As always, the wheels of time and life keep turning, and players leave our favorite teams. To replace them, new players come on board. While some of the signings the Twins made this offseason were fairly high-profile, other moves flew below the radar. Lets round up all the new guys on the Twins roster, and see what has changed.
Most recently with the Yankees, Happ is a well-traveled veteran southpaw, really a classic back-of-the-rotation guy. The Twins are lining him up as their fifth starter, and age is his biggest concern. Still, we’ve seen the age-less wonder thing work out recently with Nelson Cruz and Rich Hill. Happ pronounces his first name as “Jay” despite using initials. Last season, he notched two wins and two losses, with a 3.47 ERA in 49 innings. Otherwise he has generally been good for 150, and often closer to 200 innings per season, and his career numbers are very reasonable.
Shoemaker is now written as the Twins’ fourth starter, although he has rarely made it through a season uninjured, and therefore will likely see Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, or others take his turn in the rotation at points. After a half-decade with the Angels, he spent the last two years in Toronto, pitching exactly 28 2⁄3 innings in each of 2019 and 2020. The former year was the more successful, with his ERA a lowly 1.57 and three wins to no losses. The latter would still be a reasonable outcome though, as his 2020 ERA was 4.71. The Twins are banking on health here, which has been elusive.
Another former Angel, Robles and Shoemaker were teammates for part of 2018, after Robles was acquired from the Mets. As a very decent work-horse reliever, Robles put up between 50 and 80 innings most years, and looked good. He would have demanded a much larger deal, in all likelyhood, if not for a poor 2020 showing. The Twins clearly saw something to work with, however, and inked him to a big-league deal. He will likely start the season in medium-to-high leverage roles, and serve as the second or third right hander behind Alex Colome and possibly Tyler Duffey
Colome was the big prize in the Twins bullpen this winter, as the former White Sox closer was cast loose in favor of a big Liam Hendricks contract that totally won’t blow up in Rick Hahn’s face. This was a bit of a surprise, as Colome was working off of absolutely sparking 2020 numbers such as a 0.81 ERA. While that number is unsustainable, his entire history proves he is a high end arm, and will likely share the closer/highest leverage roles with Taylor Rogers.
Simba, as the league’s best defensive shortstop is known, provides the Twins with an upgrade over Jorge Polanco, who slides to second base. Polanco is likely an upgrade over incumbent Luis Arraez, who is also still around, and upgrades the utility role from a combo of Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez. Back to Simmons, he brings a below-average yet passable bat, to pair with his fantastic glovework. Given Randy Dobnak’s proclivity for wormburners, hopefully he already bought Simmons a nice dinner—Simmons is going to earn it. Improving the defense up the middle is well worth the tradeoff on offense, especially with the big boppers the Twins stack into their line up. While not a slugger, Simmons will get on base at a reasonable clip as well. He’ll likely sit near the bottom of the lineup, but will have opportunities to set the table so that the guys at the top can feast.
Garlick might have been the surprise of the spring, beating out highly-regarded prospects Alex Kirilloff and Brent Rooker for the final spot in the Twins outfield, despite being a waiver claim just a few months ago. Garlick made his debut with the Dodgers in 2019, and had a second cup of coffee, in Philedelphia, in 2020. Now he gets a chance, much like Jake Cave did a couple years ago, to prove that he belongs in the bigs to stay. Although his long-term future is likely not in Minnesota, I hope he makes the most of the opportunity. He sure did this spring, hitting .300/.311/.700 in the exhibition season. The Twins will most likely use him as part of a three-way platoon situation with Jake Cave and occasionally Luis Arraez in left, although days off early in the season for the slumping Max Kepler and injury-prone Byron Buxton will give all three plenty of playing time.