Twins Sign Several Players to Minor League Contracts

Aug 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder J.B. Shuck (20) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Aug 10, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Chicago White Sox center fielder J.B. Shuck (20) hits a solo home run in the fourth inning against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /

Twins Pick up Players on Minor League Deals, with Invites to Spring Training. We Break Down Who we Think Have a Chance to Stick.

So far this off-season, the Minnesota Twins have signed seven players to minor league contracts with an invitation to Spring Training that starts in a few weeks.

Looking from afar, these signings usually draw a collective yawn from major league fan bases. But last years’ signings included the Twins’ leader in saves (Brandon Kintzler), backup catcher (Juan Centeno), and Trade Deadline fodder (Fernando Abad).

Abad ended up having the lowest ERA among any Twins pitcher last year, Buddy Boshers was 2-0 and effective out of the pen, Kintzler was the savior as closer after Glen Perkins‘ injury and Kevin Jepsen‘s flameout.

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Centeno showed surprising pop with his bat, and Darin Mastroianni had only but a cup of coffee before getting hurt once again.

One of last year’s signing’s, Carlos Quentin, was among the last cuts and looked to have some gas left in the tank, but Quentin decided to retire instead.

Signed since December are: Ben Paulsen, Leandro Castro, Tommy Field, Matt Hague, Eddy Rodriguez, Dan Rohlfing, and J.B. Shuck.

This year’s seven signees have some major league experience, and have one thing in common – none are pitchers.

Last year, the majority of the free agents picked up in the off-season were pitchers. This year’s list includes two catchers, two outfielders, two first basemen, and one second baseman.

Depending on what happens with the glut at first base, the Twins don’t appear to have any openings there unless some players are moved or injuries occur. With Joe Mauer, Kennys Vargas, and Byung-ho Park all on the team, and coveted prospect Daniel Palka‘s limited range in the outfield, it will take a miracle for any of the next two players to make the team. Or will it?

First Basemen: Ben Paulsen & Matt Hauge

On paper, it appears Paulsen has the best background of any of the free agents to make the team. Just two years ago for Colorado, Paulsen hit 11 HR, 19 2B, drove in 49, and hit .277 in 116 games.

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /

He fell off last year, hitting just .217, and found himself on the open market.

One caveat for Paulsen, however, is that he can play outfield. It does double his chances for players lost due to injury in Spring Training, or someone needing to be sent down after a bad showing in March.

Matt Hague has played in 43 games in the bigs, last with the Toronto Blue Jays. Hague has spent eight years in the minors, and one year in Japan. His last full minor league season (2015), was his best, slashing .338 BA / .416 OBP / .885 OPS / 11 HR / 92 RBI.

He too, has the luxury of being able to play another position. In his case, third base. With Miguel Sano attempting to start his first full season at the hot corner, and the incumbent Trevor Plouffe released, Hauge could find some playing time if he can swing the bat like he did in 2015.

So while it appears on the surface that both players are long shots to make the team given their first position, it could be their versatility that allows one, or both, players to make the trip North.

2B: Tommy Field

Signed for depth at second base in case a certain All-Star is traded. Tommy Field does have some pop (14 HR in last full minor league season), but didn’t have much of a future in Texas behind Rougned Odor.

If Dozier is traded, look for Jorge Polanco to get a long look a second. Polanco is currently playing exclusively at second base for Escogito, hitting .400 in his first six games. Behind Polanco, however, the Twins are lacking depth in players with major league experience.

So if indeed Dozier is traded, Field may stick for insurance. Their only other player in the system with experience, James Beresford, was granted his release to become a free agent.

Next: More Teams Interested in Dozier?

Tomorrow, we’ll break down the other four’s chances at making the 2017 Twins. Maybe by then, we’ll know more about the rumors surrounding Dozier and the Dodgers as well.