4 players who could steal Opening Day roster spots for the Twins

A few guys could use Spring Training to earn a 26-man roster spot by Opening Day.

Chicago Cubs v Minnesota Twins
Chicago Cubs v Minnesota Twins / David Berding/GettyImages
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Louie Varland

This one feels a little less like the others because we've seen Louie Varland on the active roster in the past. He didn't do enough to fully earn the fifth starter spot in the rotation, but he's not out of the running to do that this spring if he can put together a convincing argument.

On paper, Minnesota trading for Anthony DeSclafani seemingly boxed Varland out of the rotation but he's going to get a chance to prove himself down in Fort Myers. Last year Varland finished the year 4-3 with a 4.63 ERA and a 0.5 WAR -- al of which was better than what his main competition managed in San Francisco.

DeSclafani posted a 4.88 ERA alongside a 4-8 record and a 0.2 WAR with the Giants, who were an admittedly worse team than the Twins but the results nonetheless count. There's upside with him, though, as injuries have hampered his production over the last few years and he's only three years removed from logging over 160 innings while turning in a a pair of complete game shutouts.

If the Twins can get that sort of performance out of DeSclafani this year it would make the Jorge Polanco trade worth it. Adjacently, if Varland can challenge himself to live up to that sort of level, the Twins will be in a prime position with a pair of back-end starters capable of effectively replacing Kenta Maeda's lost production.

Varland's ceiling seems to be as a No. 4/No. 5 starter, but a solid performance in Spring Training could earn him a spot in the bullpen. The point is he's firmly on the bubble with more ways of making the Opening Day roster than missing it -- what happens next is up to him.

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