A Full Forty – Dissecting the 40-Man Roster (Position Players)

On Monday I did a quick run down of the pitchers currently on the Twins 40-man roster.  Today I will take a look at the position players, including five catchers, nine infielders, and seven outfielders.  Several of these players will not be on the roster when the Twins head north to start the season.

Catchers (Age, Position, Highest 2012 Level)
Drew Butera – 29, 3rd Catcher, MLB – If Butera is still on the 40-man roster when the Twins break camp, the Twins are doing it wrong.  With Mauer and Doumit handling most of the catching duties, the Twins’ third catcher should be more versatile than Butera (and have some value as a bench bat), pitching ability notwithstanding.

Ryan Doumit – 31, C/RF/DH, MLB – Ryan Doumit might never pass for an average defensive catcher, but his ability to slot in at RF and DH allow the Twins to move Mauer and Morneau around and if he hits like he did in 2012 (.275/.320/.461, 18 HR and 75 RBI) the Twins will continue to reap the benefits of his very reasonable contract extension.

Chris Herrmann – 25, C/LF, MLB – Herrmann lucked into a September call-up when Mauer and Doumit were both a little nicked up and he struggled offensively while he was up.  Herrmann was off to a pretty decent Arizona Fall League performance but an injury ultimately derailed his season in Peoria.  Herrmann is pretty rough as a catcher, but he has a great arm, and like Doumit, has the ability with the bat to play well as a corner outfielder.

Joe Mauer – 29, C/DH/1B, MLB – Joe Mauer’s 2012 went a long way to erase 2011 from fan’s memories.  He led the league in OBP and if you don’t consider his 2009 MVP season, Mauer was back to being Joe Mauer.  He will probably never hit 29 home runs again, especially in Target Field, but the Twins’ flexibility with Mauer has allowed them to keep his bat in the lineup almost every day.

Josmil Pinto – 23, C/DH, AA – Pinto has virtually no shot to make the 25-man roster having barely played any ball above High-A.  The Twins like his bat, but if he’s going to stick as a catcher he’s going to have to catch a lot of breaks.  As Aaron Gleeman said in a recent podcast (I’m paraphrasing heavily), if he’s already splitting time at DH in the lower levels, he could easily be stuck at 1B or DH by the time he’s ready to put on a MLB uniform.

Old Man Jamey Carroll, Photo Credit: CapitalBabs

Jamey Carroll – 38, Utility Infielder, MLB – At 38 years-old Carroll is long past his prime as a baseball player, that the Twins might have to use him as a starting infielder in 2013 gives you a pretty good idea about how bad they’ve been at producing middle infield talent with their farm system in the recent past.  Carroll lived up (mostly) to his solid defensive and on-base percentage track record in 2012, but if this team is really building toward the future, Carroll needs to be relegated to utility infield duties by mid-season to give the youngsters more opportunity.

Brian Dozier – 25, SS, MLB – 2012 started off so well for Dozier.  Coming off a red-hot 2011 campaign, Dozier had a great spring and after crushing the ball to start the year in Triple-A the Twins called him up to be their everyday shortstop.  From there things went poorly.  Dozier hung on for 84 games hitting just (.234/.271/.332) while playing sub-par defense before the Twins sent him back down to Triple-A.  Dozier wouldn’t be the first MLB regular who failed in his first Big League opportunity, but some of the luster has worn off and he’ll need another strong spring – offensively and defensively – to play his way back into the good graces of upper management.  He should be on the 25-man roster to start the season, if for no other reason than to make sure 2012 was not a fluke.

Eduardo Escobar – 23, Utility Infielder, MLB – Escobar was obtained from the White Sox in the deal that sent Fransico Liriano to Chicago.  Escobar played sparingly with the Sox over the past two seasons playing all over the diamond (3B, 2B, SS, and LF), but he isn’t a true shortstop.   Between Dozier, Carroll and Florimon, Escobar is probably the odd man out, starting the year in Rochester.

