmann isn't a big leaguer, and the Twins have some serious issues behind the dish. Over the winter, addressing their backstop situation is a must. Herrmann is slashing .159/.225/.305, which is bad (and even worse by the standards of a guy with a career .187/.254/.289 slash line). Minnesota needs some catching depth, and Herrmann doesn't qualify as that.

Eduardo Nunez-Util

Smoke and mirrors was what Eduardo Nunez put up for a good portion of 2015. Now the owner of a .268 average, Nunez owned a .302/.333/.508 slash line up until the All Star Break. The catch was that he played in just 22 games and had just 66 plate appearances. He's been worth 0.6 fWAR on the season, which is at least a positive. Nunez however was someone I thought could have been DFA'd prior to the 2015 season starting. Better utility options are generally out there, and as an arbitration guy this upcoming season, he's not going to be worth the expense.

Shane Robinson-OF

If anyone assumed their role better than Shane Robinson in 2015, I'm not aware of it. Brought in to be a 4th outfielder, he was exactly that. It was Jordan Schafer that was kept out of spring training at the detriment of Aaron Hicks, not Robinson. In his first season away from the Cardinals, Robinson has slashed .255/.306/.331. His five steals tie a career high, and his 0.5 fWAR is on pace to be a career best. His defense was a boost to a Twins outfield in flux, and he gave the club everything asked of him. Now with the outfield in a more stable situation, Robinson can be thanked for his contributions and be made expendable.

Oswaldo Arcia-OF

Easily the highest profile name on this list, Arcia puts the Twins in a tough spot. He has played just 19 games in the big leagues this season, and is not deserving of a September callup. Despite a career best .276/.338/.379 slash line at the MLB level, he compiled 15 strikeouts and just four walks. Despite being a power guy (34 HR the last two seasons), he swings and misses far too often. At Triple-A Rochester, Arcia owns a .206/.265/.385 slash line with 11 home runs 75 strikeouts and just 17 walks. He has hit just .108/.202/.176 since July 21, and his attitude combined with effort have been in question most of his career. Out of options going forward, Minnesota dealing him this offseason seems like a good avenue to explore.

With a farm system ready to overflow with prospects, and some worthy September call ups not being on the 40 man roster, Minnesota will need to begin some turnover. Abover are a few of the names to keep eyes on. As the Twins look to get back into a yearly playoff picture, Minnesota will need to fill the 40 man with more quality than quantity types.

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