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Twins players out of options in 2016

These players must either making the Opening Day roster, or risk being lost on waivers.

Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

There are players every year who are out of options, and force their ballclub to make harder decisions as a result. In 2014 the Twins had three starters out of options who were vying for one starter's spot and perhaps one spot in the bullpen. This past spring, Eduardo Escobar and Trevor Plouffe were guarantees to make the roster but Jordan Schafer and Eduardo Nunez didn't seem quite so locked in. For what it's worth, all three pitchers from 2014 are out of the organization, while only Schafer has departed Minnesota from that 2015 crew.

These are the players who are out of options heading into the 2016 season. Each of these guys will need to make the roster on Opening Day, or risk being lost on waivers.

  • Arbitration eligibility dates are estimates based off of service time.
  • If you note that a chance should be made in arbitration eligibility or if you note that a player should be added to this list, let me know in the comments and I'll update the list.

Oswaldo Arcia
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2017

Arcia spent fewer than ten days in the minor leagues in 2014, which granted him a fourth option. That could have been his saving grace as far as his tenure in Minnesota goes, because if he had been stuck with the traditional three options and then had the April he had for the Twins, there would have been two unsavory options: the Twins could have tried to sneak him through waivers, which wouldn't have happened because somebody would have snapped him up in an instant, or the Twins would have been forced to ride with him and potentially stash him on the bench - which may have forced Minnesota into selling low in a trade.

The Twins could still find themselves in that situation come spring training. With a minor league history like his, one has to hope that Arcia can find some of the magic that helped him be such a threat in 2014 at age 23. If Minnesota can't find room in their outfield they'll attempt to trade him before they lose him for nothing on waivers, but the situation could very well mean Arcia has an inside track on a roster spot next April.

Chris Herrmann
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2017

Herrmann is a different situation than Arcia. He'll have a decent crack at the Opening Day roster if the Twins don't find another catcher to pair with Kurt Suzuki (although it seems unlikely), and even if he doesn't make the team he's the type of player who would probably clear waivers. He's never hit enough for another club to take notice, and he's not regarded as a special signal caller or pitch framer behind the plate; none of that is to denigrate what Herrmann is capable of, as he's a competent backup. Perhaps another team looking for an experienced backup could take a flyer, but the odds would be low.

Aaron Hicks
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2017

Hicks will make the Opening Day roster, either as the starting right fielder (if Torii Hunter retires) or as the starting center fielder (if Torii Hunter doesn't retire). There are other mitigating factors there, but if we get down to brass tacks that's a good enough starting point: if he's not traded, he's in the outfield somewhere.

Lester Oliveros
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2019

By not making a single appearance with the Twins in 2015, Oliveros' big payday moves back another year. In the mean time he's still out of options, and that means it's sink or swim for the big right-hander come spring training. There's a chance that he could leave the organization, but Minnesota's bullpen is in need of help and, specifically, that help needs to come from pitchers who can miss bats. Oliveros struck out 46 in 35.2 innings this year before hitting the disabled list in late June.

Josmil Pinto
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2019

Pinto, like Oliveros, didn't earn a single day of service time in 2015 and it pushes his arbitration date back by a full year. He's a prime trade candidate if only because he seems like a player without a defined position and he doesn't hit well enough to be a designated hitter. It's an unfortunate situation considering how his trajectory as a prospect looked just two years ago, but defensive issues and recovering from a concussion wiped out any chance he had of logging some real progression this season. There's a chance the Twins hold onto him and try to pass him through waivers in spring training, since they may not feel like they'd be losing out too much if someone decided to place a claim.

Danny Santana
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2017

It looks like Santana did get enough service time to keep his arbitration clock in place, but he poses a question of preference for the Minnesota Twins. Minnesota could tender Eduardo Nunez and not worry about what happens to Santana, whether he gets claimed on waivers or not, or the Twins could non-tender Nunez and more or less hand the backup infield spot to Santana. While he's always profiled as a backup shortstop or a utility infielder, his experience in the center field could lend him enough flexibility to give him a foot forward in the competition for a precious roster spot.

With only 707 Major League plate appearances under his belt it's most likely the Twins hang onto him and let things play out come spring training. Regardless, it's time for Santana to show his best side. There are a couple of middle infielders coming through the system who will be ready to contribute in 2016.

Aaron Thompson
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2018

Thompson is left-handed, which works in his favor considering both Neal Cotts and Brian Duensing are free agents and Ryan O'Rourke wasn't particularly effective in relief. But on the other hand, if the Twins go into the 2016 season with Thompson as a left-handed arm out of their bullpen then the front office has failed in its mission to upgrade one of the club's biggest weaknesses in 2015. Still, Thompson could find his way through waivers.

Michael Tonkin
Contract Status: Eligible for arbitration in 2019

In spite of owning some pretty good minor league numbers (2.65 ERA at Triple-A with 128 strikeouts in 118.2 innings), the Twins have never given Tonkin any real time to find his feet in the Major Leagues. Now he's out of options and they won't have a choice. Minnesota has a history of not giving extended chances to relievers who profile well in the minors (Anthony Slama, Rob Delaney), but those pitchers flame out regularly anyway, so the question is: does Tonkin actually have something and Minnesota is just slow in responding, or is Tonkin another flashy minor league reliever without Major League stuff? I'd be surprised if the Twins don't give Tonkin a roster spot out of spring training in order to find out. Most teams in baseball would take a flyer on him if he hit waivers.