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Inbox: How will Morrison's signing impact club?

Beat reporter Rhett Bollinger answers fans' questions
March 3, 2018

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The unexpected signing of Logan Morrison to be the club's everyday designated hitter is expected to have a ripple effect on the Twins' roster this spring.The signing doesn't bode well for first baseman Kennys Vargas and outfielder Robbie Grossman, who were expected to share DH duties, so

DUNEDIN, Fla. -- The unexpected signing of Logan Morrison to be the club's everyday designated hitter is expected to have a ripple effect on the Twins' roster this spring.
The signing doesn't bode well for first baseman Kennys Vargas and outfielder Robbie Grossman, who were expected to share DH duties, so the Twins have some important roster decisions in the coming weeks. With that in mind, it leads us to the first question of this week's Twins Inbox.

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Twins manager Paul Molitor met with both Grossman and Vargas after the Twins signed Morrison to explain the roster crunch and how it could impact them. Minnesota will open with a four-man bench, which is expected to include backup catcher Mitch Garver and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Ehire Adrianza is close to a lock as a utility infielder/left fielder, while the last spot is up for grabs.
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Grossman was told he'd have to make the team as a backup outfielder, and he's competing with Zack Granite for that position. Grossman's greatest asset is his ability to get on base with a .372 on-base percentage in 218 games since joining the Twins in 2016, but he's struggled defensively. Granite could make more sense because of his ability to play all three outfield spots to go along with his contact skills. But one consideration is that Grossman is out of options, while Granite can be sent to Triple-A Rochester to get regular playing time.
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Vargas, meanwhile, is likely to be placed on waivers at the end of Spring Training. There's no reason to make a move now, as there's a chance he could pass through waivers with teams finalizing their rosters. With his inconsistency offensively, he doesn't offer much trade value.
As for Erick Aybar, the most likely way he makes the team is if Miguel Sano opens the year on the disabled list or is suspended for his alleged sexual assault. Sano, though, has looked healthy so far, and is expected to be ready for the start of the season, barring a setback to his surgically repaired shin.

Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said he's likely done adding to the roster after trading for Jake Odorizzi and signing Anibal Sanchez and Morrison this spring. Adding another starter seems remote, although if the asking price dropped to one year, it would make some sense for the Twins. But there are no indications the market is dropping that much, and Minnesota's payroll is roughly $118 million, which is above the club record of $113 million.

It's a bit early to be talking about the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but if the Twins are contending at that point, it would make some sense to trade for starting pitching help. I think it's likely the Twins stand pat now and then re-evaluate their need for starting pitching at the deadline. They have a deep enough farm system to make a trade happen.

It's still hard to project how Phil Hughes will do after his second surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome. He looked solid in his first outing, hitting 91 mph, but struggled in his second time out against the Blue Jays on Saturday. He's had trouble staying healthy over the last three seasons, but the hope is he can be a capable fifth starter. If not, he's likely to pitch in long relief, as the Twins owe him $26.4 million over the next two years.
Hughes will be worth monitoring the rest of spring, as he remains in a competition with Sanchez and Adalberto Mejia for the final rotation spot.

Byron Buxton has hit in several spots this spring, including leadoff, but James Dozier is still expected to be the club's leadoff hitter to open the season. It's likely the Twins go with Dozier atop the order ahead of Joe Mauer, Sano and Morrison. Buxton could hit fifth to break up the lefties ahead of Eddie Rosario or bat sixth or seventh depending on the matchup.

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.