Twins Full Offseason Roster Update

As it stands, the Twins have 46 players on their 40 man roster; however, the following 7 players are all due to become free agents this offseason. Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Dallas Keuchel, Kenta Maeda, Emilio Pagan, Michael A. Taylor, Donovan Solano and Joey Gallo. That still puts the Twins at 39 guys as the 60 day IL disappears. Still some of the team members are going to be the odd ones out.

Impending Free Agents

Sonny Gray: I’d be awfully surprised to see the Twins win the bidding war to keep Gray. He’s earned a shot at free agency and I see no way he doesn’t get a 4yr $100MM-ish contract as he enters his age 34 season. He did everything the Twins could have asked for, and now he’s going to get paid to wear a different logo after he declines the Twins’ QO.

Tyler Mahle: Mahle is a dark horse offer candidate for a Michael Pineda type deal. A 2 year $8MM/yr type of situation. Mahle will likely have a similar time table as Chris Paddack had with the possibility of rejoining a team late next year and providing some stability for a 2025 rotation.

Dallas Keuchel: He’s earning another MiLB contract if he wants to keep pitching. Keuchel had some surprisingly effective outings, but cloud cover or wind ran the risk of blowing the magician’s tricks away in explosive fashion. His 5.97 ERA and 4.56 FIP entering his age 36 season aren’t going to peak much interest, though he was a tick more effective when used like a starter, and I could see a team out there looking for a cheap innings eater taking a sub $5.0MM 1 year MLB contract shot on him. Just not the Twins.

Kenta Maeda: I believe Falvey is on the record as having interest in a short term contract extension for Maeda. Entering his age 34 season with the injury history Maeda has will keep away any long term suitors, but I think Maeda can squeeze out a 2-3 year deal in the market, depending on AAV. If the Twins want to keep Varland in the bullpen, Maeda’s a high likelihood extension candidate at say 3 years $36MM.

Emilio Pagan: Pagan put it together in his final year before free agency. With a sparkly 2.99 ERA to go with the 3.27 FIP, despite the scary 4.57 xFIP from the miniscule 5.3% HR/FB rate, Pagan managed to avoid the meltdowns which plagued him and Twins fans alike for years as Baldelli seriously scaled back his high leverage situations. In fact, Pagan managed to even provide a positive WPA at 0.94 for the year. That said, his clutch rating was right where fans expect, a dreadful -0.57. Falvey seems obsessed with him. I feel like he could be back, but Falvey also hates spending on relief pitching sooooo it’s a dichotomy. Who knows?

Michael A. Taylor: He is who he is. League average or worse bat with a lot of pop and a lot of strikeouts with excellent defense in CF. He’s a 2 WAR a season player entering his age 33 season. The age will prevent teams from giving him a long deal, but Taylor is undoubtedly looking to capitalize on his best offensive season since 2017. This’ll be his last CF contract and quite possibly his last MLB contract. The Twins need to shed some payroll and I think Taylor’s 2-3 year $10MM AAV contract extension hopes will be on the chopping block. The Twins will once again choose to believe in Buxton and Celestino passed through waivers giving Minnesota a cheap emergency backup plan not named Castro or Lewis.

Donovan Solano: Entering his age 36 season, journeyman Solano is in the very twilight of his career, but his resurgent bat will get him another 1 year deal somewhere with a nice raise to probably $6MM, I’d guess. Too rich for the Twins depth play, I’d say.

Active Non-tender Candidates

Andrew Stevenson: Signed to a MiLB contract in March, Stevenson cracked the 26 man roster in September as a pinch runner and defensive replacement. As a MiLB depth guy, Stevenson has gotten a few chances in the big show, but his bat doesn’t really play. He’s a bit of a left handed Billy Hamilton with a touch less speed and a little less of a hit tool. I can’t imagine the Twins tendering the Arbitration eligible speedster a contract.

Jordan Luplow: Luplow will be entering his 3rd year of Arbitration after scoring a $1.4MM 1 year deal with the Braves this past offseason. He came to the Twins after the Braves DFA’d the outfielder and the Twins primarily deployed him as a platoon option against left handed pitching. Luplow will probably score another MLB contract due to his plus corner defense, cheap price tag and ability to hit lefties in a platoon scenario. It just won’t likely be with the Twins.

Ronny Henriquez: After a pretty brutal campaign in AAA, it’s hard to see the Twins sticking with Henriquez despite him having one more option year left. The 5.68 ERA and 5.27 FIP came along with tons of walks and not many strikeouts. The 2022 waiver wire pickup from Texas is probably not even viewed as roster filler at this point.

