Opening Day is right around the corner, but there’s growing concern that first baseman Alex Kirilloff won’t be ready in time to be part of the action.
Kirilloff is still recovering from wrist surgery that ended his season in August last year, and has been at the forefront of anxiety Minnesota Twins have heading into a season in which expectations weigh heavy.
Carlos Correa returned this offseason on a six-year, $200M deal — the richest ever handed out by the team — and the team traded away Luis Arráez to bolster the starting rotation with Pablo Lopez.
It’s the loss of Arráez that has added pressure to the situation involving Kirilloff. While he wasn’t an outstanding first baseman defensively, Arráez was the batting champion last year and represented the Twins at the All-Star Game.
That’s who was providing depth at first base, but once he was traded away the security at the position left with him. If Kirilloff misses time, there isn’t someone like Arráez to help make up the difference.
We might be approaching such a scenario.
Minnesota Twins give concerning update on Alex Kirilloff
Twins beat writer Do-Hyoung Park passed along word from Derek Falvey that seems to indicate there might be a chance Kirilloff isn’t ready in time for Opening Day.
“Falvey was not committal regarding the Opening Day readiness of Alex Kirilloff, who is still "a little behind our schedule" in his progressions against live pitching, he said. It's depended on his tolerance on a daily basis so far,” Park reported.
It’s nothing definitive, but it’s concerning nonetheless. Things seemed to be trending toward Kirilloff being ready for Opening Day but given the situation at first base it’s probably best to think about the long term plan.
What happens if Kirilloff misses time?
Donovan Solano seems to be at the top of the list to spend time at first base if Kirilloff isn’t ready, and Jose Miranda can hop over from the other corner infield spot. Miranda spent most of his time platooning at first last season, and the Twins could slide Kyle Farmer in at third to make up the difference.
That’s a lot of movement to make up for Kirilloff missing time, which is why there’s so much stress on his health. Minnesota would be able to tread water, but first base is already the weakest position group the team has according to projected WAR, which is why these sorts of concerning updates aren’t going to help Twins fans sleep at night as Opening Day nears.