Here’s a look at the 26 players the Twins plan to take north
FORT MYERS, Fla. — And then there were 26.
After a month and a half in Southwest Florida, the Twins finally have settled on the 26 players they’ll begin the season with. There are few surprises with the group; this year’s camp didn’t feature many roster battles, though a couple of injuries did open doors for players who otherwise might have started the year in Triple-A.
Here’s a look at the 26 players the Twins are planning on opening the season with and how they’ll be utilized:
Pablo López, Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda
The Twins had six major-league starters for five spots — good news for the team, bad news for Bailey Ober, who will begin his season at Triple-A awaiting a call up. Ober was optioned to St. Paul on Sunday, one of the last cuts of camp.
After a 2022 season in which Twins starters pitched five innings or fewer innings in 110 of their 162 games, most in the majors, Gray expressed his higher hopes for the rotation this season.
“I don’t think we’re interested in going four innings and being happy,” Gray said. “I feel like we had a group last year that was pretty content with going four innings and going four innings and five innings is considered a good start. I disagreed with that then. I disagree with that now, but I feel like just the guys that we have aren’t content with it either, which is what you want, especially as a rotation.”
The Twins’ rotation added a healthy Kenta Maeda — he spent last season rehabbing from Tommy John surgery — plus healthy Tyler Mahle and Pablo López, whom they acquired for Luis Arraez. This collection of arms, they feel, is better equipped to pitch deeper into games.
Jhoan Duran, Jorge López, Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Emilio Pagán, Cole Sands, Caleb Thielbar
The Twins enter the season with a number of late-inning arms they feel confident turning to, starting with Duran, who set lofty goals of saving between 40-45 games and striking out 120 batters in his second season.
Griffin Jax, Jorge López and Caleb Thielbar should see higher-leverage opportunities as well. Thielbar will be one of two lefties the Twins carry to begin the season; Jovani Moran is the other.
Sands, who was recently notified that he will be making the Opening Day roster, will fill the long-man role that manager Rocco Baldelli has talked about wanting. Potential other options like Josh Winder and Ronny Henriquez dealt with injuries this spring that took them out of the equation.
Christian Vázquez, Ryan Jeffers
Expect to see a decent mix of both catchers, though Vázquez, whom the Twins brought in this offseason, should see more playing time throughout the season.
Carlos Correa, Jose Miranda, Nick Gordon, Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano, Willi Castro
Correa will be stationed at short and Miranda might bounce between third and first to begin the season depending on his shoulder, but the Twins’ infield is down a first baseman — Alex Kirilloff — and second baseman — Jorge Polanco — to begin the season.
Joey Gallo, a Gold Glove outfielder, is likely to see his fair share of time at first base to begin the season in place of Kirilloff. Donovan Solano could get some playing time there, too.
Gordon, a lefty, will play some second while Polanco is on the injured list. He’s likely to bounce from the infield to the outfield, too. Farmer will serve as the primary backup as shortstop and move around to second and third, as well, getting most of his playing time against lefties.
Castro, a switch hitter, played nearly every position for the Tigers last season and said moving around the field is something which he enjoys. Castro nabbed the final bench spot and will need to be added to the 40-man roster before Thursday.
Max Kepler, Byron Buxton, Joey Gallo, Michael A. Taylor, Trevor Larnach
With Gallo likely to see a lot of time at first base to begin the season, the opportunity should be open for Larnach to see his fair share of playing time in left field.
Likewise, Buxton, who had knee surgery at the end of last season, is expected to spend much of April serving as the team’s designated hitter, which will create playing time for Michael A. Taylor, also a Gold Glover, in center field.
Outfield defense figures to be a strength for the Twins, who boast three Gold Glovers along with Max Kepler, whom Buxton said is “definitely a Gold Glove outfielder,” as well.
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