MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the last Twins Inbox of 2017, a year that saw Minnesota take a huge step forward with its run to the American League Wild Card Game after losing 103 games in '16.But there are still plenty of questions about the Twins heading into 2018, and that's the
MINNEAPOLIS -- It's the last Twins Inbox of 2017, a year that saw Minnesota take a huge step forward with its run to the American League Wild Card Game after losing 103 games in '16.
But there are still plenty of questions about the Twins heading into 2018, and that's the theme of this week's Inbox:
:: Submit a question to the Twins Inbox ::
Twins general manager Thad Levine said at the Winter Meetings the club plans to rotate players such as Miguel Sano, Joe Mauer, Robbie Grossman and Kennys Vargas at designated hitter instead of signing a veteran bat. Vargas is out of options, and Minnesota wants to give him one last chance to prove he can handle Major League pitching consistently. Levine said he believes Vargas' power "is as significant as any on the market."
It's a great question, and it's something the Twins will at least explore during Spring Training. Levine said discussing extensions with pre-arbitration-eligible players and players in the last year of their contract is something they'll get into once free agency is over.
James Dozier has become incredibly valuable for Minnesota both on and off the field, but the Twins do have emerging options in the middle infield with Jorge Polanco and No. 2 prospect Nick Gordon. A wild-card scenario could be Dozier moving to third base with Sano moving to first once Mauer's contract expires, but that's just hypothetical at this point. Of course, Mauer's situation is another question.
It's hard to picture Mauer playing for any other team, but with his resurgence in 2017, it's going to be interesting to see what happens once his contract expires after next season. Mauer hit .305/.384/.417 with excellent defense at first base, but he will be 35 after next season.
There's a strong chance the Twins will have Sano move to first base in the near future, so if Mauer returns, it could be in a part-time role. But it's a situation that will definitely be worth monitoring.
Minnesota is open-minded about trades and will at least explore opportunities and check in about pitchers, such as Pittsburgh's Gerrit Cole or Tampa Bay's Chris Archer. But reading between the lines, it seems the front office is more likely to go the free-agency route. The Twins have room in their budget to sign a quality starter, and they wouldn't have to sacrifice losing valuable prospects like they would in a trade.
• Hot Stove Tracker
With his speed, defense and ability to make contact at the plate, Zack Granite is a strong favorite to be the fourth outfielder, but he will have to earn it during Spring Training. It would a big surprise, however, if he didn't make the roster. Grossman will also be an extra outfielder.
The word at the Winter Meetings is that the series between the Twins and Indians in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from April 17-18 is still on despite the effects of Hurricane Maria. Nothing official has been announced, however.
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter **@RhettBollinger** and **Facebook**.