This surprised me. I expected them to leave slots open to fill via trade or free agent signings; I didn't see eight guys who needed to be protected.
Filling the roster now doesn't rule out future moves. It just means that if the Twins sign a free agent to a major league deal, they'll have to take somebody off the roster. It does hint that the Twins are unlikely to delve into the Rule V draft next month.
The promotions: Kyle Gibson and Aaron Hicks were givens. Michael Tonkin, right-handed relief pitcher, had a big year in A ball — 97 strikeouts in 69.1 innings — and followed it up with a good run in the Arizona Fall League; as a reliever, he was a likely Rule V target if left off the roster. The others, as I see them, weren't:
- Daniel Santana, an infielder of whom I wrote last week, struck me as a marginal roster choice even if he is in fact the best shortstop prospect in the system; I can't see anybody taking him in Rule V and keeping him in the majors all season.
- B.J. Hermsen is a RH starter who doesn't walk or strike out many. Spent most of last year at Double A. The Twins certainly need starters, but the low strikeout rate suggests he isn't an answer.
- Tim Wood, RH reliever, is a curious story. He had a big year in Triple A for Pittsburgh, who decided they had no use for him anyway; the Twins signed him to a minor-league deal earlier this month, and now have put him on the 40. Perhaps there was enough competition for him as a free agent that the Twins feared he'd be snatched up in Rule V. (This happened to them in 2008 with R.A. Dickey.)
- Caleb Thielbar is a LH reliever. A Minnesota native who went to South Dakota State, he opened last season in High A and ended in Triple A, putting up good to decent numbers at each level. Numbers fell off when he hit Triple A. He turns 26 in January. Being left-handed certainly helps his stock.
- Josmil Pinto, a catcher, was named to Baseball America's High A postseason all-star team. His strong 2012 followed an unimpressive 2011. Maybe somebody would have taken him in Rule V and carried him as a backup catcher all year, but I doubt it. Turns 24 in March.
The bulleted five are probably marginal prospects. Maybe Santana and/or Pinto can develop into major league regulars, but they aren't going to do so in 2013. I would have thought the flexibility of one or more open roster spots would be worth the risk of exposing some of them to Rule V predation. Obviously, the Twins didn't see it that way.