2022 Minnesota Twins Offseason Positional Preview: Outfield
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.
Our next Minnesota Twins positional preview focuses on the outfield, a suddenly stable group.
We’ve made it through the infield, with catcher, first base, second base, shortstop, and third base, all within the past few weeks. Today we move into the outfield, where we will only need one article, because Byron Buxton’s historic extension takes away the big question the team had for this offseason.
Max Kepler will start the year in right field barring a stunning deal. If the Twins were to trade him, they would want him to rebuild his value first. The Twins will likely use a mishmash of players in left field again, with the team hoping Trevor Larnach will lead the way.
Center field was supposed to be the big question of the offseason, but with Buxton locked in and Jake Cave set to back him up, there aren’t a lot of question marks. Regardless, let’s dig into the group.
Who’s currently on the Minnesota Twins Roster?
Byron Buxton: Byron Buxton is the team’s franchise player and easily the most talented man on the roster, and now we know for sure that he’ll be around for the next seven years. As long as he’s healthy, he’s the answer in center.
After a career year in 2021, the only question remaining is the same as the one asked in previous years: can Buxton finally stay healthy? If he can, the Twins have an MVP on their hands. If not, he still will be well worth the money he’s earning.
Max Kepler: Max Kepler has had a brutal past couple of years offensively, seeing his slash line drop in each of the past two seasons following his career year in 2019. Regardless of this, Kepler has remained a solid power hitter and a positive defender, so his value is still there.
Alex Kirilloff and other young outfielders may eat into his playing time a little bit, especially since he’s horrendous against left-handed pitchers, but Kepler will still be relied on for a larger majority of the team’s games.
Brent Rooker: The 27-year-old Rooker had a very disappointing season offensively, struggling mightily to hit for contact, get on base, and play defense, but his power is still there and the team believes there’s still more untapped potential in his bat.
He’s not arbitration eligible until 2024 and his power is legitimate, so I don’t expect the Twins to suddenly give up on him after a rough full season. He’s a likeable guy and will be another rotational outfielder, first baseman, and designated hitter for the team to use.
Trevor Larnach: One of the highest rated Twins prospects of the past ten years, Trevor Larnach was expected to join the Twins lineup and immediately succeed once he was promoted. It seemed he was promoted a little too early, as he struggled higher than Double-AA.
Don’t let his poor 2021 fool you though. Larnach is still the future of the organization in left field and should be given every chance to win the job in Spring Training and in the offseason. At worst, expect him to be holding down the role by July.
Jake Cave: Come hell or high water, Jake Cave finds a way to remain on the Minnesota Twins 40-Man roster. After an absolutely dreadful 2021, Cave avoided arbitration by signing a $1 million deal, meaning the 29-year-old we paid almost nothing to be the fourth outfielder.
He hasn’t been a productive player since 2019, but I’m sure the Twins are planning on using him as a solid bench outfielder who will spend some time in between the majors and Triple-AAA with the Saints. Given how injury prone Buxton, Kepler, and Kirilloff seem to be, holding onto a good clubhouse guy like Cave isn’t a terrible depth move.
Alex Kirilloff: The other Twins top outfield prospect, Alex Kirilloff seems destined for more playing time at first base and designated hitter than in the outfield, and we focused a little more on him there. With that being said, don’t be surprised if he finds a lot of starts in the outfield due to injuries or inconsistent performance. His bat will find a way.
Nick Gordon/Luis Arraez: Present on most of these preview lists, Nick Gordon and Luis Arraez are here again as the team’s utility players. With that being said, don’t expect them to play much outfield with the team fully healthy to start 2022.
Top Minnesota Twins Minor League Outfielders
Gilberto Celestino: The most MLB-ready prospect the Twins have in the minors, Gilberto Celestino is on the team’s 40-man roster right now. He wasn’t quite ready to compete offensively when injuries forced him into the lineup last season, but after some fine-tuning at Triple-AAA, he could see some time in center field in 2022.
Austin Martin/Royce Lewis: Technically, both top prospects are considered infielders, but both top prospects spent a good chunk of time in the outfield as well. I don’t expect either to be ready in 2022, but it wouldn’t be a shocker if either makes their debut and spends some time in the outfield as well.
Free Agent and Trade Targets for the Minnesota Twins to Consider
I’m going to say the same thing I said about third basemen. Don’t add any outfield help. Of the available outfielders in free agency, a reunion with Eddie Rosario makes sense, and a deal with Kris Bryant would be incredible, but the Twins don’t need it. Spend the money elsewhere.
Predictions for Next Year’s Minnesota Twins Outfield Room
Max Kepler and Byron Buxton will be in the starting lineup on Opening Day, with Kepler in right and Buxton in center if both are healthy. Left field is a question mark, but expect it to be answered within the organization, with Rooker, Cave, Gordon, Larnach, Arraez, and Kirilloff all mixing in as well. If everyone performs like we know they can, everything will be all good.