Figure out the plan in centerfield
Starting pitching is the marquee need for Minnesota, but it’s not the only thing that needs to be addressed. Arguably the next big concern is what’s going on out in centerfield, as there’s almost as much uncertainty there as in the rotation.
Byron Buxton is the hinge on which everything swings. He played exactly zero innings in the field last season (although he played some at Triple-A St. Paul while rehabbing), which created all sorts of anxiety about the future. Michael A. Taylor was able to fill in as the everyday centerfielder, but he’s gone and having someone other than Buxton filling that role is less than ideal.
Two things need to get figured out over the next weeks and months: What happens with Buxton and who plays center?
Both of those go hand-in-hand, as the real question is can Buxton play center? If he can, the Twins can either try and rely on him to play the bulk of his season there while platooning guys they already have on the roster. Austin Martin is the big name to keep an eye on, as he’s expected to be the next-in-line for the Twins youth movement and can help out in center.
If Buxton can’t be relied on to carry his weight in center, Minnesota needs to figure out another escape plan like they had with Taylor last year. Martin figures to play a huge role here, but Buxton not being healthy enough to play center might lead the team to finding outside help. Tyler O’Neill is on the trade market and guys like Harrison Bader and Kevin Kiermaier being free agent options.
Even if Buxton is healthy, adding outside help could still be an option. The point is the Twins have a massive question that needs to be answered, and it’s right alongside starting pitching as something that must be addressed.