Here is the Twins' 2021 Opening Day roster

March 31st, 2021

Kyle Garlick is in, Caleb Thielbar is in, and everything is set.

The Twins resolved their final two roster battles on Monday and set their 26-man roster for Opening Day, with Garlick winning the final outfield spot over Brent Rooker, and Thielbar holding on to his bullpen role in the face of strong challenges from non-roster pitchers Derek Law and Brandon Waddell.

Rooker was optioned to the alternate training site at Triple-A St. Paul, while Law and Waddell were reassigned to Minor League camp. Rooker and Waddell will still travel with the Twins as part of the five-man taxi squad. They also placed right-hander Edwar Colina on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation.

Garlick, 29, will be on the Opening Day roster for his first time after the Twins claimed him off waivers from the Braves just before the start of camp. He won the job with a team-leading five homers and 13 RBIs in Spring Training, and Minnesota has noted that it likes his bat against left-handed pitching in particular. He could be well-positioned for a part-time role alongside lefties Jake Cave and Luis Arraez in a left-field rotation.

"I think he was extraordinarily happy," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He had a fantastic camp from beginning to end. I think anyone watching us would be proud of the way he handed himself and the way he played."

Rooker, the club's No. 13 prospect, got the majority of reps alongside the starters in left field this spring to continue to work on his defense, but Baldelli indicated that the 26-year-old slugger still had a ways to go to become a "well-rounded" player. Rooker has always been a bat-first prospect, and his lack of a clear defensive fit has always been a question in his rise through the system.

"Brent Rooker has been a tremendous offensive player since the day he signed a professional contract," Baldelli said. "We think he's very capable at the moment of filling multiple roles on our Major League team. That's not the question. I think Rook knows that there are certainly things in his game that he still needs to focus on and lock in on and spend time on so he becomes a more well-rounded player."

Though Baldelli noted that both Waddell and Law should be important to the Twins' pitching staff this year, Thielbar won the bullpen spot with his proven results in the big leagues last season and his ability to match up against both right-handers and left-handers with his stuff. He has also rebounded well from the back strain that sidelined him for the start of camp.

Here's the Twins' final Opening Day roster:

Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers

The Twins moved Garver into the leadoff spot on Thursday against Martín Pérez, suggesting that Baldelli is once again comfortable with moving the backstop to the top of his lineup against left-handed starters. Though it appears likely that Minnesota will use a relatively even split in playing time at the position between Garver and Jeffers, it remains to be seen how Baldelli will determine that split since both hit right-handed. Could such a move indicate that Garver could have the edge against southpaws?

First base (1): Miguel Sanó

The strikeouts have been there this spring, of course, but there was also the home run crushed an estimated 458 feet on Thursday that showed how hard Sanó can impact the ball when he makes contact. Most of that power should come from first base, but Sanó could also slide back over to third base, where he could be another option behind Josh Donaldson. Since Rooker didn't make the roster, Willians Astudillo will likely be the primary backup here.

Second base (1): Jorge Polanco

Polanco's transition to second base appears to have gone smoothly, and his skills at shortstop remained evident in limited action this spring, including a pair of nice plays ranging into the hole on Monday. His left-handed swing has also looked much better this spring, with his right ankle feeling better than it has in some time. Arraez should be the primary backup here with the possibility of some depth from Astudillo.

Shortstop (1): Andrelton Simmons

Despite his late arrival to camp, Simmons has ramped up for the regular season with a slightly increased workload in most of his games, and he appears set to be the club's fixture at shortstop this season. With JT Riddle having been sent to Minor League camp, Polanco should serve as the primary depth behind Simmons at the position -- though Riddle appears likely to be one of the next men added to the roster if needed during the season.

Third base (1): Josh Donaldson

Donaldson has crushed the ball all spring following a late start to his game schedule in an attempt to ease his problematic calves into action. It'll remain to be seen how aggressive the Twins will be in their usage of the 2015 American League MVP Award winner early in the regular season. Arraez should be a primary backup here. Sanó could also slide across the diamond to fill in at his old position, and even Astudillo could see time at the hot corner.

Utility (2): Arraez, Astudillo

Arraez was always a lock here, considering he's done nothing but hit since he entered the league, and he was an Opening Day starter in 2020. He'll spend most of his time filling in at second base and third base, with the possibility of appearances in left field as well. Not only has Astudillo had a productive spring, but he also gives the Twins needed flexibility at catcher, corner infield and corner outfield, which will be particularly important with a short bench as Minnesota opens at a National League park.

Outfield (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Cave, Garlick

The prevailing question throughout camp was whether the Twins would keep No. 2 prospect Alex Kirilloff in the Major Leagues on Opening Day to serve as their everyday left fielder. But after Kirilloff went 4-for-31 (.129) this spring and was optioned down, the door opened for Rooker and Garlick to compete for the job until the final days of camp -- with Garlick coming out on top.

Baldelli has noted that the Twins could utilize a healthy rotation in left field to start the season that could involve Cave, Garlick and Arraez -- though he didn't rule out the possibility of someone eventually emerging as a true starter.

Designated hitter (1): Nelson Cruz

The 40-year-old really wants to join Astudillo as an option in the outfield, but Baldelli doesn't seem to have any plans to let Cruz play defense for the first time in a Twins uniform. He'll likely be limited to pinch-hitting only during the season-opening series in Milwaukee.

Starting pitchers (5): Kenta Maeda, José Berríos, Michael Pineda, Matt Shoemaker, J.A. Happ

Maeda will start Opening Day, Berríos will follow, Pineda and Shoemaker should pitch next in some order, and Happ should round out the rotation as the Twins look to give Happ as much time as possible to build up to the regular season following his late arrival to camp. Happ was up to 73 pitches in his final start of Spring Training, which should put him in good position to take on a full workload early in the regular season. Still, Randy Dobnak will remain on standby as a potential piggyback option if needed.

Relievers (8): Taylor Rogers, Alex Colomé, Tyler Duffey, Hansel Robles, Jorge Alcala, Cody Stashak, Thielbar, Dobnak

Dobnak won the long reliever/swingman role over Lewis Thorpe with a stingy spring performance fueled by the work he did on his sinker and slider -- and was also rewarded with a five-year, $9.25 million contract extension. After that, the final bullpen spot was awarded to Thielbar, who posted a 2.25 ERA last season. Rogers and Colomé appear in line to pitch the bulk of innings in save situations, with Duffey and Robles also factoring into high-leverage situations. The Twins also hope that Stashak and Alcala will take the next step to make up for some of their lost bullpen depth.

Taxi squad (5): JT Riddle, Rooker, Tomás Telis, Luke Farrell, Waddell

Riddle appeared to be the clear next man up among the non-roster invitees throughout camp, and it's no surprise that he's on the taxi squad considering his ability to play shortstop -- an organizational need -- and versatility. Telis provides some extra catching depth, and Farrell had eight strikeouts in 5 1/3 shutout innings in camp.