As we head into the winter and beging to think about who the Twins can or cannot add, it will be good to know how many spots we have to work with. Or don't have to work with, as the case may be.
Notes, and we'll also see which minor leaguers could become get taken in the rule 5 draft if they aren't added to the 40-man roster.
- The 32 total does not include options for Jason Kubel and Nick Punto.
- The total doesn't include impending free agents.
- The total DOES include every arbitration-eligible player, so if somone is non-tendered then we can obviously take that into consideration.
Potential minor league free agents
Thanks to Seth Stohs, who kindly pointed out some not-so-subtle differences in how players can be lost off while in the minor leagues.
Minor league players become available for the rule 5 draft if they have spent four years in the minors without being added to the 40-man roster, if they were signed when they were 19 years of age or older. If they were 18 years of age or younger, they can become free agents after five years. As an example, Aaron Hicks was drafted in 2008 as an 18-year old. This means the Twins must add him to the 40-man roster after the 2012 season, or risk losing him in the rule 5 draft. Players who have been in the organization for six years without being added can become minor league free agents, like Brock Peterson. Again.
So, which minor leaguers are eligible for the rule 5 draft this season? Quite a few. And it's a testament to the strength of the Twins system that so many of those players could make an impact.
David Bromberg, RHP: Bromberg is a no-brainer--he'll be added. He's seen as one of the "next batch" of starting pitchers coming through the system, and along with guys like Kyle Gibson and Alex Wimmers are expected to contribute sooner rather than later. In 52 innings at Rochester this summer, Bromberg started nine games and pitched 52 innings following his promotion from double-A. His base runners and strikeout rates were actually better after his promotion, when he struck out 47 while allowing 47 hits and 13 walks. The nine homers allowed isn't pretty, but he still posted a very good 3.98 ERA.
Cole DeVries, RHP: DeVries was an undrafted free agent, but even so, he's just completed his fourth season after signing with the Twins at age 22. He's an interesting case, as his strikeout rates have gone through the roof since spending more of his time in the bullpen.
Ryan Mullins, LHP: He doesn't profile as an impact arm, but along with Jose Lugo might be worth the Twins trying to keep around because they're left handed. Are either Mullins or Lugo worth adding to the 40-man roster? Probably not.
Kyle Waldrop, RHP: Waldrop, like Bromberg, is as close to a sure bet to be added to the 40-man roster as you can get. He induces ground balls, and while he pitches to contact he does what the Twins love and avoids walks. At his best he only allows a hit per inning, which isn't bad. Waldrop could be a part of the bullpen next season.
Tyler Robertson, LHP: Robertson had a tough year, but he'd been a guy flying under the radar for a couple of seasons prior to 2010. In spite of his number this season, largely in double-A, he's the best southpaw starter that's closest to the Majors, and there's a legitimate shot he'll be added.
Erik Lis, 1B: After flashing some wicked power potential early in his career with the Twins, Lis has become a bit of an afterthought. He couldn't adjust to triple-A this season, hitting just .205/.256/.355 in his first stint at Rochester as a 26-year old. The Twins will need a place for Chris Parmelee in Rochester next season, so we might see Lis move on.
Brock Peterson, 1B*: Like Lis, Peterson is blocked by Justin Morneau. While Brock wasn't as impressive as he was in 2009, he still hit 19 home runs. He's had a chance to leave the organization before, and this season I think he takes that opportunity.
Brandon Roberts, OF: Unlike Brian Dinkleman or Dustin Martin, whose time might be short with a glut of outfielders on the rise, Roberts had a pretty good season in Rochester. In 38 games he raked, hitting .333/.386/.425 while playing a good center field. He turns 26 early next month, and no doubt the Twins will do what they can to keep him around. Roberts will likely compete with Ben Revere for the fourth outfielder spot next spring.
Mike McCardell, RHP: McCardell spent all of 2010 in double-A, where after a promising partial season there in '09, his numbers fell off the table. The strikeout rates went through the floor, while hits and home runs spiked in a big way. You can blame a lot of that on a terrible June and July, but there were a lot of people hoping for more out of McCardell. That promise might see him added to the 40-man roster.
Chris Parmelee, 1B: After starting the season in double-A, Parmelee was struggling so bad he was sent back to Fort Myers. He murdered pitching there, was brought back, and responded with an amazing July and a good August before a bad month of September. Parmelee turns 23 in February, and he's shown that he can kill the ball when he hits it and take a few walks along the way, so Parmelee is probably a lock to be added.
Juan Portes, UT*: Portes raked back in spring training, if you remember. At least he did right away. There's pop in his bat and he can play a couple different positions, but I think he'd probably make it back to the Twins if he isn't added to the 40-man.
Steve Singleton, IF: This will depend a lot on how the Twins plan to put together their Major League roster for next season. Singleton doesn't hit well and doesn't walk a lot, but he plays good defense and can play the middle infield. I doubt he gets added.
Rene Tosoni, OF: He was hurt this season, but along with Roberts I expect Tosoni to be added to the 40-man roster...or traded to someone who will add him. Tosoni is a .284/.381/.440 minor league hitter who isn't limited to one outfield position, and will be in his age-24 season in 2011.
Joe Benson, OF: More of a sure-shot to be added than Tosoni or Roberts, Benson isn't 23 until March, and is seen to have more upside than either of the other two. He's often described as a guy with tools. While he's displayed occasional contact-hitting skills, he's definitely an outfielder with power--23 home runs and a .527 slugging percentage in 2010.
* denotes player who will become a minor league free agent if not added to the 40-man roster
We've already said that the Twins will have some difficult decisions to make this winter, and here are a few more. How many players do the Twins add? They don't want to lose Bromberg, Benson, Waldrop or Robertson, surely. There are additional players who are eligible to be added, not to mention the possibility of the Twins adding a player who doesn't need to be added in order to avoid being lost.
Even with the recent news that the Twins will likely decline Punto's option, if Minnesota adds five players that brings their roster total to 37. If they pick up Kubel's option, that's 38. We've seen the Twins operate with just two spots open over a winter in the past, and they could viably do it again as long as they're especially selective about potential free agents. Non-tendering Condrey, which seems to be all but gauaranteed, and any other arbitration-eligible player would give them a little more room to maneuver.
Which of these players do you add? If you're Bill Smith, how much room do you want to leave yourself to make moves?