Breaking down the Twins' potential '22 roster

October 25th, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- It's understandable if there was some difficulty keeping tabs on the Twins' constantly shifting roster toward the end of the 2021 season, considering all of the turnover that followed the July 30 Trade Deadline as the club looked to evaluate its roster outlook for '22 and beyond.

Consider, for example, that when the dust settled the Twins had used 35 pitchers during the regular season, one shy of the franchise record. Needless to say, not all of those arms finished the season with the team, and fewer still could factor in beyond 2021.

With all that in mind, let's break down the state of the Twins' roster as the team enters the offseason, highlighting the players who made the most meaningful contributions to the big league team and where they could stand moving forward.


Mitch Garver (second-year arbitration eligible): The 30-year-old rebounded from a brutal 2020 with big numbers (a 140 OPS+) despite missing significant time. Depending on how soon the Twins think they can contend, Garver might be a trade candidate with the club needing pitching and the young Ryan Jeffers hoping to take the next step in his development.

Ryan Jeffers (pre-arbitration): The former No. 6 prospect was challenged by an adjustment to lessened playing time and struggled to a .199/.270/.401 slash line with 14 homers in 85 games. Still, considering his talent and that he's only 24 years old, Jeffers appears poised to take the reins at some point as the club's long-term fixture at catcher.

Ben Rortvedt (pre-arbitration): A .169/.229/.281 slash line wasn't too pretty for the rookie, but Rortvedt threw out seven of the 16 runners who attempted to steal against him for a 44 percent caught stealing rate, nearly double the league average of 23 percent.


Miguel Sanó (signed through 2022 with club option for '23): The notoriously streaky Sanó again showed off both his downside and upside, with a torrid second half carrying him to a respectable 30 homers and a .778 OPS. Still, the season appeared to be a wakeup call for Sanó after he lost significant playing time to rookie Alex Kirilloff during the summer.


Jorge Polanco (signed through 2023 with options for '24 and '25): Freed from the effects of his lingering right ankle issues, Polanco led the club in games (152), hits (158), runs (97), doubles (35), homers (33) and steals (11). He'll be back in '22, likely at second base, but the Twins will need to address their shortstop situation.


Andrelton Simmons (free agent): Simmons' bat was a big detriment (a 57 OPS+ with batted ball metrics among the league's worst) but his defense was still elite, with his 16 outs above average ranking sixth among all MLB defenders. Could he be back on another stopgap deal to shore up the defense behind a young pitching staff while Royce Lewis matures?


Josh Donaldson (signed through 2023 with club option for '24): Donaldson played 135 games, finished second on the team in plate appearances and posted an .827 OPS with elite batted ball metrics, a solid outcome for his age-35 season. His contract is limiting to the Twins in the short-term, but the dollars and Donaldson's age will also make a trade difficult.


Luis Arraez (first-year arbitration eligible): Quietly valuable despite a dip in his offensive numbers, the contact king Arraez saw the majority of his defensive action at second and third base. The Twins appear to like him in his current multipositional role.

Willians Astudillo (first-year arbitration eligible): Though he's a fan favorite, Astudillo's grip on a roster spot is slipping. His defensive value is limited when he's not an option at catcher (as he wasn't for most of 2021), and he's now out of Minor League options.

Nick Gordon (pre-arbitration): The 25-year-old resurrected his career with his first taste of the Majors following years of health issues, and there's almost certainly a spot on the bench next year for a versatile player like Gordon whose skillset includes both center field and shortstop.


Byron Buxton (fourth-year arbitration eligible): Though injuries again took their toll, Buxton's elite tools came together in full force with true MVP-caliber, consistently game-changing play. The biggest story of the Twins' offseason will revolve around whether they can reach an extension agreement with Buxton -- and if not, what kind of trade could be in play.

Max Kepler (signed through 2023 with club option for '24): Kepler's 2019 season looks more and more like an outlier after another year of challenges getting balls in play to fall for hits despite strong plate discipline. Considering the outfield crowd, Kepler's team-friendly contract and his ability in center field, he would make sense as a trade candidate.

Jake Cave (first-year arbitration eligible): Cave's offensive numbers were almost all career worsts after he missed significant time with a back issue. He has a remaining Minor League option, but does he still fit in a mostly left-handed outfield?

Brent Rooker (pre-arbitration): Rooker will figure into the corner outfield mix in 2022, but considering his significant defensive limitations, there could be some urgency for him to cut the strikeouts and find offensive consistency.

Alex Kirilloff (pre-arbitration): Assuming the 23-year-old recovers well from his season-ending wrist surgery, he'll be poised to be a near-everyday starter in 2022, likely splitting time between outfield and first base.

