As Twins get ready to open spring training, a look at how roster might look come Opening Day
The first full squad workout is scheduled for Feb. 20, with game action beginning Feb. 25
The Minnesota Twins’ migration to southwest Florida has begun and in just a matter of days, the first wave of players — pitchers and catchers — are required to report to camp. Days later, the rest of the group will have joined them and on Feb. 20, the team will hold its first full squad workout.
While Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and company have shown that they’re not opposed to making late moves all the way through spring training, most of the offseason heavy work has now been completed. That being said, here’s a first roster projection for the 2023 season days before camp opens:
Five players: Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda
The Twins have six solid starting pitching options, but seem inclined to roll with a five-man rotation, which would seemingly leave Bailey Ober as the odd-man out. That’s if all six make it through spring training healthy. And with this group, that’s a big if.
Maeda, who arrived at TwinsFest last month after having a normal offseason with no restrictions, did not pitch last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in 2021. Mahle ended last season on the injured list with what was dubbed “right shoulder inflammation,” his third shoulder-related IL stint of the season. Gray also landed on the IL three separate times, though none for arm-related ailments. And Ober missed much of last season with a groin injury.
All that to say, the Twins have the makings of a solid rotation, but there are question marks. Beyond those six, Josh Winder, Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson, all of whom debuted last season, give the Twins additional depth.
Eight players: Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcala, Emilio Pagan, Jovani Moran, Trevor Megill
The Twins have not — to this point, at least — made any external additions to their bullpen. If they don’t choose to add in the coming days, they are left with a group that looks similar to how they ended last season.
One notable difference: The Twins should get back hard-throwing righty Jorge Alcala, who missed almost all of last season, requiring an arthroscopic debridement surgery on his throwing elbow.
This group could look a little different if the Twins decide to start the year with more of a true long-reliever, a role that Winder filled for parts of last season.
Two players: Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers
The Twins addressed one of their most glaring needs early in the offseason, signing Vazquez, who is well-regarded for his defense, to a three-year, $30 million deal. While Falvey has said the new backstop will have “primary duties,” expect to see plenty of both Vazquez and Jeffers behind the plate this season.
Five players: Carlos Correa, Jorge Polanco, Jose Miranda, Alex Kirilloff, Kyle Farmer
Retaining Correa after his drawn-out free agency saga was the highlight of the Twins’ offseason, but they made plenty of other moves around him to restructure their infield.
First, they shipped third baseman Gio Urshela to Anaheim, making way for Miranda to inherit the position full time. That same day, they acquired Farmer in a trade with the Reds.
With Correa back in the fold, Farmer will now serve in a utility role, shifting around the infield. While he primarily has been a shortstop, Farmer also has played first, second and third base at the major-league level. Nick Gordon, who also will see time in the outfield, is capable of filling a similar role.
And in their second big move of January, the Twins shipped Luis Arraez to Miami for starting pitcher Pablo Lopez, opening up first base. Kirilloff, who is coming off his second straight season-ending wrist surgery, should have plenty of opportunity there. Joey Gallo is among those who also could see playing time at first.
Six players: Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Joey Gallo, Michael A. Taylor, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach
While a potential trade of right fielder Max Kepler was rumored all winter, the Twins have not traded him, and he now appears poised to start the season in right alongside Buxton in center and Gallo in left.
The Twins signed Gallo, a Gold Glove winner, in December and traded for Michael A. Taylor, another Gold Glove winner, in January. Taylor becomes the Twins’ backup in center field for when Buxton has a day off or is serving as the team’s DH. Larnach can man both of the corner spots, while Gordon can play around the outfield and also slide back into the infield.
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