The Twins Opening Day Roster is Starting to Take Shape

Mar 26, 2023 - 6:06 PM
Atlanta Braves v <a href=Minnesota Twins" src="" />
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Coming into Spring Training, the Twins’ roster seemed like it was all but finalized. However, as happens most Springs, injuries and slow recoveries threw some hitches in the Twins’ plan. However, with a few moves this morning, it seems like the Opening Day roster is all but set.

As roster cuts happen throughout the league, there will likely be a few players the Twins could look at signing or picking up on the waiver wire (Luke Voit is once again available!). Derek Falvey is also likely exploring any last-minute trade options, similar to the Rogers for Paddack and Pagán swap right before the start of the 2022 season.

Assuming health, this was likely going to be the 26-man roster.

  • C: Christian Vázquez
  • 1B: Alex Kirilloff (IL)
  • 2B: Jorge Polanco (IL)
  • 3B: Jose Miranda
  • SS: Carlos Correa
  • LF: Joey Gallo
  • CF: Byron Buxton
  • RF: Max Kepler
  • DH: Nick Gordon
  • Bench: Ryan Jeffers, Donovan Solano, Kyle Farmer, Michael A. Taylor
  • Rotation: Pablo López, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda
  • Bullpen: Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge López, Jorge Alcala, Jovani Moran, Emilio Pagán, Trevor Megill (optioned)

Now with injuries, Joey Gallo likely shifts to first and Nick Gordon to second. Additionally, the Twins stated that Buxton will be the everyday DH to start the season in an effort to keep his legs fresh. Taylor should slot in as the centerfielder for the time being, but that still leaves openings in left field, a bench spot, and a bullpen spot.

Left Field: Trevor Larnach

Atlanta Braves v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

This is the easiest decision of them all. Trevor Larnach has been the Twins’ best hitter in Spring Training and looks like the version of himself that we’ve seen in his few healthy stretches the last couple seasons. He gets on base, hits bombs, and plays a decent enough left field. With Nick Gordon out of options, and Larnach having one remaining, he likely would have been the odd man out, but with Kirilloff needing more time to heal his wrist and Gallo sliding to first to cover for him, Larnach is in line to start in left on Opening Day.

Other candidates: Matt Wallner, Gilberto Celestino (injured)

Bench Player: Willi Castro

Tampa Bay Ravs v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

If Larnach’s been the Twins’ best offensive player this Spring, Castro might be second best. Hitting .273/.400/.576, he’s done everything he can to earn a spot. It’s unrealistic to expect Castro to maintain that production (his career OPS is 12% below league average), but he is still relatively young at 26 and has plenty of major league experience over the last few years with the Tigers. Of course, his real value isn’t necessarily his bat, but his versatility. Last season Castro defended every position except first base and catcher, and the Twins have repeatedly shown they value that type of versatility. With Nick Gordon likely being forced into an everyday role, having a guy like Castro who can fill in anywhere is valuable.

Castro would need a spot on the 40-man roster, but the Twins currently have one open, and could easily create another if needed by moving Matt Canterino to the 60-day IL.

Other candidates: Kyle Garlick (reassigned to minor league camp this morning), Gilberto Celestino (injured), Edouard Julien (never played above AA, should see MLB time soon after a strong Spring)

Bullpen: Who knows!

Boston Red Sox v Minnesota Twins Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

Coming into camp, this seemed like Trevor Megill’s spot to lose, and lose it he did. In 6.2 innings, Megill faced 33 batters and allowed 14 of them to reach base. His ERA was 10.80. He gave up 3 home runs. It was ugly all around, and reminiscent of how he looked down the stretch last year. His stuff is tremendous, but the walks and home runs are untenable. So now there’s an open spot in the bullpen, and it could go to anyone. Let’s run through the candidates.

Bailey Ober was an option if the Twins wanted to go with a 6-man rotation to start the year, but with so many early days off, it wasn’t necessary. He was optioned to Triple-A this morning. He’ll be back up with the Twins as soon as they need another starter.

Josh Winder, Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic are all on the 40-man roster, but the feeling around the organization is that they want that foursome to continue to work as starters, at least for now. Winder also hasn’t pitched this Spring with a sore shoulder, and Balazovic got in a bar fight and broke his jaw (he swears he didn’t do anything though...)

Jeff Hoffman, Danny Coulombe, and Jose De León have all looked very strong in Spring Training as veteran non-roster invitees. Many figured that one of them could be added to the roster for Opening Day, but they were all reassigned to Minor League camp in the last couple days. I would expect to see each of them with the Twins at some point this season, regardless.

Ronny Henriquez probably could have had a good shot at this spot, but elbow soreness kept him out of any Spring Training option. He is technically still in Major League camp.

Aaron Sanchez has given up 15 runs in 8.2 innings this Spring. No thanks. He was reassigned to Minor League camp.

Randy Dobnak is still with the organization after getting removed from the 40-man roster last year. He has barely pitched the last couple seasons due to injury and has had some newfound walk issues in his limited appearances. A soft-throwing, pitch-to-contact guy like Dobnak isn’t going to hang around if he also can’t throw strikes.

Brent Headrick is a recent 40-man addition who put up strong numbers this Spring, but he hasn’t pitched above Double-A and the Twins are refining his stuff to play better with more advanced hitters. He was optioned to St. Paul.

So who’s left?

The leader in the clubhouse seems to be Cole Sands, who was not very good in his Major or Minor League action last season. He offers more length, is already on the 40-man, and the Twins are hoping that a permanent move to the bullpen could help his stuff in shorter spurts, a la Griffin Jax. His numbers are better this Spring, but he’s still giving up far too many hits.

This is the one area where I think the Twins could still be looking to make an addition. Even if Megill looked good this Spring, his and Pagán’s historic unreliability left them short on bullpen depth. If there are no other additions, expect Sands to be the guy, but I would put my money on them making a waiver wire pickup as other teams cut down their rosters.

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!