Thomas Field – 25, MI, RF, MLB – Claimed off of waivers from the Colorado Rockies, Field has primarily played shortstop in the minor leagues, but has spent time at second base as well.  He doesn’t have a big bat, even in the Minor Leagues (.264/.359/.414 across five seasons), but he seems to be proficient with the glove.  I don’t expect him to make the 25-man roster, and he’s a guy I could easily see the Twins removing from the 40-man roster to make room for a free agent signing. EDIT: Per MLB Trade Rumors, Thomas Field has been claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim.

Pedro Florimon – 25, SS, MLB – Florimon is entering his second full season in the Twins organization after being claimed from the Baltimore Orioles at the conclusion of the 2011 season.  Florimon played in 43 games with the Twins and hit poorly but showed flashes of spectacular defense, as is Florimon’s MO.  After suffering through a combination of Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Trevor Plouffe, and Brian Dozier at SS the past couple of seasons the Twins like Florimon’s defensive upside, but he’ll have to hit better than .219 to beat out Brian Dozier and earn the starting spot at short.

Justin Morneau – 31, 1B/DH, MLB – Entering the final year of his 6 year/$80 million dollar contract, Morneau will earn $14 million dollars in 2013.  Morneau finally seemed to put his concussion behind him in the second half of 2012 and when he’s healthy he is still a valuable offensive weapon.  He plays above average defense at first base, and if he has another strong half of a year and the Twins are out of contention by the All-Star break, the Twins could easily flip him for a prospect this summer.

Chris Parmelee – 24, 1B/RF, MLB – Parmelee does not have much of anything left to prove in Triple-A after hitting a blistering .338/.457/.645 batting line in 2012, but he’s yet to have sustained success with the Minnesota Twins.  He had a red hot September in 2011, but with almost 3x as many plate appearances in 2012 he hit like a Pedro Florimon, with a little more power.  The Twins will need to find regular at-bats for Parmelee in 2013, but with a crowded outfield, Mauer and Morneau splitting time at first, and a solid rotation at DH, there just is no room for Parmelee on the roster as it is currently constructed.  I do not expect the Twins to trade Parmelee, especially with Morneau unlikely to return in 2014, and Parmelee might have to log a few more months in Rochester before a spot opens up for him on this Twins team.

Trevor Plouffe – 26, 3B, MLB – Was Plouffe’s six-week power surge for real?  Did his thumb injury keep him from succeeding at the tail end of last season?  Or was the real Trevor Plouffe something in between, a guy with questionable defensive ability and occasional power to left field?  Terry Ryan said on Monday night in an interview on 1500ESPN that the Twins want to bring in some third base competition for Plouffe this winter, but the Twins have bigger holes at shortstop and in the pitching rotation, so it seems highly unlikely that that Twins will bring in anyone that could really threaten Plouffe’s hold on the starting third base job.

Daniel Santana – 22, SS/2B, High-A – Santana is widely considered as the best shortstop prospect in the Twins system, but without any playing time above High-A, he’s not making the 25-man roster out of Spring Training.  Santana could move quickly through the system in 2013, probably starting the year in AA, and if he continues to play well and hit he could easily be in Rochester before the season’s end.  Santana just turned 22 years old, so even if he is not Big League ready until 2015, he’d still be just 25 years old.  A lot of upside here, but like many of the Twins’ best prospects, he’s a long way from donning the Twins uniform.

Oswaldo Arcia – 21, RF, AA – Arcia took another big step forward in 2012 posting one of the best batting lines of his career in a full season at Double-A.  Along with Double-A teammate Aaron Hicks, Arcia should be roaming the outfield in Rochester to start 2013, but if the Twins deal Span, Revere or Willingham he could potentially be looking at a MLB tryout in Spring Training.  As a corner outfielder he’ll need to continue to hit at Triple-A to retain his prospect value, but if he succeeds he could be a Twins regular as early as 2014.

