Minnesota Twins Spring Training Battles: Position Players
Subs: Assuming the Twins take 12 pitchers and 13 position players north, then there are 4 bench roles to decide. Molitor could conceivably opt for a 3 man bench and 8 relievers but let’s assume the Twins are looking for a 4-man bench.
Luckily, the Twins have not one, but two players who can play both infield and outfield positions without sacrificing too much defensively. Danny Santana and Eduardo Nunez are those “super subs.” Santana can back up middle infield spots as well as roam all the outfield posts. Nunez adds the distinction of being able to play 3B. The Twins can also use Sano and Escobar there to rest other players or to give a few guys some needed at-bats.
Service time considerations will most likely keep outfielder Max Kepler in AAA for the first month or so, barring any injuries. Oswaldo Arcia is out of options at just 24 years of age. He is up against stiff competition for that extra outfield spot. In addition to Mastroanni, Quentin and Sweeney, the Twins also reached back to their past by inviting Joe Benson to camp. The Twins would like to find a spot in this year’s outfield for Arcia, even if it’s just to showcase him for a possible trade and open up a spot for Kepler later on. But the Sano experiment will once again drive Molitor’s decision here. He needs productivity off the bench, so a great spring by any of the veterans could win them the job.
If Molitor thinks he needs both super subs, and doesn’t want to risk losing either since both are out of options, then the remaining bench spot falls to who wins among the outfield options. The fourth sub, of course, is the backup catcher. If Buxton needs work on his swing and starts the season in the minors, we could see Arcia and Sweeney fighting for the starting corner outfield position that Rosario vacates to slide to center. The Twins are hoping it doesn’t come to that. The present and future is a lot clearer with him in center field on Opening Day—and a lot brighter.
Tomorrow, the battle for pitching spots.