We’re just weeks away from the Minnesota Twins fully reporting to Spring Training, but there’s still work that needs to be done on the roster.
Minnesota waited months to start making moves, but finally opened the floodgates last week. All-Star Jorge Polanco was traded to Seattle in exchange for four players and cash, some of which the Twins used to sign Carlos Santana. Before the week was over the team had added journeyman reliever Jay Jackson as well, meaning there are more players ready to be added to the lineup than available roster spots.
At least two 40-man roster spots need to be cleared to add Santana and Jackson, and the question is who will be on the unlucky end of the deal?
3 ways the Twins can free up some 40-man roster space for Carlos Santana and Jay Jackson
Waive Bubba Thompson and Daniel Duarte
Minnesota’s 40-man roster feels pretty solid the way it is, and it’s hard to find any sort of wiggle room even at the margins. Bubba Thompson and Daniel Duarte might find themselves on the outside looking in simply because they were the last guys in the door before the Twins started making bigger free agency moves.
A case could be made to keep either player, as they each have lottery ticket upside that Minnesota loves to gamble on. Thompson was clocked as one of the fastest players in the league last year and could fill the Michael A. Taylor role in terms of adding defensive depth in center behind Byron Buxton.
Thompson can play all three outfield spots, which also bodes well for him but also runs the risk of making him a redundancy. At that point the Twins have to ask themselves if he offers more than Willi Castro or Nick Gordon — neither of whom are getting DFA’d over Thompson.
Duarte is an underrated reliever who isn’t going to blow anyone away with strikeouts but has the stuff to be a reliable middle innings guy out of the bullpen. Injuries hampered his development with the Reds, but he showed enough for them to protect him in the Rule 5 Draft a year ago. The problem there is that the Twins have one of the deepest bullpens in baseball, and Duarte is on his third team in a few months after having been claimed from Texas.
One upside here would be that neither Thompson nor Duarte were lighting the market on fire when they were available, which could mean the Twins have a chance to outright them to Triple-A if they clear waivers. That’s a gamble, but it might be the safest one to make in order to fit Santana and Jackson on the roster.