The three-game series with the White Sox starting Tuesday at Target Field will be the final time that fans will ever see Luis Arraez, Joe Ryan and Jhoan Duran in Twins uniforms.
Oh, the players will probably be back next year. Those uniforms won't.
The Twins' offseason will include some substantial and noticeable changes, and not just to a roster that fell well short of its goal of winning the AL Central. The ballpark, the team's logos and the winter calendar will be distinctly different in 2023 — starting with the clothing on the players' back.
"Our uniforms are going to evolve and take a step toward the future. There is always a sensitivity to paying respect to the history and the heritage of the franchise," team president Dave St. Peter said. "But there's also a desire to move it forward, much like we did in the mid-'80s."
Will fans appreciate a new look? "Well, that reaction is always in the eye of the beholder," he said of a topic that always generates debate among fans of any sports team.
The uniforms, which are complete but won't be revealed until after the season ends, are just the most obvious aspect of a general rebranding of the 62-year-old franchise, St. Peter said, one that will include "tweaks or in some cases, more than that" to the team's brand identification: the lettering, the logos, the look of the team. The colors won't change — "This franchise has embraced the base colors of red, white and blue since 1901," when it was the Washington Senators, St. Peter pointed out — but he believes a new look is well-timed.
"We're in a little bit of a different world today, and we've seen several brands go through a refresh. The Padres are a great example — they went with a refresh that actually reached back to their origins, but they did it in a really bold, dynamic way," St. Peter said of San Diego's re-embrace of its brown-and-gold, swinging-friar history. "It wasn't just a cookie-cutter of what Steve Garvey wore in 1984. And our goals are the same. How do you pay tribute to that history and heritage, but do it in a very modern way?"
The team also will introduce a special City Connect uniform, a distinctive and nontraditional look that will emphasize some aspect of Minnesota culture, sometime next summer, but the team won't wear them until 2024. City Connects have been wildly popular with fans in other cities, and the Twins hoped to include theirs next year, but MLB is staggering their introduction with just a half-dozen or so each season.
Minnie and Paul, their handshake across the Mississippi having symbolized the Twin Cities since 1961, will still be part of the franchise's icons and will continue to loom over center field in Target Field. But that logo, too, will be "tweaked," St. Peter said.
The team's offseason schedule, disrupted by COVID-19, has been restored, he said, with the winter caravan across the upper Midwest planned for mid-January, the first in-person Diamond Awards banquet since 2020 set for Jan. 26, and TwinsFest to follow on Jan 27-28. The festival will be different, St. Peter said, and will only partly be staged at Target Field.
"We're working on some changes to what TwinsFest means, and how we can engage our players with the community," he said. "There will be changes to the scope and the lineup, doing some things a little differently to expose our brand to younger demographics. But we also understand that there is a core group of people who love to gather here and speak the gospel of Twins baseball every January."
While at TwinsFest, fans will notice a few big changes at Target Field. There will be cranes on the field from November to early March, installing new scoreboards, including a huge video board in left field that is 76 % larger than the current one. The $30 million project, with costs shared by the Twins and the Minnesota Ballpark Authority, will upgrade and in most cases expand every video board in the ballpark, with some new video hardware added.
A new master-control room was added this summer in preparation for the new technology.
"It's our 14th year in Target Field next year," St. Peter said. "Video boards, they tell us, have a shelf life of about 10 years, so we've probably squeezed a little more use out of them. But we can't get replacement parts anymore."
The cranes will require the ballpark to be resodded before next season, too. But the most noticeable change next season will be the ever-growing North Loop Green, a 38-story tower across the street from Target Field that will include apartments, condos and offices, many with views of the playing field. The project, planned to open around Opening Day 2024, has been under construction all summer, but will be visible beyond left field by next season.
"It's certainly going to change the view of the ballpark for a good chunk of our fans," not to mention allow some to sit on balconies and watch games from home, St. Peter said. He even foresees a day that players and staff members buy or rent living space in the building, and simply cross the street to come to work.
The team is still studying, he said, the unforeseen effects that such a large tower may have, "from wind currents to glare from the sun, things like that." And while the team, nor its Pohlad family owners, have no involvement with the development and no financial stake, St. Peter said, "we're excited about it. It'll be great for the area around Target Field and downtown in general."