More Cuts for the Twins


The roster keeps shrinking, with four more cuts Tuesday. Joe Benson, Jeff Manship, Rene Rivera, and Pedro Florimon all got pink slips this morning, bringing the total down to 34.

Each of these players is a special case, so the cut does not mean the same thing for any two of them.

Benson was never expected to make the team or even to compete seriously for a slot. He is one of the team’s top prospects, and he earned a call-up to the Show last September. He even showed some flashes of talent during that stint, but his high strikeout and low on-base rates showed that he still needs some time in the minors. His spring performance was solid – .262/.319/.429 with a pair of homers – but he still whiffed 13 times in 42 at bats. Benson is a member of the Next Generation of Twins, and he just needs to improve his contact rate a little bit to get there.

At the beginning of Spring Training, Manship looked like a safer bet to compete for a Twins job. Like Benson, he is on the 40 man roster, and at age 27, Manship has already proven that he can pitch in the Majors. With a ton of relievers in camp, the bullpen, Manship seemed as likely as anyone to win a job. Alas, it was not to be, as he racked up a 5.19 ERA in 8 games (8.2 innings). The good news for Manship is that he is likely to return to Minnesota at some point during the season: he has pitched at least a few games for the Twins every season since 2009. Unless the Twins bullpen is miraculously healthy and surprisingly effective, Manship will be back.

The Rivera cut is significant in that it clarifies the backup catcher role somewhat. Drew Butera remains the odds-on favorite to win the job, but Rivera and J.R. Towles had both been in the running as well. Now it’s a two man battle between Towles and Butera. After a 1-4 performance yesterday, Towles is hitting .263 this spring with a couple of homers. Butera is hitting .294, but given his M.O. as a talented fielder, nobody is expecting Butera to win the job with his bat.

Florimon was brought in from the Orioles this offseason because the Twins had some gaping holes in the middle infield. Like Benson, Florimon had never played an inning above AA ball before he got his cup of coffee in the Majors last year. Also like Benson, Florimon has a penchant for the strikeout: he went down on strikes 120 times last year in 530 plate appearances (114 at AA and six with the O’s). Unlike Benson, Florimon will never be a power threat, but he has put up some decent OBPs for a shortstop, and he can steal an occasional base.

With the roster down to 34 players, there are only nine more cuts remaining. Things should get pretty tense this week.