Trevor Larnach (pre-arbitration): Larnach was rushed to the big leagues, where he showed glimpses of his talent before he was optioned back to Triple-A St. Paul amid a prolonged slump. Don't be surprised if he opens next season in the Minors, though he should eventually impact the 2022 Twins as a corner outfielder.

Rob Refsnyder (second-year arbitration eligible): The veteran got an opportunity due to a slew of outfield injuries, but did he do enough (.245/.325/.338) to earn a spot as a fourth outfielder on the 2022 team?


Kenta Maeda (signed through 2023): Minnesota's Opening Day starter struggled through much of 2021 and underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery on Sept. 1. There's some hope he could return toward the end of '22, but that will depend on his recovery.

Michael Pineda (free agent): Pineda wasn't moved at the Trade Deadline and finished out his walk year with his signature consistency. Considering his success for the Twins' organization, the mutual respect and his relative affordability, a reunion could make sense.

Bailey Ober (pre-arbitration): One of the most pleasant surprises of the 2021 season, Ober added several ticks to his fastball, maintained his pinpoint command and pitched to a 4.19 ERA in 20 starts after struggling with injuries throughout the Minors. He'll almost certainly have a rotation spot in '22.

Joe Ryan (pre-arbitration): Ryan's season ended with his only clunker in five starts as a Twin following his arrival in the Nelson Cruz trade with Tampa Bay, but the other four starts showed the poise and stuff that should ensure a rotation spot for him in 2022 and a prominent role in the coming years.

Griffin Jax (pre-arbitration): The rookie had significant struggles with home runs as he made 14 starts down the stretch and posted a 6.37 ERA. A spot in the 2022 rotation is far from guaranteed, but he should factor in as a depth option at a minimum.

John Gant (third-year arbitration eligible): Though the Twins used the 29-year-old in relief when he first arrived via a Trade Deadline deal with the Cardinals, Gant finished the year in the rotation. Either a starting spot or a bullpen role could be in his future if he's tendered a contract for 2022.

Randy Dobnak (signed through 2025 with options for '26-28): Dobnak experienced prolonged struggles for the first time in his career before losing much of his year to recurring right middle finger issues. Signed to a long-term, affordable contract, Dobnak will at minimum be a depth starting option in 2022, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see him at the back end of the rotation.

Lewis Thorpe (pre-arbitration): This should have been a prove-it year for Thorpe, but the left-hander instead had most of his season wiped out by left shoulder issues. Now out of options, this spring could be now-or-never time for the 25-year-old.


Alex Colomé (mutual option for 2022): The veteran blew a save on Opening Day as part of three blown saves and three losses in April, losing his closer role before finding his footing in the second half. The Twins can pay Colomé a $1.25 million buyout if they don't exercise his $5.5 million option for '22.

Taylor Rogers (fourth-year arbitration eligible): The left-hander was dominant before he was shut down before the Trade Deadline with a left middle finger injury. He's set for another raise in arbitration from his $6 million price tag in 2021, but he's been one of the game's elite lefties over the last few years and will again be a back-end bullpen piece if he's not traded.

Tyler Duffey (third-year arbitration eligible): Duffey started slow with control issues but finished with a dominant second half to leave his season ERA at 3.18. He'll assuredly continue to pitch in leverage roles in 2022, though the Twins have been flexible with Duffey's usage in those situations throughout the years.

Caleb Thielbar (second-year arbitration eligible): The Twins appear to have found a gem in the 34-year-old lefty, whose strikeout rates have surged in his return to Minnesota following a brief transition to college coaching. He'll again be an important situational leverage arm in the 2022 bullpen.

Jorge Alcala (pre-arbitration): On the back of a much-improved changeup, Alcala had his long-awaited breakout following the Trade Deadline, finishing his season with a 0.87 ERA in his last 18 outings. He'll be a leverage arm in 2022. Could that push him into eighth or ninth innings with his electric stuff?

Juan Minaya (first-year arbitration eligible): One of many Minor League free-agent pickups by the Twins' pitching braintrust over the years, Minaya looks to have carved himself a middle-relief role in the 2022 bullpen with exemplary results down the stretch this year.

Danny Coulombe (third-year arbitration eligible): Another veteran who found some of the best results of his career in a resurgence with the Twins, Coulombe didn't pitch much leverage but might factor in as a left-handed option out of the bullpen in 2022.

Ralph Garza Jr. (pre-arbitration): Garza arrived as a waiver-wire pickup without much fanfare, but the 27-year-old, who alternates pitching over-the-top and sidearm, posted a 3.26 ERA and could continue to factor in to lower- to moderate-leverage situations in the 2022 bullpen.