Inactive Non-tender Candidates

Nick Gordon: Gordon’s had to fight tooth and nail for every opportunity in Falvey’s system. Cast aside seemingly with every opportunity, Gordon proved to be an unexpected spark plug for the Twins in 2022, forcing his way into daily playing time and earning the starting shortstop position out of the gate in 2023 due to Polanco’s injury absence. Unfortunately, he’s out of options, and he struggled at the plate this past season. The advanced metrics suggest Gordon was very unlucky, but his attempts to alter his swing for more power just showed a lot of warning track power. The quality of contact was definitely down from 2022, and I think the Twins are going to close the chapter on Gordon. If the Twins are able to bring Gordon back on a MiLB deal, I expect they will, but he might have a more sure fire path to the big show with another team.

Jose De Leon: Zero doubter non-tender as Leon will not pitch next year as he underwent TJ in late July. De Leon was an offseason MiLB contract recipient who earned another shot at the big show in his age 30 season after injuries forced the Twins’ hand.

Jovani Moran: Moran is the Twins very own home grown Emilio Pagan. Often unable to throw consistent strikes, Moran was prone to big meltdowns in between big strikeout numbers and accolades being showered on his "stuff." Moran finished the season on the 60-day IL with a forearm strain, and the Twins were sure it wasn’t a minor issue in August. Not much is known in public about the severity of whatever the strain is related to. If he’s not headed for surgery, I think the Twins keep Moran especially since he’s got an option left.

Oliver Ortega: The January waiver claim from the Dodgers impressed in AAA, but wasn’t able to get more disciplined MLB hitters to consistently swing at his offerings out of the zone. A 4.30 ERA and 4.76 FIP came along with his short 10 game stint in the big show before his back went out in late August, ending his season with a ride on the 60 day IL. It’s highly likely the Twins try to pass him through waivers having failed to stick at the MLB level the past 3 years, and now entering his age 27 season.

Team Options

Max Kepler: With a $10MM option and a $1MM buyout, picking up Kepler’s option is a no-brainer for the Twins. Kepler has steadily provided 2.0-3.0 WAR production with plus corner outfield defense and an average-ish to above average bat for the past few years. That’s the kind of production teams love to get from the meat of their position player rosters. Kepler will be entering his age 31 season so he should still have a few years left before the wheels fall off, but he’s lost a step, impacting his defensive value. To make up for it, his scorching hot 2nd half resulted in a full year line of .260/.332/.484 OPS .816 wRC+ 124. That’s a career high AVG despite a career high, yet totally reasonable .288 BABIP. The changes to the shift clearly helped him. Byron Buxton’s health plays into whether or not the Twins trade Kepler after picking up the option, though. Wallner is probably penciled into the Twins’ future plans for years to come, but apart from that, the Twins have limited other options as Larnach is clearly not viewed as a prospect anymore. Austin Martin or Royce Lewis could be converted to outfielder duties, but that feels like a stretch. I don’t see the Twins trusting Gordon well enough to rely on him or believing in Castro’s career year.

Jorge Polanco: With two club options remaining on Polanco for $10.5MM and $12.0MM over the next two years and a $1MM buyout, Polanco is a bit of a question mark. The oft injured 2B does have some defensive versatility and he’s good for a wRC+ 120 performance while playing barely adequate defense by the standards of most metrics. bWAR is much more favorable on his defense and thus his WAR production. fWAR 4.2, 1.8, 1.5 with bWAR at 4.9, 2.8, 2.0 in limited plate appearances over the past 3 seasons. The Twins have no need for Polanco at this point with a glut of existing and upcoming players who could handle the keystone, but they’ll no doubt be testing the waters of the trade market to see whether or not it’s worth picking up the option to trade him. I see no reasonable way Polanco appears in a Twins uniform in 2024. Lewis, Miranda, Julien, Castro, Lee, Martin and Farmer are all competing for roster spots in the non-1B infield category, assuming the Twins also walk from Gordon. Polanco missed the last 2 games of the year with a balky ankle, which will raise some eyebrows given his double-surgery history on that joint, and the knee tendonitis which kept him out for most of the season. That said, the affordable 1 year contract with the upside of a 3 WAR player will likely be enough to entice a trade partner.

40 Man Rule 5 Eligible MiLB Additions

Emmanuel Rodriguez: Rule 5 eligible. Protection is a no-brainer for the 3rd ranked prospect in MLB’s list.

Austin Martin: A nice bounce-back season at the plate, Martin held his own at AAA .263/.386/.405 OPS .791 wRC+ 106. There’s no way the Twins can expose Martin as he’d be gone in an instant and he has the potential to grow into an every day player due to the on base skills.

Anthony Prato: The Twins pushed him into AAA in a sink or swim move after a rough start to the season in AA. At age 25, Prato responded with a .302/.452/.539 OPS .981 wRC+ 153 campaign in 299 plate appearances at AAA. It was fueled by a .387 BABIP, but that BABIP itself came with a 30% line drive rate. If anybody his hitting 30% line drives, they’re going to crush the BABIP norms. Prato has played 2B and 3B for the St. Paul Saints this year, but he’s got quite a few innings in left field in 2022 and earlier where his range factors look great. Prato looks to be swiping about 20+ bases a year as well. He’s not well known so there’s a chance he’d sneak through, but he’s definitely the type of guy you’d roll the dice on with a rule 5 pick.

