Anthony Swarzak scours the horizon in search of Bigfoot. - Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Trevor Plouffe, Anthony Swarzak, Josh Roenicke and Tim Wood are all out of Minor League options and would need to clear waivers in order to be sent to Triple-A.
At the end of Spring Training, it's not uncommon to see players who have no Minor League options remaining break camp with a team for fear of losing said player on waivers should they attempt to option him to Triple-A. It's also not uncommon to see these players traded or claimed by other teams. Most are fringe roster candidates for a reason.
In Plouffe's case, it's basically unthinkable that he'd be anywhere but the Twins' 25-man roster to open the season (barring an injury, of course). Everyone expects him to be the Opening Day third baseman and get a lengthy opportunity to run with that job. His power would have almost any MLB team interested.
The other three, however, aren't necessarily as secure. Swarzak, admittedly, seems like a very good bet to make the team, despite not having done much to earn that honor (5.03 ERA, 4.70 FIP, 5.8 K/9, 2.8 BB/9 in 257.2 Major League innings). He once ranked as Baseball America's No. 100 prospect, but since that time he's essentially fallen to a replacement-level pitcher. I hope he figures it out because the Twins need pitching and I love anyone who's an avid Sasquatch hunter. However, I don't think the Twins should be married to the idea of Swarzak as a definite member of the staff.
Roenicke was once a fairly well-regarded prospect in his own right. He's been listed among the Top 10 prospects for both the Reds and Blue Jays throughout his Minor League career and was a part of Toronto's haul for Scott Rolen back in 2009. He was once touted as a potential closer with a fastball that sat 94-95 mph and could touch 99 mph at times. His heater averaged a career-worst 92.3 mph last season though, and the control issues that were seen as his biggest roadblock in his prospect days reared their ugly head. I like the idea of Roenicke as a late-inning arm for the team, but if he can't throw strikes this Spring, he should find his way to waivers. However, Roenicke has assistant GM Wayne Krivsky's name all over him. Krivsky was the Reds GM when drafted and signed Roenicke, and he was gone by the time they traded Roenicke was traded to Toronto. Krivsky could push to keep him around, and hey, it worked out with Jared Burton. On a trivial note, Josh is also the nephew of Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke.
Wood was voted as the top reliever in the International League last season by Baseball America, but he's 30 years old and has never had all that high of a ceiling. He signed with the Marlins as a 44th-round selection in 2002. While he throws reasonably hard (93.2 mph career average) he's worked up in the zone too much versus right-handers and hasn't been able to throw strikes to lefties in his brief MLB tenure. Wood is a perfectly reasonable guy to take a flier on following a 2012 season in which he had a 2.19 ERA, 8.6 K/9 and 3.0 BB/9 in 70 Triple-A innings, but his track record suggests that he could be a waiver casualty if he regresses to his normal self in the coming weeks.
Each player on this list strikes me as someone who could potentially be claimed if he's exposed to waivers at the end of Spring Training. With few locks in the bullpen, the Twins could theoretically take all three north at the end of March, but that seems to be an unlikely outcome. Which combination would TwinkieTowners most like to see on this year's Opening Day roster? Speak your mind in the attached poll and in the comments. (Note: I'm not including Plouffe in any option because I can't even fathom a non-injury scenario in which he's not on the Opening Day roster)
Steve Adams writes for MLBTradeRumors.com, RotoAuthority.com and MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter: @Adams_Steve
Which combination of the three out-of-options relievers do you want to see crack the roster?
Blegh. None of them. (49 votes)
Keep Swarzak around. I don't trust the new guys, and he might find Bigfoot. (39 votes)
Roenicke, but not Swarzak or Wood. Something something former prospect. (23 votes)
Just Wood, maybe he turned a corner in '12. Sorry Roenicke and Swarzak. (13 votes)
Swarzak and Roenicke. Seeya Wood. (37 votes)
Swarzak and Wood. The ROCKIES cut Roenicke, after all. (29 votes)
Roenicke and Wood. I'm done with Swarzak. (82 votes)
Bring 'em all. They're three of the best options the Twins have. (32 votes)
304 total votes