Monday, January 16, 2017

The 25 Headed To Target Field

The Minnesota Twins are quickly closing in on an end to the offseason. With pitchers and catchers reporting to sunny Fort Myers in short order, Paul Molitor and the Twins brass will need to evaluate who they take north to start the 2017 season. Projecting the 25 man roster in January once again leaves plenty of room for shifting, but I'll try to sort through what I see happening.

This offseason, Brian Dozier had been the talk of the town in regards to a potential trade with the Dodgers. He's not going anywhere now, and it would seem, for the foreseeable future. With that in mind, here's the 25 guys I believe Paul Molitor is best positioned to win with in 2017 assuming Derek Falvey and Thad Levine hold onto their second basemen.

Rotation (5)

  • Ervin Santana
  • Phil Hughes
  • Kyle Gibson
  • Hector Santiago
  • Trevor May
The biggest question mark here is Phil Hughes. Coming off Thoracic Outlet surgery, his health remains a major question. Players heal differently, and the surgery isn't one that has been perfected on baseball players by any means. I think he goes out of the gate, and the hope would be that his troubles are behind him health wise.

If Hughes is unable to stake claim to a rotation spot, I'd look next at Nick Tepesch, Adalberto Mejia and Jose Berrios with the latter holding a slight advantage. In reality, I think both start at Triple-A. Gibson, Santana, and Santiago are locks, unless Minnesota decides to make a late play on trading Ervin (which I'd support). Trevor May has worked as a reliever for much of the last two seasons now, but his back simply can't hack it. He may not be as dominant strikeout wise as a starter, but I think it's the best role for him to consistently contribute.

A year ago, the Twins had the worst starting rotation in baseball and it wasn't particularly close. It shouldn't be that bad again, but this group being around league average is quite a stretch too.

Starting Lineup (9)
  • Jason Castro C
  • Joe Mauer 1B
  • Brian Dozier 2B
  • Jorge Polanco SS
  • Miguel Sano 3B
  • Eddie Rosario LF
  • Byron Buxton CF
  • Max Kepler RF
  • Byungho Park DH  Kennys Vargas DH
Most of this should be pretty expected. Castro was brought in to start, and Dozier keeps the duo with Polanco up the middle if he stays. I'd like to see Mauer play less, but he remains the club's best defensive first basemen. Sano should settle into third a bit more, and the outfield should be pretty much set. I could see Molitor going Grossman in left over Rosario, but I think you start with the upside play of Rosario.

The one player that I continue to be higher on than everyone else is Byungho Park. I think there was a lot more to the wrist injury last year than we were told, and I'd be far from surprised to see him have a bounce back season. KBO players have fared well in the big leagues, and being the best over there, should give him a fighting chance.

Update: Vargas was DFA'd by the Twins when they signed Matt Belisle. I still think he's a superior option to Kennys Vargas, but he's got a massive hill to climb at this point. It appears that the new regime will give Vargas every opportunity to run away with the role.

Ideally, I'd rather not have Polanco playing shortstop, but Dozier would need to be moved for that to happen. Sano also has to get significantly better defensively this season if he's going to help Twins pitchers out.

Bench (4)
  • Eduardo Escobar
  • Robbie Grossman
  • Mitch Garver
  • Zach Granite Ehire Adrianza
This is probably the toughest area thus far to nail down just because of what options the Twins have at their disposal. I'd consider both Escobar and Grossman to be locks, but from there things get dicey. For the backup catcher role, John Ryan Murphy, Mitch Garver, and Chris Gimenez will need to battle it out. Gimenez has a leg up with Falvey, while Murphy was brought in by the former regime. I'm going with the offensive play here though, and believed that Garver deserved a shot last season. It's time he gets it.

I really wrestled with the last spot, and Granite ends up getting the nod for me. J.B. Shuck was worth -13 DRS over 60 games in CF for the White Sox last season. I like Daniel Palka a lot, but he can't play centerfield, and Danny Santana offers little in the way of offense or defense at this point. Granite would be making a big jump from Double-A, and he really only started to hit last season. That said, he'll steal bases, can be a pinch runner, and give Minnesota elite defense at all three outfield spots off of the bench.

Update: When the Twins signed Ehire Adrianza, I think it all but put the nail in Danny Santana's coffin. The interesting thing here is the new proposed bench would only consist of one extra outfielder, and it's a guy that is average at best defensively while not being capable of playing all three positions. Eduardo Escobar may actually have to hold off Adrianza on his own as well.

Bullpen (7)
  • Brandon Kintzler Closer
  • Ryan Pressly Setup
  • J.T. Chargois Setup
  • Taylor Rogers
  • Michael Tonkin
  • Tyler Duffey Matt Belisle
  • Justin Haley
There's a pretty glaring omission here, and that's by design. I'm not counting on Glen Perkins to be back for the Twins on Opening Day, and I'm far from certain as to what he'll give them throughout the season. Perkins underwent serious shoulder surgery in which he required his labrum being reattached to his shoulder. I'd love to see him return, look like an All Star, and be a potential trade chip to a contender in July. I just don't see it happening.

That being said, the closer incumbent is Brandon Kintzler. He's not an ideal fit in that he doesn't get the ball by anyone. He struck out just 5.8 per nine last season, but he also walked just 1.3 per nine. I'd rather get Kintzler to a lower leverage role, and I think the emergence of J.T. Chargois can accomplish that. I like Pressly a lot and think he also could factor into save situations for the Twins.

Taylor Rogers and Michael Tonkin return with both being reliable if not incredibly high ceiling options. By moving Duffey back to the pen, he settles into a scenario that he's familiar with having been a college reliever. His limited pitch repertoire should play up more in relief, and he could be a dominant arm. Rounding out the group, and operating as the long man, is Justin Haley. Selected with the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft, Haley doesn't have an incredible ceiling, but should have a pretty safe floor.

Update: Belisle becomes a lock after being signed to a big league deal by Minnesota. I think Duffey makes a lot of sense in relief, but suppose this gives the Twins a chance to allow him to keep starting at Triple-A. Ryan Vogelsong, Nick Tepesch, Craig Breslow, and a host of vets are going to compete for the final spots. Haley may not stick despite being the first Rule 5 pick, and I'd guess Tonkin has to be feeling on the hot seat. Ideally, Rogers and Chargois need to go north in my opinion.

No comments:

Post a Comment