Trade Candidates

Alex Kirilloff: While it’s almost certain no team would jump at the opportunity to scoop up left handed/throwing 25 year old before he’s recovered from right shoulder surgery, I do think the Twins would be willing to part with the once vaunted prospect for a pretty reasonable price. Trying to find the young hitter a place on the roster is a toughie as he’s not a great defender in the outfielder and his bat hasn’t materialized into the power threat the Twins were hoping it would to justify starting at 1B. I do think the Twins might trust Kirilloff to start in left field, moving Matt Wallner to right if they get a good bite on Kepler and Kirilloff seems to recover well considering Castro and Celestino could cover an injury.

Jose Miranda: He’s fallen far, far from his impressive 2022 rookie campaign where he was running as a dark horse in the RoY race. Miranda’s shoulder was probably a significant issue for him all season and he finally shut it all down for an undisclosed surgery in September. I don’t think the Twins would be willing to sell this low on him. I could see him winning the 1B job out of the gate next year if the Twins trade or move Kirilloff to the outfield or if Falvey doesn’t find a slugger to fill the role in free agency.

Trevor Larnach: Larnach seems like he could be an extra piece of a trade like Rooker was packaged in the Paddack/Pagan deal. It’s clear the Twins don’t view Larnach as a guy who will be starting in the outfield due to the lack of contact at the plate. While he has excellent instincts and he’s picked up a step running since his rookie campaign, he’s just not the kind of guy you rely on for every day performance.

Kyle Farmer: I don’t see the Twins non-tendering Farmer. He’s absolutely going to be wanted by somebody in MLB for his cheap salary and quality season for us this past season. Farmer provided a league average bat and defensive versatility, plus he has the ability to play catcher. .253/.314/.405 OPS .719 wRC+ 99 is respectable enough to grab a starting role for a 2 WAR starting middle infielder who is projected to cost just $6.6MM. Keep in mind, Polanco’s option is $10MM for similar production…

My predictions would result in:

Maeda extension, other free agents walk.

All Active Non-tenders walk.

All inactive Non-tenders except Moran walk.

Kepler retained.

Polanco traded, Farmer traded.

Rodriguez, Martin, Prado added.

Final tally 40 man roster down to 35 so space to add.

If you're interested in some other Rule 5 eligible guys I wouldn't personally add to the 40 man, this is a more exhaustive list.

Other (AAA) Rule 5 Eligibles

Jair Camargo: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a24 - Catcher acquired in Maeda trade. Adequate catching, league average AAA bat.

Chris Williams: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA A27 - catcher/1B/DH, 8th round draft 2018. Solid 1B defense, lacking at catching, a bit better than league average AAA bat.

Yunior Severino: MLB 28th. Fangraphs 29th. AAA a24 - 3rd baseman, forfeit from Atlanta cheating scandal in 2018. Trusted glove at the hot corner, adequate bat, but tons of strikeouts to go with mediocre on base skills and good power. If left exposed, he could be selected thanks to his league average .832 OPS and defense, but the 37% K rate in AAA is a harbinger of doom. He feels a lot like a less capable Jermaine Palacios to me and he’s had 7 years of professional experience to reach "solid AAA caliber."

Andrew Bechtold: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a28 – 1B/3B, emergency catcher, 5th round 2017. Primarily a 3B, he’s probably MiLB roster filler. Adequate defense, passable AAA bat.

DaShawn Keirsey, Jr: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a27 – CF, 4th round draft 2018. Fast, good range and defense in CF, weak bat with adequate on base skills, but pretty light on pop. He’s cut down on the excessive K rate over the past couple years.

Michael Helman: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a28 – Utility, 11th round draft 2018. Good 2B asked to cover other positions. He’s quick leading to 40 swiped bases in 2022, but lost most of his season to a shoulder dislocation in 2023. Contact hitter. Low walks, low strikeouts, good power, but doesn’t drive the ball consistently.

Carlos Luna: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a27 – RH swing starter, MiLB free agent, originally international signing 2014 Brewers. He’s best suited to the lower minors. Adequate K rate, walks are okay as well, but he gives up a metric ton of hits above A+ league play.

Francis Peguero: MLB unranked, Fangraphs 31st. AAA a27 – RH reliever, acquired with Sonny Gray for Chase Petty in 2022. Peguero was a low minors, high risk reliever when the Twins asked for him to be thrown in with Gray. The K rate dropped and the walks increased as he moved up to AA and in a limited AAA sample, he was hit hard, resulting in a 7.20 ERA after a 4.50 ERA in AA most of the year.

