After an offseason that saw the return of Carlos Correa and the exit of Luis Arraez, the Minnesota Twins have more than a few questions left to answer as Spring Training arrives.
Losing Arraez opens up a bit of a hole at first base, where the onus now falls on Alex Kirilloff. The problem there is Kirilloff is coming back from wrist surgery after an injury that ended his 2022 season in early August. If he’s not healthy, or if he re-injures his wrist, the Twins are in an instant bind with what to do at first without Arraez to rotate in.
Then there’s the quesiton of what to do with the pitching staff. Minnesota has as many as seven potential starters to fit into the rotation, and could carry six starters into Opening Day. It seems clear who is at the top of the rotation but things get a little murkier on days where Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, and Pablo Lopez aren’t on the mound.
Speaking of pitching, the Twins bullpen remains a massive question mark heading into the season. While FanGraphs ranks it among the best in the league based on potential, fans have an easy arguement — and a lot of trauma — to the contrary. Most of the bullpen’s woes were heavily influenced by the inability for starters to make it deep into games, but there’s still the question of whether Minnesota will add an arm to the pen before the season starts or roll with the unit as it is.
In fact, let’s start there.
Will Twins add a reliever to the bullpen, and do they need to?
A two part quesiton, but one half that informs the other.
There’s a lot of anxiety among fans about the bullpen heading into the season, but there are some capable arms who could be in for bounce back seasons.
Jhoan Duran is a stud, but Griffin Jax is still young and developing, as are Jovani Moran and Cole Sands. There’s much hope that Jorge Lopez can tap back into being the All-Star closer he was with the Orioles, and all is not yet lost with Emilio Pagán. There still seems to be something missing from the Twins bullpen, which could be fixed by adding Matt Moore (who remains available as a top veteran option).
Given that the team passed on Andrew Chafin, Alex Reyes, and Michael Fulmer on reasonable deals it begs the question of whether the team thinks it needs to add anyone.
Then again, the Twins could essentially be adding a reliever by getting more out of one they already have. Jorge Alcalá stepping up as a key member of the bullpen would be a huge addition without needing to add to the payroll by bringing in someone like Moore.
Alcalá is coming off elbow surgery, but he gave the Twins almost 60 innings of relief work in his first true season with the team in 2021. He wasn’t lights out like Duran was, but there was enough there to think Minnesota has another potential star reliever if he Alcalá can develop this season.