Minnesota Twins: Four Questions to Answer during Spring Training
By Otto Johnson
Who plays left field for the Minnesota Twins in 2021?
For the past four years, Eddie Rosario has started at least 70% of Minnesota Twins games in left field, offering fun offense, mediocre defense, and terrible base-running. With his arbitration number rising to high for the Twins to want to meet, the team let him head to Cleveland, leaving some fun memories and a large hole in the lineup.
Now, the team has to decide what to do to fill that hole. After passing on the free agent market, the team can look at options within the club to fill the spot (which was likely always the plan, given the team’s numerous options).
The easy answer here is Alex Kirilloff. Kirilloff is the Twins’ top outfield prospect and the seventh-best outfield prospect in all of baseball. He’s MLB ready, and both the organization and their fans are VERY ready to see what he can do when given some MLB exposure. He even made his playoff debut in the Wild Card Series, dropping a single.
There’s only one holdup here: service time. If the Twins hold him down in the minors for a chunk of the season, they can prevent him from becoming a free agent until 2028, rather than 2027. If they keep him down at the start of the year, they also can preserve one of his options. It’s not a great move for 2020, but it would make sense for the long-term.
If they did opt to hold Kirilloff out for a month or so, a different Twin would get a chance to shine. Jake Cave has been the fourth outfielder for the Twins for the past three years, and while he doesn’t exactly inspire, he wouldn’t actively hurt the team. Luis Arraez is displaced at second and could make an appearance, but he would be best served as the team’s tenth man.
That leaves Brent Rooker. Rooker is 26 now, and despite having played in just seven major league games, has the highest upside of any of these options. We’ve talked a lot about what his year could look like in 2021, but if the team decides it’s not time for Kirilloff yet, Rooker is the smart move.