In the wake of Marwin Gonzalez signing with the Twins this week, it seems as though we can finally assume Minnesota is done adding position players to the roster. Now, fans can eagerly anticipate the season, looking forward to opening day, and how this new lineup is going to look. A lot of ink will be spilled, and a lot of attention will be paid to making the roster the best it can be when March 27th rolls around.
While most fans and a lot of sportswriters will focus on the beginning of this season, rest assured that the front office will be paying just as much attention to 2020 and beyond. This is especially important considering that so much of the new blood in the lineup is only locked in for the next year or two.
The statistic or skill set that was most obviously upgraded this winter was home runs and power. CJ Cron, Johnathan Schoop and Nelson Cruz are all liable to rack up a whole bunch of homers, but only Cron has a line on a roster spot in 2020. That means that, while Cruz has the DH locked up, and Cron is possibly only really in Minnesota of a couple of years, the Twins will be giving back a lot of that power production next season.
This is why I think that Tyler Austin has a much better shot at making the opening day roster than most people give him. Sure, this limits the flexibility of the opening day roster, but Austin is a bona fide power threat that can be plugged either into the designated hitter spot or first base if those spots are open again in 2020.
Austin has 5 years of team control left, but is out of options. If the Twins think he is part of the future, he needs to make the roster this season on opening day. 5 years of control for someone who hit 17 home runs last year isn’t nothing. If he doesn’t factor into the immediate future, but the team thinks they can compete, the Twins need to cash in on his value, likely in order to add pitching.
Tyler Austin is either going to make the roster this season, or he will be traded for something the Twins value as much as his pending team control. He won’t be given away for nothing. One way or another. Tyler Austin is going to factor into the Twins long term future.