Friday, March 23, 2018

The opening roster takes shape

Hardly had I gotten Thursday's post published than the Twins did other than predicted. Tyler Duffey was optioned out (as was Alan Busenitz), leaving the Twins with 13 pitchers for 12 spots. The final spot figures to go to either Gabriel Moya or Tyler Kinley, with Kinley favored.

This suggests that the decison makers are confident that the starters are prepared to give them some length when the season opens next week. That hasn't been the outlook in recent years. Keeping Duffey and Phil Hughes would have given the Twins a fifth starter and a long reliever (or two spot starters/long men). Instead, it's just the post-operative Hughes.

Duffey will be used in relief in Rochester but in a stretched-out way, akin to how he was used last season. And he'll be in Minnesota sooner than later. There will be a need for innings out of the bullpen.

More surprising to me, in truth, was the lopping of veteran non-roster infielder Erick Aybar. I had been resigned to the notion that the suspension of Jorge Polanco and the uncertainty over Miguel Sano meant that Aybar, who hit well early in camp and then faded, was going to be on the opening roster.

Instead, it appears that the Twins intend to have five outfielders open the season in the majors. This may be related to Eddie Rosario's multi-week issues with his throwing elbow.

The conventional wisdom has Robbie Grossman and Zack Granite as the extra outfielders. I wouldn't rule out Ryan LaMarre, but he does have the significant disadvantage of being a non-roster guy.

And Mitch Garver will be the backup catcher. Bobby Wilson and Willians Astudillo were both told they won't be on the opening roster.


Kennys Vargas was claimed on waivers by the Cincinnati Reds, which is a bit puzzling. The Reds, as a National League team, have little need for a designated hitter, and Vargas should not be taking at-bats away from the great Joey Votto.

Best guess is that the Reds will quickly waive Vargas in hopes of stashing him at Triple A, which I think is what the Twins were hoping to do.

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