The Minnesota Twins enter the 2021 offseason with numerous questions across the board, and with a large number of positions with major question marks, it’s not so easy for Twins fans and writers to make real predictions at what could happen.
With that being said, we’re going to give it our best at breaking down each position on the roster and what to do this offseason, breaking down major questions, possible free agent additions, prospect call ups, trade options, and a prediction on what the position will look like when the 2022 season begins in roughly five months.
We continue our Minnesota Twins offseason positional previews with first base.
We took a look at the catcher position yesterday, one with a big question mark in Mitch Garver, but today’s positional group is a little more settled. First base has had just four different Opening Day starters for the Twins since 2005 with Justin Morneau getting 8, Joe Mauer getting 5, Miguel Sano getting 2, and C.J. Cron and Chris Parmalee getting one apiece.
It doesn’t look like any name will be added to that list in 2022, with Sano expected to finish out the last year of his contract in Minnesota, but there are some other possibilities that could end up occurring if the team decides to switch it up. Let’s break it down.
Who’s currently on the Minnesota Twins Roster?
Miguel Sano: The most obvious one is Miguel Sano, one of the longest tenured Twins on the roster. Sano started 118 games at the position in 2021 and seems likely to return this season at his relatively inexpensive $9.25 million salary.
Sano put together a 30 homer season and .778 OPS over 135 total games, set a career high in walks, and improved his defense last year. Despite how some Twins fans feel about him, he’s probably the primary first baseman for 2022 (though declining his $14 million option for 2023 seems likely).
Alex Kirilloff: Though the Twins’ official roster has Alex Kirilloff listed as an outfielder, his skills best translate as a first baseman, the position he played the most games at in 2021. When he was fully healthy, his sweet sing and incredible talent were on full display. Unfortunately, he wasn’t fully healthy very much, managing just 59 games in 2021.
That will change in 2022. Kirilloff is still adjusting to the big leagues, so it’s good Sano is still here for one more season, but Alex is the future at first and will see lots of time there. Expect him to play first, designated hitter, and the corner outfield spots to keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.
Willians Astudillo: Willians Astudillo is still on the roster as of right now, but if the Twins give him a roster spot again next year and his $1.2 million projected arbitration salary, the front office should be cleared out immediately.
Top Minnesota Twins Minor League First Basemen
Roy Morales: Roy Morales, signed from independent baseball last year, had a solid year at Double-AA Wichita in 2021, slashing .306/.379/.363. He doesn’t have a lot of power, but if the Twins keep him in the organization, he’s probably next in line to be the major league first baseman if injuries get out of hand.
Aaron Sabato: In a very thin group, Aaron Sabato is the team’s top first base prospect. The 2020 first round pick started slow but ended the year strongly in High-A. His power is incredible, but he’s still way too raw to make the big league squad in 2022.
Free Agent and Trade Targets for the Minnesota Twins to Consider
Travis Shaw/Mitch Moreland: Similar to the catcher position, a free agent signing or trade seems pretty unlikely here. With that being said, in the unlikely event Sano is traded or if the Twins want Kirilloff to be an outfielder, adding a veteran player like Travis Shaw or Mitch Moreland makes sense.
Shaw had a brutal past two seasons but he could add a powerful left-handed bench bat when needed. Moreland is in a similar spot. Both are coming off of bad seasons, but if Sano is moved or the Twins want Kirilloff in the outfield, both would come cheap and help out depth.
Eric Hosmer: Now this is a fun, but rather unrealistic idea. If the Twins want a little more consistency and a rebuild is on the horizon, shipping Miguel Sano for Eric Hosmer and a prospect would be a good deal for Minnesota.
Hosmer is an average first baseman who will be paid $21 million this year and $13 million each year for the next three years after that. The Padres are trying to move him to escape his salary. Trading out Sano would secure the Twins at first base for the next few years and earn a top prospect for their troubles.
Again, this deal is unlikely, as the Twins seem like they want to compete and have several other positions to address. If Garver, Buxton, and Donaldson are traded, this would be a great deal to further advance the rebuild.
Predictions for Next Year’s Minnesota Twins First Base Room
Barring a major surprise, Miguel Sano will start the 2022 season as the Minnesota Twins first baseman, which is a very good thing. He’s very consistent in what he provides, and he’ll serve as a perfect bridge to Alex Kirilloff.
I don’t expect the Twins to do much here, but with so much uncertainty across the board, almost anything can happen.