Thursday, March 13, 2014

The roster outlook

With most (but not all) the intriguing prospects relegated to the minor league complex, the Twins major league camp now gets down to the business of winnowing down to the 25-man roster that will open the season.

There are still 48 players in camp, almost enough to field two full teams. And some of them aren't fighting for jobs.

These players, assuming they're healthy, will assuredly be on the roster when the season opens in Chicago on March 31:

Catcher: Kurt Suzuki

Comment: In my ideal world, Suzuki would be a heavy-use No. 2 — 60 to 80 games— behind Josmil Pinto. That's clearly not the current plan, and I'm starting to wonder if Pinto is durable enough to be a regular catcher anyway.

Infield: Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Florimon

Comment: Florimon's appendectomy has held him back, but Ron Gardenhire has said Florimon's his shortstop. He's practicing now but hasn't appeared in any Grapefruit League games.

Outfield: Josh Willingham, Oswaldo Arcia, Alex Presley

Comment: The Twins aren't publicly conceding a job to Arcia, but it would be rank silliness to send him back to the minors in order to feed at-bats to the likes of Jason Kubel or Chris Parmelee. Presley may or may not be the regular center fielder -- I think the Twins would prefer to have Aaron Hicks get the job -- but if he's not a regular, he'll be a bench guy.

Rotation: Ricky Nolasco, Phil Hughes, Kevin Correa, Mike Pelfrey.

Comment: These four are to get at least $5.5 million each this year. They're in.

Bullpen: Glen Perkins, Jared Burton, Brian Duensing, Casey Fien, Anthony Swarzak

Comment: Between contract status and effectiveness, they're in. The Twins may try to trade one or two of them to make room for younger relievers, but they're not going to release any of them.

That's 17 locks. Assuming a 12-man pitching staff (five starters), that leaves room for five position players, one starter and two relievers.

And that's what the remaining 31 players in camp are competing for the next two-plus weeks.

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