Joe Benson – 24, CF/RF, AAA – 2012 was a lost year for Benson.  After a solid 2011 season he was rewarded with a September appearance with the Twins and while he didn’t light the world on fire, he flashed his defensive value and speed, along with a beautiful head of hair.  In 2012 Benson started the year at Triple-A, struggled and was demoted to Double-A, struggled more, was injured, rehabbed in the Rookie League and at High-A, and then struggled again at Double-A before ending the year back on the disabled list with a knee injury.  I think the Twins will put Benson back at Double-A to start 2013, but he could quickly join Arcia and Hicks in what would be a really fun outfield for the Rochester Red Wings.

Aaron Hicks – 23, CF, AA – Formerly the Twins #1 prospect, Hicks was rated as high as the 19th best prospect in all of baseball by Baseball America before the 2010 season, but by 2012 he had fallen all the way off the Top 100 list.  Then, as if motivated by his removal from the list, Hicks had a great 2012 and vaulted his way back up Twins prospect lists and sits firmly behind Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton as one of the Twins’ best Minor League ballplayers.  Hicks hit .286/.384/.460 in 129 games in Double-A last year, and he also hit well from both sides of the plate, something he’d struggled to do for the past couple years, so much so that there was talk that Hicks give up his switch hitting ways.  Hicks combines a high-upside bat with spectacular defense and a great arm.  He likely has all the defensive ability of Ben Revere, but with a bat that could profile well even as a corner outfielder.  If the Twins move Willingham, Span or Revere this winter, Hicks is likely to be the best fit to fill in, but I would be a little more comfortable if he had some time in Triple-A to build on his 2012 success before handing him a starting job in Minnesota.

Darin Mastroianni – 27, CF/RF/LF, MLB – I feel like a broken record here, but if the Twins move one of their starting outfielders this winter, Mastroianni is probably the immediate beneficiary in terms of playing time.  While he’s perfectly suited in his role as a fourth outfielder, he would likely be exposed offensively if given an increased workload.  His defense is good enough for him to play everyday, but his bat would suffer.  Mastroianni’s speed and versatility give him an advantage over Chris Parmelee for a 25-man roster spot, but if the Twins are dead set on finding room for Parmelee, Mastroianni could be squeezed.

Ben Revere – 24, RF, MLB – A year ago Twins fans were clamoring for Revere to earn a full time spot in the Twins outfield, and despite his weak arm, the Twins installed him as their everyday right fielder.  Revere has the range and defensive ability to play center field, but Ron Gardenhire is a manager that frequently defers to his veterans, and even after another year of watching Revere make spectacular plays in the outfield, Gardenhire is unlikely to swap roles with Span and Revere.  The biggest takeaway from 2012 for Revere was his offensive improvement.  He’s always going to be a guy who’s batting average will sit around .300 with plenty of infield hits, and he won’t take a lot of walks, but if he continues to develop extra base power, he’ll be a Denard Span lite (which the Twins would be happy to have in center field if – again- they move Span this winter).

Denard Span – 28, CF, MLB – Span has been the Twin most frequently listed on MLB Trade Rumors, and if the Twins are really looking to bring back a quality starting pitcher, his team friendly contract makes him the most likely candidate to go.  After battling concussion issues in 2011, Denard Span played 128 games in a mostly healthy 2012 campaign and his offensive season was almost identical to his career averages.  The Twins hold a team option on Denard Span for 2015, so if the Twins keep him around, he could still be with the team when they have a realistic opportunity to contend for the AL Central.  Span is a valuable player even if the Twins are bad again in 2013, but with so many holes in their starting rotation it is hard to see Span sticking around until Opening Day.

