It doesn’t quite feel like it, perhaps because of the inactivity of the offseason, or maybe because time has lost all meaning in the past year, but Spring Training is scheduled to start in a few weeks. The Twins have sat out a great deal of the winter, but there are many great options still on the board, and now with projections coming out, fans can take a more clinical look at which positions are in the most urgent need of being addressed.
As it turns out, there aren’t too many mysteries with the team. There were a couple of notes that perhaps don’t align with my initial train of thought, or run counter to some thoughts that other bright writers have floated, or at least disqualifies those schemes in my opinion.
First, the things that everyone has already figured out. It’s quite clear that the weakest area on the roster right now is the bullpen. The organization lost four solid relievers this offseason, and hasn’t really done much to replace them yet. Second, Nelson Cruz’s return will be greatly appreciated when he rejoins the organization. Third, letting Eddie Rosario walk, while risky, seems to be a worthwhile risk. Alex Kirilloff is already expected to be near Rosario’s level of production in his rookie season. Jake Cave and Trevor Larnach could also contribute in the outfield.
Now, a couple of things that stood out to me, because they weren’t what I expected. First, the rotation isn’t nearly as deep as I had hoped, but on the other hand, perhaps it is a little better than I expected? There is a marked drop off from Kenta Maeda and Jose Berrios, but the third highest WAR among pitcher projections for the Twins belongs to Randy Dobnak, and not Michael Pineda. If I think Michael Pineda is a good enough option, then why not Randy Dobnak? But perhaps Pineda isn’t as reliable as I thought, in which case, the Twins are in bigger trouble than I feared in the rotation. One way or another, the Twins need at least one more starter, probably someone that can slot into the 3rd spot in the rotation.
Second, the middle infield is very good. There have been some people suggesting that the Twins take advantage of the bumper crop of available shortstops and moving Jorge Polanco or Luis Arraez to a super utility role, but I don’t think either player has the defensive chops to move around that much, and their offense has a long enough track record that it can no longer be discounted. I’m not sure getting another short stop would really push the team.
I think there is a need for depth, particularly as a defensive replacement. Right now, it looks like Cruz and a second catcher will take two of 5 potential back up roles, while Willians Astudillo and a fourth outfielder (probably Jake Cave) will get others. Someone like Jurickson Profar and his versatility could go a long way for the team.
Aside from that one player on offense, expect the Twins to be heavily rumored as a suitor on the pitching market for the rest of the month. It’s the weakest part of the roster, but we already knew that.