Cody Laweryson: MLB unranked, Fangraphs 32nd. AAA a26 – RH swing starter, 14th round draft 2019. Flying high on 2022’s excellent A+/AA campaign, Laweryson was overwhelming hitters with a 10.4 K/9 and 2.6 BB/9 while limiting hits. It led to a very sparkly, and well earned 1.06 ERA in Wichita. The shiny silver Laweryson Amtrak derailed this year in AAA as those K’s transformed into BBs and hits as more experienced and disciplined AAA hitters didn’t offer as easily, ballooning the WHIP from 0.94 to 1.52. Naturally, the ERA followed suit jumping to 4.80.

Austin Schulfer: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a28 – RH reliever, 19th round draft 2018. There was a flash in the pan at AA last year, but Schulfer returned to form at AAA. Weak K rate, lots of walks, lots of hits. The 3.79 ERA at AAA this year is belied by the 1.60 WHIP.

Alex Scherff: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a26 – RH reliever, acquired in the blockbuster trade of middling journeyman reliever Hansel Robles to Boston. Scherff is like Nolan Ryan if Nolan Ryan also gave up a ton of hits. High K’s, lots of BBs, but now serving tons of hits! Scherff was promoted to AAA to finish out the season where he walked everybody who didn’t swing at pitches in the dirt and promptly had strikes airmailed into the outfield seats. His 2.18 stat would have made for an impressive ERA, but it’s actually his WHIP. His 9.53 stat would have been a nice K/9, but it was actually his ERA. Granted that it was only in 5 games, but not soooo goooood. Truthfully, he seems kinda like Drew Strotman in terms of results.

Hunter McMahon: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AAA a26 – RH reliever, acquired from the Nationals for what had been a really solid middle reliever in 2019, Ryne Harper. McMahon owned a really nice 1.59 ERA in AAA last year, but it was a SSS illusion. Lots of hits, adequate walks, low strikeouts has been the calling card in the high minors, but he had quite a bit of success lower down.

Curtis Taylor: MLB/Fangraphs unranked. AA a28 - RH reliever, acquired after being released from the Cubs minor league system in 2023. Taylor has flashed elite strikeouts during his long journeyman travels through the bowls of MiLB as he bounced from Arizona to Tampa Bay to Toronto to Washington to Chicago to Minnesota from 2016-2023. Taylor pitched adequately in AA for Wichita last year, but the BB rates and hit rates were a smidge too high. Taylor features a high 90s fastball, good slider and a changeup. Originally drafted as a starter, he was converted to a reliever. There’s nothing really special in the results, but he has a pretty interesting history. He did technically finish in AAA with 1.0 IP last year.

Other Ranked Rule 5 Eligibles

Taylor Floyd: MLB unranked, Fangraphs 36th. AA a26 – RH reliever, acquired from Brewers as the PTBNL in the Trevor Megill trade. Floyd was enjoying a resurgent 2023 campaign with the Brewers in A+ with elite strikeouts, adequate walks and solid hits allowed for a 0.97 WHIP. MLBtraderumors says he’s a ground ball machine. That said, nobody tightened the lugnuts, and his ERA wheels fell off at AA sporting a 5.97 result. Hitters drove his pitches hard for a ton of hits and a .368 BABIP probably wasn’t luck related. Floyd’s ground ball nature successfully limited home runs, but he still walked 4.5/9.

Jose Salas: MLB 17th, Fangraphs 9th. A+ a21 – 2B/3B/SS, acquired with Pablo Lopez in the Luis Arraez trade. Scouts praise Salas’ speed, instincts and plate discipline, but his defense outside of 2B needs work and he’s still very raw. The Twins were hoping his bat would spark this year in a repeat of high-A, but the scouting report highs didn’t show up apart from the speed. His .537 OPS in his age 20 repeat season through A+ will protect him from any sane rule-5 grabs. Elite prospects do not struggle in repeat low minors seasons, especially in years where they become rule-5 eligible. He shouldn’t be ranked at this point, IMHO.

Ricardo Olivar: MLB 21st, Fangraphs 25th. A- a22 – C/OF, International free agent 2019. Olivar was almost 50/50 C/LF in his age 21 season at Low-A Ft. Myers last year. He’s got blinding speed (for a catcher) and was asked to cover CF in a pinch a couple times, but he was completely hapless at controlling the run game at all behind the plate with a 13% CS rate in 85 attempts despite this being his 3rd year behind the dish in the Twins system. An average catcher might nail 50% in low minors. His bat played well by delivering an .855 OPS on the back of solid on base skills and good hitting delivering a .285/.403/.452 stat line. He’s 100% not going to be picked by anybody considering he’s a fairly low ranked raw prospect coming out of Low-A.