Breaking down Twins' four 40-man roster additions

November 15th, 2023

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The Twins’ latest roster moves brought one of their most dynamic top prospects to the cusp of the big league club, as the selection of outfielder Emmanuel Rodriguez, MLB Pipeline’s No. 48 overall prospect, headlined Minnesota’s 40-man roster additions ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. CT deadline to protect players from the Rule 5 Draft.

Minnesota also added infielder/outfielder Austin Martin, the No. 20 prospect in the organization, as part of the moves that brought its 40-man roster up to 38 players. Last week, the Twins added catcher Jair Camargo and infielder Yunior Severino to protect them from both the Rule 5 Draft and Minor League free agency.

Any unprotected eligible players can be selected by other clubs at the Rule 5 Draft, set to take place Dec. 6 on the final day of this offseason’s Winter Meetings in Nashville, Tenn. If a player is selected, he must remain on his new team’s active roster for the entire season or be offered back to his original club.

Most notable among the players left unprotected are outfielder DaShawn Keirsey Jr. and utility man Michael Helman, a pair of older Minor Leaguers coming off highly productive seasons with Triple-A St. Paul who could have pushed into depth for big league action, if needed. The Twins also did not protect Aaron Sabato, their first-round Draft selection from 2020 who has had a disappointing professional career.

Here’s what to know about the Twins’ new additions.

Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF

Why was he added?

Rodriguez is a consensus Top 100 prospect who had an expected breakout campaign in ‘22 halted by a knee sprain and had a slow start in ‘23 before he finished strong. He’s the type of toolsy player whose rare combination of raw power, plate discipline and up-the-middle athleticism would make him a building block piece for most organizations.

Even in a down season, Rodriguez still had an .863 OPS and a .400 on-base percentage with High-A Cedar Rapids, with 16 homers, 20 steals and 92 walks in 99 games.

Though Rodriguez is only 20 years old and remains far from the Majors, he would undoubtedly have been selected in the Rule 5 Draft for his immense potential. Ranked the No. 3 prospect in the organization, he has all the makings of a cornerstone player in the years to come, and he needed to be protected to keep his potential in the organization.

Can he help the Twins in 2024?

No. Rodriguez spent the ‘23 season in High-A, and he still has plenty of development to go. His ability to adjust to the high Minors will dictate his timeline -- but the tools are certainly there for him to be a special player, and the Twins will now get a good, long look at him as part of Major League Spring Training.

Austin Martin, INF/OF

Why was he added?

Once the headliner of the return in the trade that sent José Berríos to Toronto during the ‘21 season, Martin rebounded from a tough ‘22 in which he tried to add power to his swing with a productive ‘23. He got a late start due to a right elbow injury, but he finished strong in Triple-A with a .263/.386/.405 line, putting him in position to impact the Majors in ‘24.

Given Martin’s defensive versatility (he can play up the middle in the infield and can step into center field) and his contact-oriented hitting approach in which he has controlled the strike zone well at all levels of the Minors, he would almost certainly have been selected if left unprotected.

Can he help the Twins in 2024?

Yes, and he will be expected to do so, likely in a fairly significant role. It will depend on the Twins’ specific positional needs, but Martin’s uber-flexibility is exactly the kind of skill set Rocco Baldelli likes to carry on his roster, and the 24-year-old’s ability to provide athleticism and a right-handed bat in center field could prove particularly significant.

Given the uncertainty around Byron Buxton’s health and the departure of Michael A. Taylor in free agency, the Twins need options in center field. They could find one from outside the organization, as they did with Taylor last winter -- or, if they feel Martin is ready, he might factor in sooner rather than later.

Jair Camargo, C

Why was he added?

The Twins actually got through their entire ‘23 season using only two catchers -- Ryan Jeffers and Christian Vázquez -- but in the (fairly reasonable) event they don’t have that luxury again, Camargo is about as good as they can hope for in a third catching option.

He’s an organizational soldier who arrived with Kenta Maeda in the 2020 megadeal involving the Dodgers and Red Sox so he knows the pitchers, and he hit a career-high 21 homers with an .826 OPS for Triple-A St. Paul in ‘23. He’s about as ready to step in as he’ll ever be -- whether as a backup for the Twins or some other team.

Can he help the Twins in 2024?

Absolutely. This move is clearly anointing Camargo as the next man up behind Jeffers and Vázquez, and he looks ready to step in, if and when he's needed.

Yunior Severino, INF

Why was he added?

Severino, who is the club's No. 28-ranked prospect, actually went unprotected and unclaimed in the past, but this season is different, considering he just led all Minor Leaguers in homers (35) while hitting .272 with an .898 OPS across Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. He still strikes out a ton and his defensive future is murky, to say the least, but he clearly hits the ball with authority.

Can he help the Twins in 2024?

Yep. Severino's strikeout numbers are still a concern and he still needs some seasoning in Triple-A, but the infield versatility and switch-hitting power profile could serve the Twins well as a depth option.