NASHVILLE – One hallmark of the Twins last season, besides their exceptional pitching, was the depth of their roster, which helped them withstand injuries and underperformance by their top players.
There is a chance that depth could take a hit this offseason.
The Twins will enter next season with a lower payroll and several of their veteran players, including Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler, are coming up in trade talks. If the Twins want to make an external addition on their roster, parting with veteran players may be the route they choose.
"I think on the position player side, we have a few more guys that are closer to major league-ready that could be depth right from the get-go than maybe we had a couple years ago," Derek Falvey, the Twins' president of baseball operations, said Tuesday from the winter meetings. "We had that this year too, I felt like, when we knew Royce [Lewis] was coming back, before Matt Wallner became a big leaguer, Eddy Julien."
The Twins had Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon and Jose Miranda starting in their infield on Opening Day 2023 with Trevor Larnach in left field. The offense surged with Lewis, Wallner and Julien in the second half of the season.
Austin Martin was added to the 40-man roster last month and he will compete for playing time in center field. Brooks Lee, a first-round pick in 2022, finished the season at Class AAA St. Paul and he's a switch hitter who can play multiple positions in the infield. Jair Camargo, another addition to the 40-man roster, gives the Twins a third catcher.
Even if the roster skews younger for the upcoming season, Falvey doesn't think it will necessarily come at the expense of the club's depth.
"Some of that depth comes together a lot closer to spring training sometimes," Falvey said. "I wouldn't rule out additions there. When did Donovan [Solano] walk into the clubhouse? Like a week into spring training or whatever it was. I think sometimes that's just the way it plays out, even with trades. I would probably reserve judgment with that."
Tigers have high expectations for Maeda
The Detroit Tigers finished nine games behind the Twins in the American League Central Division last season and they're hoping Kenta Maeda will help them close the gap.
"I've watched him from the other side, and I've watched him be really good," Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. "I've seen him pitch on the biggest stage in the World Series. I've seen him dominate a young lineup with his fastball-split combo and an occasional slider. It meant a lot to me that he signed here, trusting that we're trying to win."
Maeda made three starts against the Tigers last season, yielding a 2.40 ERA in 15 innings with 18 strikeouts and four walks.
• Twins tickets for all home spring training and regular season games, along with Twinsfest, will be on sale starting at 10 a.m. Wednesday. One unique part is a stretch of 10 home games from April 8-25, the Twins are selling single-game tickets only in the main level and outfield mezzanine. Season ticket holders with seats in the ballpark's terrace level will receive complimentary lower-level seats for those 10 games. Terrace level seats will become available only if the main level and outfield mezzanine are sold out.
• Carlos Correa, who was bothered by plantar fasciitis for most of last season, is progressing as well as the Twins hoped in his offseason workouts. "Felt like he's really turned a corner and he'll continue to do some of his baseball activity," Falvey said.
• Cleveland won the No. 1 pick in the 2024 MLB draft lottery on Tuesday. Cincinnati, Colorado, Oakland and the Chicago White Sox round out the top five. The Twins, who were ineligible for the lottery because they made the playoffs, hold the No. 21 pick.
• The Hall of Fame is hosting an exhibition game, the Hall of Fame East-West Classic, featuring more than 24 former Black major league players in honor of the Negro Leagues on May 25. Former Twins pitcher LaTroy Hawkins is one of the players who has committed to playing in the game.