The Twins have used 47 players this season.
Wait. That sentence was originally written Monday afternoon. By Monday night, when Logan Schafer played, it was 48.
That’s almost two full 25-man rosters, which is not good. The Royals (38 players used) and Tigers (41), who just got done beating up on the Twins, are more representative of what a team might experience during the course of a normal season filled with ups, downs and injuries.
The Twins? They’re still throwing things at the wall to see what sticks, which in a lost season is not a bad short-term plan. In a mostly lost decade, it’s not a good long-term plan.
As such, here’s a question: How many of those 48 players should we consider “locks” to be on the opening day roster in 2017? Sure, there is no such thing as a sure thing. But take “lock” to mean someone that would make you VERY surprised to not see on the roster. Here’s an early list:
Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Ervin Santana, Phil Hughes*, Glen Perkins* and Trevor May*.
That’s it. Seven guys. And three of them have asterisks because it assumes they will be healthy at the start of 2017. Mauer will have two years left on his contract and a no-trade clause. Sano and Kepler have shown enough this season to be penciled into the lineup. Santana is their only reliable starting pitcher. Hughes and Perkins are quite valuable when healthy and both are under contract. May has some of the best stuff on the team and is inexpensive.
Brian Dozier, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Pressly, Eddie Rosario, Taylor Rogers, Brandon Kintzler and Jorge Polanco.
Dozier makes the list of “likely” instead of locks not because of performance (clearly) but because a new regime could decide he’s the Twins’ best trade asset in pursuit of a high-caliber starting pitcher. Gibson has regressed this season but he still figures to be in the rotation. Pressly has appeared in 61 games this season and done a credible job. Rosario has been quite good since returning from the minors.
Rogers has been good enough to be considered a bullpen arm, if not more, in 2017. Kintzler has been a revelation, though the Twins’ shouldn’t make the same mistake they made with Kevin Jepsen and assume he will duplicate his work next season. Polanco will be out of options and seems likely to earn some role.
The other 34 guys. That includes Kurt Suzuki (pending free agent), Eduardo Escobar (could have his role taken by Jorge Polanco) and every other underachieving starting pitcher, young or old, among others.
There should be a pretty significant roster overhaul in the offseason and a ton of roster battles in spring training. Given what looks like an impending regime change, it should be very interesting to see how that happens. The Twins need to figure out what to do long-term at third base, shortstop, catcher and at least one outfield spot. They need to figure out several spots in the starting rotation. They need to figure out several bullpen spots.
Aside from that, they’re set.