MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins head to Spring Training, there remains uncertainty about their rotation, especially with ace Ervin Santana out for possibly the first month of the season after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger.The biggest question this spring will be how the rotation shakes out, as the
MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Twins head to Spring Training, there remains uncertainty about their rotation, especially with ace Ervin Santana out for possibly the first month of the season after undergoing surgery on his right middle finger.
The biggest question this spring will be how the rotation shakes out, as the club is mostly set on the offensive side and there are only a few spots to compete for in the bullpen after the signings of Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke and Addison Reed. The Twins remain in the hunt to sign a starting pitcher, so things can change, but here's an early look at how the 25-man roster could look come Opening Day against the Orioles on March 29.
Catcher (2):Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
In the second year of his three-year deal, Castro will start at catcher for the second straight season, and Garver figures to be his backup after a strong year at Triple-A Rochester and getting a taste of the Majors last season. Garver can hit and has improved defensively, and he will compete with Bobby Wilson for the backup role.
First base (2): Joe Mauer, Kennys Vargas
Mauer is in the last year of his contract, and he had his best campaign since 2013 last season, hitting .305/.384/.417, while playing strong defense at first. The 34-year-old's future remains up in the air, but he's entrenched at first this season. Vargas, who is out of options, will have to compete for a spot on the roster as a designated hitter and backup to Mauer.
Second base (1):James Dozier
Like Mauer, Dozier is also in the last year of his contract, but he has been vocal about wanting to sign an extension. Dozier has been the club's most consistent offensive performer the past three seasons, and he won an American League Gold Glove Award last year.
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Third base (1):Miguel Sano
It's not a guarantee that Sano will be at third on Opening Day, as he's coming off surgery to insert a titanium rod into his left shin and also could face discipline from Major League Baseball for an alleged sexual assault. However, the Twins have said Sano should be healthy by the start of the season, and they are waiting on more from MLB's investigation.
Shortstop (1):Jorge Polanco
Polanco held his own in his first season at shortstop, getting better as the season went along. He had a big second half, hitting .293/.359/.511, and he will look to be more consistent, offensively and defensively, this year.
Outfield (4): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Robbie Grossman,
The Twins love their young starting outfield of Rosario, Buxton and Kepler, and Buxton could be poised for a breakout year after his incredible second half offensively last season. Grossman figures to share designated hitter duty with Vargas, while occasionally playing corner outfield. Zack Granite will also compete to be a backup outfielder with his speed and ability to play all three positions.
Utility (2):Eduardo Escobar, Ehire Adrianza
Escobar is coming off his best season, filling in capably for Sano down the stretch and surprisingly hitting 21 homers. Adrianza is a plus-defender at any infield position and can also play some corner outfield.
Starting pitchers (5):Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Adalberto Mejia, Phil Hughes, Tyler Duffey
Berrios and Gibson are both locks to make the rotation, while Mejia's chances were improved by Santana's injury. Hughes is coming off a second surgery to alleviate thoracic outlet syndrome and will need to prove he's healthy this spring. The Twins are still likely to sign a starting pitcher, and possibly two, which makes the last spot hard to predict. But as of now, Duffey will be stretched out to start and could get another chance in the rotation. Otherwise, prospects Aaron Slegers, Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero will be in the mix.
• Twins enthusiastic about revamped bullpen
Bullpen (7): Rodney, Reed, Duke, Trevor Hildenberger, Taylor Rogers, Thomas Pressly, Alan Busenitz
Rodney, Reed, Duke, Rogers and Hildenberger figure to make the core of the bullpen, while Pressly is coming off a down year, but he still has elite stuff and is out of options. The last spot is up for grabs, but Busenitz is coming off a strong rookie season. Rule 5 reliever Tyler Kinley will get a strong look, along with other youngsters such as John Curtiss, J.T. Chargois and Gabriel Moya.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.