Minnesota Twins Offseason Weekly Reaction: Kennys Vargas and the Rotation


Writers Note: A weekly review of the Minnesota Twins offseason transactions, including reaction and opinions from fans and myself. Look for future polls on my Twitter account to share your opinions.

Last week I looked at the current state of the bullpen, which ties into the lack of recent transactions.

With still no transactions, the Minnesota Twins offseason has turned into nothing but rumors. Even the rumors are starting to dissipate.

MLBTradeRumors.com shared rumors that the Twins were going to sell the contract of Kennys Vargas to Japan or Korea. That has not happened of course, and Vargas will more than likely stay with the Twins organization.

It would appear that the Twins have either given up on Vargas or the team believes he will not make the opening day roster. He isn’t the only one however. Oswaldo Arcia is in a similar situation. He is the odd man out in the outfield rotation.

A closer look at both players reveals that they are more similar than meets the eye. Both would be entering their third major league season. Both regressed in 2015 (Arcia’s was worse). Both will be 25 this coming season, and both are on the outside looking in. The actions taken earlier in the offseason are why Arcia and Vargas will find it difficult to make the Twins roster out of Spring Training.

Arcia had a far less than stellar year in 2015. Due to an injury, he played in only 19 games with the Twins after appearing in 200 the previous two seasons combined. Sent to triple-A for rehab, Arcia stayed in Rochester for the rest of 2015. Slashing .199/.257/.372 in 79 games, it was the worst performance of his baseball career. When rosters expanded to 40, Arica was no where to found. Instead, he was seemingly passed over by Max Kepler.

Vargas had a rough 2015 too. He spent close to the same amount of games with the Twins as he did in the minors. Sent down to double-A Chattanooga to help him focus on his swing, Vargas struggled to reclaim the success he had in 2014. His .240/.277/.349 slash was not good enough to stay in the lineup on a consistent basis. In triple-A and double-A the noticeable improvement was his discipline. He walked much more than he has in the majors, owning a OBP above .400. However, do not forget Vargas had a memorable 2015 moment.

As for who is more likely to not make the opening day roster, it appears it is Vargas. Arcia could make it as a fourth outfielder at the very least, if Rosario, Buxton and Sano are healthy to start the year. He will have competition from others such as Ryan Sweeney, Darin Mastroianni and Kepler. Arcia has more of a chance to make the roster for than Vargas does.

Vargas has too many players in front of him on the depth chart. Joe Mauer and Trevor Plouffe will remain starters at their respective positions. The key is the signing of Byung Ho Park. Park blocks off Vargas. Park will start the year as the DH. Vargas can only DH or play first base. It would benefit him to get consistent at-bats, which won’t happen playing a bench role. Even he came off the bench every once in a while there is no way he could find any consistency.

Full Rotation

The Twins yet again have a pitching problem. Similar to 2015, there is competition for the fifth spot in the rotation. The problem? There are eight pitchers who are in the mix. The three pitchers who have a locked spot are Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana and Kyle Gibson. Tommy Milone or Tyler Duffey will be the fourth starter. The rest competing for the last spot are Trevor May, Ricky Nolasco and Jose Berrios.

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Berrios, as I have written about before, won’t make a debut till the month of May (if healthy). If the Twins feel that he is ready and the others perform poorly, then Berrios will start the year with the Twins.

May could be used in the bullpen if Paul Molitor chooses to do so. May showed good strikeout ability last season. It would be logical to keep him there.

Nolasco would have to outperform Duffy or Milone to make the rotation. If he does not, then Nolasco would slide into the long relief role.

I see the rotation consisting of Hughes, Santana, Gibson, Duffy and Milone to start the year. At some point, Berrios will be in the rotation. As soon as Duffy or Milone or even Gibson struggle Berrios will take their spot.