In six days, baseball teams around the league have to complete adds to their roster to protect players from December's Rule 5 draft. With 36 players currently on the 40-man roster, the Twins have four spots with which to work. Do we know who the Twins will be adding, and can we tell how many roster spots will still be available for further moves?
The two most talented players with the most upside who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this season are infielder Jorge Polanco and outfielder Max Kepler. While neither player is ready for the Majors and, in reality, are more than a year from even potentially breaking the squad, their talent level is such that a desperate team might be willing to take a chance. And with so few "necessary" adds this season, there's no reason for the Twins to risk losing either player.
Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press also believes Kepler and Polanco will be added. In his article highlighting the performance of A.J. Achter in the Arizona Fall League, in which he's postured Achter as a pitcher worthy of hanging onto, Berardino also brings up other players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft this season: Alex Wimmers, Dakota Watts, Matt Hauser, Logan Darnell, Pat Dean, Evan Bigley, Danny Ortiz, Mike Krasnicka, Kennys Vargas, Dan Rohlfing, and Deibinson Romero.
We mentioned Achter and a number of those players, and others, back in September when we first reviewed who would be first-time eligible for the Rule 5 draft this winter. We listed Darnell and Achter as "probable" adds, along side Polanco and Kepler. Dean and Vargas were qualified as "possible" adds. Nobody else seemed likely to merit a spot more than those players, but clearly there's not enough room for those few. It's also worth noting that Rohlfing has been signed to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training, which makes it pretty plain where Minnesota sees him in their player hierarchy.
Alternatively, the Twins have the option of making additional room on the 40-man roster. With four catchers still available, which is a number sure to grow again should the Twins sign a guy like A.J. Pierzynski, Jarrod Saltalamacchia, or one of the remaining Molina brothers, Eric Fryer would seem to be expendable. Similarly, right-hander B.J. Hermsen didn't have a good season in 2013 and removing him could allow a more promising player to be protected from the Rule 5.
There's still more to consider here, of course. The Twins are bound to bring in a free agent beyond the warm body to play catcher; we discussed yesterday how Chris Colabello and Chris Parmelee seem to be redundant now that Joe Mauer has been moved to first base; there's no telling how future moves will affect players already on the roster whom we'd normally consider safe.
For now, I'll ask you: after Polanco and Kepler, which player is most likely to be added to the 40-man roster?
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