Do the Twins Have A Catching Problem?

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For those familiar with the 25 man roster construction in recent history under Ron Gardenhire, you may be aware of the preference to carry three catchers. While that served its purpose at a time with Joe Mauer in the limbo, it took up a valuable roster spot as well. Now the Twins find themselves in a different spot underneath first year manager, Paul Molitor. Looking at the 40 man roster, only two catchers find themselves listed in total.

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To give some quick reference, the 25 man roster is your active major league roster, while the 40 man roster allows players to be called up to play on your major league club without having to designate a player for assignment to make room. Currently, the only catchers listed on the 40 man roster for the Twins are Josmil Pinto and Kurt Suzuki.

Last season, Kurt Suzuki proved to be one of the Twins most key free agent finds. He found himself playing at an All-Star level, and was rewarded with a contract extension by the Twins. Pinto found himself spending most of the year at Triple-A Rochester. Seen as someone who could handle the bat but lacked the ability to control the game behind the plate, he was the odd man out. Now heading into 2015, the Twins don’t seem to have the luxury of a defensive backstop at their disposal.

With Suzuki, the Twins will get an all-around option. He will experience some regression for sure as his .288/.345/.383 slash line was amongst the best of his career. However, even with regression, he is someone the Twins can lean on to handle the bulk of the work. Josmil Pinto’s seven home runs and 18 runs batted in across just 57 games in 2014 should get his bat in the lineup, but his lack of ability behind the plate could equally keep him on the bench.

Outside of those two options, the question is, where do the Twins turn? Should either Suzuki or Pinto find themselves injured, or significantly over-matched and lacking production, what options do the Twins have? In short, the answer is none.

On the 40 man roster, the only other player that is a realistic catching option is Chris Hermann. Hermann broke into the big leagues with the Twins behind the plate, but he was quickly transitioned into an outfield role, and that is where he currently finds himself listed. There’s nothing that says in an emergency situation that an audible couldn’t be called, but to call that ideal would be shortsighted.

Looking through the farm system, there may be even fewer answers. Eric Fryer is currently slated to start in Triple-A Rochester. Fryer played in 28 games for the Twins last season. Although not an ideal major leaguer, especially considering he offers nothing at the plate, Fryer could be added to the 40 man roster if the Twins found themselves pressed into the situation. Rochester’s other backstop, Dan Rohlfing, has not seen time with the Twins yet and he has done little to warrant doing so.

Further down the line, the Twins have an intriguing option in Stuart Turner. The 3rd round pick in the 2013 MLB draft out of Mississippi is currently on the Fort Myers Miracle roster. While he projects as someone who could find himself in the Twins long-term plans, he probably isn’t someone who a competitive Twins team wants behind the plate in 2015.

After looking through options and realizing that there may be few, the Twins could find themselves piecing together the position if disaster strikes. Both Suzuki and Pinto reside as strong options at the catcher position, but the realization is that depth behind them is something less than an asset. Should the Twins find themselves battling for position in 2015, it will be in part because both Kurt Suzuki and Josmil Pinto found themselves holding down the plate on the field.

Next: Projecting Your 2015 Minnesota Twins 25 Man Roster

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