Josh Willingham – 33, LF, MLB -2012 was a great year for Josh Willingham.  His best as a major leaguer and he was rewarded with a Silver Slugger for his 35 home runes, 110 RBIs and a .260/.366/.524 batting line.  Willingham is unlikely to repeat those numbers in 2013, but even if he’s the player he was in Washington and Oakland, he’s a valuable corner outfielder and the Twins best power hitter (though a healthy Justin Morneau could certainly give him a run for his money).  Willingham is likely locked into his left field role again in 2013, even if the Twins move Span and bring up a talented youngster.  He doesn’t play great defense, but as Babs likes to say, it looks like he’s trying really hard out there, and effort goes a long way in earning forgiveness from the fans (something Delmon Young never got the hang of).

So there they are, TWENTY ONE TWENTY position players.  The Twins are unlikely to carry five catchers on the roster once Spring Training breaks, and of the five, Drew Butera is the most likely candidate to be removed.  Of their nine infielders, I think the Twins could remove Escobar or Field without too much concern of another team claiming either player (or not), and of the two, I think Field is the most likely to be waived.  It would be tough for the Twins to sneak any of their outfielders through waivers and these seven are likely to remain unchanged in the near future.  Mastroianni could become expendable if either Arcia or Hicks join the 25-man roster, but that is likely to happen only if the Twins move one of the current MLB incumbents, likely Span or Willingham, should that scenario arise.


9 Replies to “A Full Forty – Dissecting the 40-Man Roster (Position Players)”

  1. Great rundown, Eric. My only quibble would be describing Chris Herrmann as “pretty rough” as a catcher. Admittedly, I didn’t watch much of his Sept. call-up, but I did find him to be perfectly adequate — even above-average at some points — in New Britain last season. In 2012, he threw out 44% of base stealers, and his lowest percentage in the minors in any year is 36 %. Also keep in mind that he was dealing (for the most part) with new pitchers during his time in MN.

    Not to say he’s superior defensively to Drew Butera, but I think he’s at least adequate.

  2. Andrew,
    My thinking was that as a part time catcher, who primarily played infield and spent some time in the outfield before really become a 2/3 time catcher in 2010, that he still has a long ways to go defensively. His arm certainly helps him throw runners out, and his AA CS% are very encouraging, but in the Eastern League in 2012, five teams had a CS% north of 40%, so he is not that far ahead of the curve. More than likely he is benefiting from base runners that are still learning their base stealing skills. However, I do not think he’s likely to be as bad as Ryan Doumit behind the dish, and his bat and positional flexibility more than make up for any rawness he has as a catcher. At 25 he isn’t exactly a young prospect anymore, but I’d like to see him log some more innings above AA before I would be willing to say he’s an average defensive catcher.
    However, you’ve likely seen a great deal more of him than I have, so when he performs well in Rochester I’ll be more willing to accept his success as skill based rather than a sample size fluctuation.

  3. I have no idea what the Twins were thinking when they added Pinto to the 40-man. Just seems totally unnecessary.

    Pretty much everyone assumes that Justin Morneau will be playing out the final year of his contract and then move on (unless the Twins find someone willing to trade for him). I’ve been wondering lately, though, if that’s necessarily true. I could see the Twins try to negotiate a team-friendly two year extension if Morneau and his agent would go for it, without a limited trade provision. That might actually make him a more valuable trade chip while removing the urgency to do a deal during the season before he walks as a FA. Of course, that would also allow the Twins to retain the option of trading Parmelee instead.

    Let me also pose one more question that’s been on my mind lately: If you were the Braves, Rays or Reds (apparently the most likely potential trade partners with pitchers to send to the Twins), would you give up better pitchers for a package built around Span, Revere, or one of the “MLB-ready” outfielders like Hicks or Arcia? Everyone just assumes Span is the guy out of that group that other teams would want, but I’m not so sure. Of course, it’s also possible that in order to get the pitching Terry Ryan wants, he’d have to give up more than one of those guys anyway.

