Aside from the battle for the fifth starter's spot and the resulting impact on Minnesota's bullpen depth, the Twins' current roster situation looks largely settled as they prepare for Spring Training. With that said, the free-agent market still has many options available, and the Twins are prepared for injuries to
Aside from the battle for the fifth starter's spot and the resulting impact on Minnesota's bullpen depth, the Twins' current roster situation looks largely settled as they prepare for Spring Training. With that said, the free-agent market still has many options available, and the Twins are prepared for injuries to quickly change the circumstances. As things stand now, here's a look at the Twins' projected 25-man roster.
Catcher (2):Jason Castro, Mitch Garver
Castro will return as the starting catcher after missing most of 2018 following right knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, and the Twins are looking to ease him into action during Spring Training. In Castro's absence last season, Garver showed promise with his bat while continuing to work on his defense.
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First base (2): C.J. Cron, Tyler Austin
The Twins acquired Cron to be their starter at first base, but Austin is out of Minor League options, and if the Twins want to stash his controllable power bat for the future, they'll likely have to keep him on the Major League roster. Austin played more outfield than first base in the Minor Leagues.
Second base (1): Jonathan Schoop
Schoop will replace Brian Dozier, who was Minnesota's Opening Day starter at second base for the last six seasons. The club's No. 4 prospect per MLB Pipeline, Nick Gordon, could also see action later in the year.
Third base (1): Miguel Sanó
The Twins have spent a lot of time this offseason working with Sano on his conditioning to make sure that the 25-year-old third baseman is in good physical condition entering camp. A bounce-back year from the slugger would go a long way towards a playoff push.
Shortstop (1): Jorge Polanco
Polanco served an 80-game suspension to open last season, but he posted some of the best offensive numbers of his career in a shortened campaign. He could be the best fit on the roster to hit leadoff this season.
Outfield (4): Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave
Barring injuries, the defensively gifted Rosario-Buxton-Kepler outfield should return for the third straight season, with Buxton having added 21 pounds in a frustration-fueled offseason. Though Zack Granite is on the 40-man roster and Michael Reed is out of options, Cave should be the front-runner for the fourth outfield spot after hitting 13 homers in 91 games last season.
Designated hitter (1): Nelson Cruz
The Twins haven't completely ruled out using Cruz sparingly in the outfield, but they signed the 38-year-old slugger primarily to give them the stability at designated hitter that the team has lacked for several years.
Utility (1): Ehire Adrianza
Adrianza has been a capable hitter in a utility role for the last two seasons and can play three infield positions, or even the outfield in a pinch. Ronald Torreyes, who was acquired this offseason, could also see time as a utility-man as the season wears on.
Starting pitchers (5): José Berríos, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Martin Pérez
Last season, Berrios continued to emerge as an ace, Gibson turned in career-best numbers, Odorizzi was consistent and healthy, and Pineda nearly returned to the mound following Tommy John surgery before a knee issue kept him out of action. Those four rotation spots are secure. Perez was signed as a more experienced competitor for the open fifth spot while the young, in-house arms continue to acclimate to the Major Leagues.
Relief pitchers (7): Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Blake Parker, Trevor Hildenberger, Addison Reed, Fernando Romero, Adalberto Mejía
The competition for the closer's role is wide open. Rogers emerged as one of the best relievers in the Major Leagues in last season's second half, and May showed shutdown potential out of the 'pen in his return from Tommy John surgery. Hildenberger's and Reed's relief spots are secure, and the newly acquired Parker is also expected to pitch late in the game. Romero and Mejia are competing for the fifth rotation spot, but both could ultimately be destined for the bullpen, as the Twins have had long discussions about moving Romero and his hard fastball to a relief role, and Mejia pitched effectively in limited action last year but is out of options. Gabriel Moya should also be involved throughout the season.
Even if the roster stays healthy, the pitching staff in particular could be in flux throughout the season, especially early on, when the schedule doesn't necessitate a fifth starter through the first five series of the year. The front office and manager Rocco Baldelli have been thinking about potential creative bullpen usage, and the young starting candidates -- Romero, Mejia, Kohl Stewart, Stephen Gonsalves and Zack Littell -- could also serve in bullpen roles to get them Major League experience.
Do-Hyoung Park covers the Twins for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark and on Instagram at dohyoung.park.