During yesterday's press conference announcing the arrival of Byung Ho Park, two things came to my mind. First, the Twins gave Park number 52 - Brian Duensing's number. Earlier this week we heard from Mike Berardino that the Twins hadn't asked permission of Duensing to hand out his number. If that doesn't send a message that the door is closed, nothing will. Second, the Twins might be done working on their offense.
Ryan said he plans to keep Plouffe. ``We had trouble scoring runs last year. We're going to go with what we've got.''— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) December 2, 2015
Ryan: ``We're going to move Sano to the outfield.''— LaVelle E. Neal III (@LaVelleNeal) December 2, 2015
The possibility of trading Trevor Plouffe has been at the forefront of our minds since before the season ended. We knew that the Twins would have a decision to make regarding third base. If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: the Twins are placing a premium on offense.
Trading Aaron Hicks for a catcher. Grabbing the best international hitter on the market. Refusing to trade your pretty good starting third baseman. Tendering all six arbitration-eligible players a contract, as expected.
#MNTwins officially tendered contracts to all six of their arbitration eligibles.— Mike Berardino (@MikeBerardino) December 3, 2015
Holes have been addressed, and potential added. If you had to pick out your 13 position players for the 2016 Minnesota Twins, you could do so right now - December 3 - with quite a bit of certainty.
C - Kurt Suzuki
1B - Joe Mauer
2B - Brian Dozier
3B - Trevor Plouffe
SS - Eduardo Escobar
LF - Eddie Rosario
CF - Byron Buxton
RF - Miguel Sano
DH - Byung Ho Park
Bench: John Ryan Murphy
Bench: Danny Santana
Bench: Eduardo Nunez
Bench: Joe Benson?
Perhaps there's still an opportunity for Minnesota to find a new fourth outfielder, but it could very realistically end up being Benson. But you know what's funny about this: the versatility of the first 12 men on this list would allow the Twins to function with a three-man bench. Escobar can play all three infield positions on the left side. Rosario can play all three outfield spots. Sano can play third. Park can play first. Santana can play center. Nunez can play almost anywhere.
Back to the point at hand, if someone had said that by December 3 the Twins would basically be done adding to their offense and that we'd all be relatively happy with the results, it would have been hard to believe. Not only has Terry Ryan put together a decent collection of offensive talent, but he's done it very, very quickly and with minimal risk.
Keeping Trevor Plouffe in the fold is at the center of that blueprint. While he may not be the juggernaut of a bat that a couple of other players will be - or have been - he's still an above average hitter. If Park takes a while to get going, Plouffe can be placed in the middle of the batting order. If Park takes off at any point, being able to hit Plouffe fifth, sixth, or even seventh illustrates how deep the lineup is when he's around.
It all requires the Twins to try Miguel Sano in right field. An adjustment it will be, but even when Sano struggles in the field he's still generating offense an order of magnitude higher than the outfielders who stumbled around the corners in recent years: Delmon Young, Josh Willingham, Jason Kubel, Chris Parmelee, Oswaldo Arcia. Whatever Sano gives up in terms of range, he'll more than make up for with his bat.
Maybe it's a little awkward, and it definitely forces decisions on guys like Kennys Vargas and Oswaldo Arcia, but Minnesota's offense looks like the best group of talent the Twins have had since 2010. There are still choices to be made in the starting rotation and the bullpen still needs a bit of work, but right now this team is looking better than it did heading into 2015. And that's the whole point.