  4. Jim,
    I find it hard to imagine the Twins hanging on to Morneau unless they’re really not sure about Parmelee. I’d need to be able to get Morneau for 2/20 or better to want to keep him around, especially when you have a Parmelee who will cost just 1 million for those same two years, and could occupy 1B for the next 4-6 years. But I agree that if you can sign Morneau to a team friendly 2 year deal, you definitely have more trade leverage. But I don’t see the Twins signing him just to deal him away in the near future, that doesn’t seem to be their operating style.

    If I am looking to make a deal with the Twins, and I have a young pitcher I am going to wan Span + MLB Ready Outfielder. If the Twins are trading Revere I think it takes him, and MLB Ready type, and then another B-/C+ type prospect. Revere’s limited offensive upside hurts him against Span. I think it makes more sense to move Span and then Arcia because Arcia isn’t a center fielder and his left handed bat gets lost in the Twins lineup. Because even if the Twins move Span and Arcia, the Twins still have Mauer, Morneau (at least one more year), Parmelee, and Revere from the left side. And then they could go Revere, Jamey Carroll (ideally Mauer in the 2 hole, but Gardy’d never go for that), Mauer, Willingham, Morneau, Plouffe, Parmelee. So that’s a nice LRLRLRL at the top of the line up, forcing teams to burn a LOOGY for just one batter, or be willing to risk a skilled Twins hitter teeing off on them.
    Another outside the box scenario, especially with Terry Ryan harping about someone pushing Plouffe at 3B, what if the Twins pulled a Detroit and pushed Morney over to 3B to free up 1B for Parmelee? Sacrifice more defense, but you can keep two excellent defenders in the OF (Revere and Mastroianni or MLB Ready mid-season callup Aaron Hicks). I don’t see it happening, but if the Twins want to keep Morneau, find ABs for Parmelee and have a solid OF defense, it could work.

  5. Honestly, I’m not sold on Parmelee as the 1B for the next several years. I guess that’s one reason I’m looking for rationale to keep Morneau around a couple more years until someone like Sano or Vargas might be ready. I don’t see them trying him at 3B though. He’s never played it, to my knowledge, and I don’t think you want a guy with concussion issues diving after balls at 3B. Maybe Parmelee could learn the position? Probably not. I still think it’s worth a look at Mauer over there, but that’s not in the cards either. The 2/20 figure you mentioned is kind of what I had in mind, too. I just have no idea if that’s even remotely realistic.

  6. I guess with Parmelee it all depends on his bat transitioning to (as Bert would say) the Big League level. He’s left handed, so he can’t play 3B, and I like the idea of Mauer at 3B, especially since we know he has more than enough arm strength to wing the ball across the diamond. And if Ron Gardenhire knew what he was doing, he could have a nice Platoon with Plouffe and Mauer at 3B, moving Doumit in at catcher when Mauer is at 3B (presumable with a RHP on the mound), and Doumit hits best against RHP as LHB.
    Look out Terry Ryan, Knuckleballs is taking your job!

  7. For some reason, I was thinking Parmelee hit left but threw right, like Morneau (and me, for that matter), but yeah obviously being a lefty limits his flexibility. It’s wrong for anyone to just assume Mauer could even be an adequate 3B at the MLB level because it’s just not that easy. I’d sure like to know whether he could play the position, though. It would open up so many more options. Of course, they probably can’t even have him try to pick up ground balls at 3B without 50 people reporting/tweeting that “the Twins are moving Mauer to 3B!”

  8. I’m a Parmelee type, hitting right but throwing left. So I get the bad side of the platoon and can only play 1B. My upside is limited though, as my bat has yet to break through above 3rd grade ball.

  9. Wow, you got your series posted just in time… With Field getting removed and claimed by the Angels, the roster is now a not-so-full 39.

    That said, I really don’t get why they filled up the 40 man if they knew they were going to want to cut it to 39 in order to make room for a Rule 5 pick, which we have to assume is the reason they tried to pass Field through waivers.