Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Where they stand: First base

Presumptive regular: C.J. Cron

Others on the 40: Tyler Austin, possibly Miguel Sano

Nonroster notables: Brent Rooker

I've put off this position for a week or so in large part because I don't really have anything new to say. Of the three position-player additions for the Twins this offseason, Cron is the one I have the most trouble with. A right-handed first baseman who hits dingers but is chronically weak in on-base percentage and spent most of 2017 as a DH ... he's pretty much the opposite of Joe Mauer.

I'm not sure he gives the Twins anything they couldn't get from Austin. Or the departed Byung-ho Park, for that matter. On the other hand, Park and Austin had have frequent injuries. Cron has had only one 500-plate appearance season as a full-fledged regular, but that's for lack of opportunity, not injuries.

Right-right first basemen don't often get repeated opportunities; some never get an opportunity. Cron got one and took advantage of it.

He's on a one-year deal here, and I think it likely that the 2020 first baseman will be Brent Rooker, who figures to open 2019 in Triple A Rochester. He didn't dominate Double A statistically in 2018 as he did High A in his limited time after being drafted in 2017, but I think he's the future at first base for the Twins. Cron is just filling the gap.

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