Quick Reax: Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster
The Minnesota Twins announced their 26-man roster for Opening Day on Monday in advance of Thursday’s opener in Milwaukee against the Brewers.
In addition to the finalizing of the roster, the Twins placed pitcher Edwar Colina on the 10-day injured list with right elbow inflammation and named a five-man taxi squad, as well.
The last bit of intrigue on the position player side revolved around who would make it and likely get significant playing time in left field — a move that was resolved when Brent Rooker was optioned to their alternate training site. That confirmed that Kyle Garlick — and to some extent, Willians Astudillo — would make the roster.
It’s unclear if Garlick will get the lion’s share of playing time in left field, or if it’ll be some sort of time-share between him, Jake Cave and Luis Arraez, but it’s an opportunity for the 29-year-old which might have seemed unlikely coming into spring training.
Garlick trailed Cave and most likely also Alex Kirilloff coming into the spring in terms of the left-field position battle, but hit .297/.310/.730 in 16 spring games (coming into Monday) with six of his 11 hits going for extra bases (five homers, one double).
And while Garlick will get an Opening Day roster spot, fans need to remember it by no means guarantees he’ll be on the roster for the long haul. Tyler Austin made the Twins out of spring training in 2019 and was DFA’d and traded to the San Francisco Giants in the span of about 10 days.
Garlick is a career .214/.276/.414 hitter in 76 MLB plate appearances, but is worth a quick look as a potential contributor, as he’s mauled Triple-A pitching for a .281/.332/.568 slash line with 40 home runs and 43 doubles in just 178 games (645 plate appearances).
Astudillo, meanwhile, hit fairly well all spring and gives the team more flexibility defensively, where he can not only play a little bit in the infield and outfield but also act as the team’s third catcher — freeing up the team to potentially use Mitch Garver and/or Ryan Jeffers in more pinch-hit/designated hitter scenarios if they crop up.
There are really no other surprises on the roster, really.
On the pitching side, Brandon Waddell and Derek Law were both reassigned to minor-league camp. Both looked like they may have had an outside shot of cracking the Opening Day bullpen, but despite strong spring showings, it was a numbers game with only 40-man players making the staff.
There was perhaps some question as to the readiness of J.A. Happ after he was slowed by COVID this spring, but if anything it would seem he might piggyback with Randy Dobnak early on in the season until he is prepared to take on a higher pitch count — if that’s even still a thing.
The taxi squad features five players who all have some MLB experience. Tomas Telis is entering his third season in the organization and is a veteran of 122 MLB games played mostly with the Miami Marlins as a catcher. He’s a career .230/.267/.298 hitter.
JT Riddle has also spent the bulk of his career with the Marlins, and over his 246-game MLB career has hit .222/.261/.355 while playing every defensive position except catcher and pitcher.
Rooker lost out in the battle to start in left field, but according to manager Rocco Baldelli, it was more about his overall game than what he brought to the table offensively.
Brandon Waddell threw 3.1 innings for the Pirates last season, but was especially impressive this spring as he fanned 15 of the 31 batters he faced coming into Monday’s action.
Luke Farrell — son of former MLB pitcher and manager John Farrell — was also impressive, as he tossed 5.1 scoreless innings with eight strikeouts, no walks and just three hits allowed. He’s a veteran of 63.0 big-league innings across four seasons with four teams, and has always brought big strikeout (9.7 K/9), walk (4.9 BB/9) and home-run (1.9 HR/9) numbers to the table in his career. He’s a 6-foot-6 righty who could be especially interesting if he unlocks something to keep the ball in the ballpark or in the strike zone.