Heading into spring training, the smart money on Minnesota's bench would have included Josmil Pinto as the backup catcher, Jordan Schafer as the fourth outfielder, and Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez as backup infielders/utility players. That's not exactly how things have played out.
Two of the four bench spots are locked down by Escobar and Shane Robinson. The backup catcher and the 25th man spots, however, are still up for grabs. Let's talk about the catcher situation first.
Backup catcher: Josmil Pinto, Chris Herrmann, Eric Fryer
Pinto experienced a concussion and has only just returned to game action. It doesn't sound like he's considered likely to make the roster as a result, although he's obviously been cleared by doctors. I expect that the Twins will hold him back and let him get his legs back under him before they put him in a crouch behind hitters in a Major League game.
That leaves us with Herrmann and Fryer. Fryer has been touted as the superior receiver but is not on the 40-man roster, while Herrmann's defense as allegedly improved behind the plate and he can also technically be better than a rock in right or left field since he can catch a baseball. Herrmann does seem like he'll be the first past the post here.
25th man: Eduardo Nunez, Doug Bernier, Chris Herrmann
Nunez is obviously the favorite here, but I also don't buy that his $1.02 million dollar salary makes him safe. Granted, the Twins have gone safe elsewhere on the roster this spring - in the outfield and bullpen specifically - but Nunez doesn't hit and doesn't play any position well. In this case, the biggest factor working in his favor is his experience.
2015 is the third go-round for Bernier with the Twins. He's had token appearances for the Major League club the last two seasons, but has spent most of his time being a reliable player for the Red Wings. He's the only player still in the running who is guaranteed not to make the opening day roster.
Finally, we see Herrmann's name again. I like him here because if the Twins do decide to take Fryer as the backup catcher, it wouldn't be unsurprising to see them take Herrmann over Nunez either. He could backup the outfield corners while also providing Paul Molitor the luxury of a third catcher.
Positions marked 'x' are where that player is expected to be able to play, while 'z' notes where a player could stand in if necessary. Even though Nunez is marked as an outfielder on the official website, he was still primarily an infielder in 2014.
How these final two roster spots shake out will most likely come down to how Molitor thinks he'll manage his team. From these five players he'll need to make a trio of roster cuts, one of which is Bernier. Looking at the chart below, how would you construct the Twins bench if it were up to you?