Minnesota Twins Opening Day Roster taking shape and remaining decisions

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 17: Tyler Duffey
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - APRIL 17: Tyler Duffey /

The Minnesota Twins made a series of moves Thursday which gave more clarity to what their Opening Day roster will look like.

The Minnesota Twins announced a flurry of moves Thursday which has helped bring the Opening Day roster into view. With a week until the Twins open in Baltimore a few players were able to breathe a temporary sigh of relief. A few others are going to the minors and then others could be looking for new opportunities elsewhere.

Bullpen picture becomes clearer

In some of the first moves Thursday, the bullpen picture became a bit clearer. Alan Busenitz and Tyler Duffey were both optioned to Triple-A. Both players were in reality probably out of the bullpen before spring training started with the Twins additions of Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, and Zach Duke. There are just only so many bullpen spots to go around.

Neither pitcher helped their case with their spring performances. Over 8.2 innings this spring, Busenitz allowed 11 hits, 7 earned runs (8 runs total), 11 strikeouts, and a 7.27 ERA. What is encouraging is in the small sample size of spring the right-hander had a jump in his K/9 rate. The problem was he wasn’t missing bats enough to prevent hits.

Duffey over 12.2 innings pitched allowed 17 hits, 10 earned runs (12 runs total), 7 strikeouts, and 7.11 ERA. At one point it was thought that Duffey would be right in the mix for a long reliever role. As the Twins traded for Jake Odorizzi and then signed Lance Lynn, Duffey continued to get pushed down the depth chart. It will be interesting to see where the Twins wind up using Duffey in Rochester.

Two veterans don’t make the team

Both Erick Aybar and Chris Heisey were informed they will not be making the Twins 25-man roster. Heisey was a somewhat long shot when he signed. HIs spring numbers of .161/.250/.194 clearly didn’t impress the Twins enough to keep him on the roster resulting in his release.

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Aybar seemed to have a potential inside track to roster spot after the announcement of Jorge Polanco‘s suspension this past Sunday. The infielder even performed pretty well as he slashed .258/.281/.355 and added a double and a triple. The Twins ultimately will fill their infield needs with other players. Which isn’t too surprising with Aybar’s reduced range at shortstop. Aybar is technically still on the Twins roster, but it would seem likely he will exercise his opt-out in the coming days.

Position players optioned

Brock Stassi, Willians Astudillo, and Bobby Wilson were all optioned as well. These players are mostly formalities as each was signed as minor league depth. Although Astudillo and Wilson were in theory part of the battle for the backup catcher position with Mitch Garver. New addition Jake Cave was also optioned. He does seem like someone to keep an eye on as a part of the group that could be the first call-ups once the season begins if there are any injuries or struggles.

These moves leave battles for the final bullpen spot between Gabriel Moya and Tyler Kinley. Based on the Rule-5 draft status and his fastball it seems Kinley is destined for the final spot and has another outing scheduled to prove that. The final bench spot seems to come down to Zack Granite and Ryan LaMarre. LaMarre has had a solid spring, but this looks to be Granite’s spot. Especially with needed insurance because of Eddie Rosario‘s injury.

Next: A look at prospect OF LaMonte Wade

The Twins roster is taking shape and it should be a pretty deep roster. That is indicated by the level of talent that is heading out of big league camp today. Soon they will have the opportunity to turn that depth into wins.