During last week's episode of Talk to Contact, Eric brought up an interesting topic. How many spots on the Twins 25-man roster are already locked in before spring training?
In recent years there have been position battles or pitching rotation spots up for grabs. This year there may be some question as to whether a player will fit into the rotation or the bullpen. So how many spots are actually up for grabs as try to complete their roster?
Position Player Locks
Catchers: Kurt Suzuki, Josmil Pinto
1B/DH: Joe Mauer, Kennys Vargas
IF: Brian Dozier, Danny Santana, Trevor Plouffe, Eduardo Escobar
OF: Oswaldo Arcia, Torii Hunter, Aaron Hicks, Jordan Schafer
If the Twins carry a four-man bench, I believe 12 of the 13 roster spots are already taken by the men listed above. Minnesota would have room for one more bench bat and that player might not even be on the 40-man at this point. There have been rumors about the team signing a veteran player to a minor league contract so someone like that could end up with the final roster spot if they don't want to give it to a player already on the 40-man roster.
Starters: Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco, Kyle Gibson
Bullpen: Glen Perkins, Casey Fien, Brian Duensing, Caleb Thielbar, Tim Stauffer
It seems as if the Twins already have four out of their five starting pitchers locked into the rotation. This leaves a group of players fighting for the last rotation spot with some of the players being relegated to the bullpen and the others left out. If the Twins carry a 12-man pitching staff, nine of the slots will be taken by these men.
Undefined: Mike Pelfrey, Trevor May, Tommy Milone, J.R. Graham, Alex Meyer
These five players will be fighting for three spots on the 25-man roster. I don't think Graham sticks at the big league level so he won't be with the Twins organization unless Minnesota can work out a trade with Atlanta. Palfrey will be making a lot of money so he likely begins the year on the roster. May deserves a shot to be on the roster but I don't know if that will be as a starter or reliever. This leaves the other three players fighting for one spot.
Looking at the two lists above it seems as if there is one or two open spots on the 25-man roster before the Twins even think about heading to Fort Myers for spring training. This likely leaves out Alex Meyer, who could be a candidate for a bullpen role to start the year. Paul Molitor has already hinted as much in a recent interview. Former Twins Johan Santana and Francisico Liriano both started their careers as bullpen arms.
The last spot off the bench might be the biggest question mark entering spring training. Prospects like Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, and Eddie Rosario are intriguing but they all need more experience in the minors. This probably means the front office will be deciding between Chris Herrmann and Eduardo Nunez for the final spot. Herrman's versatility means he can play some catcher if needed and he has outfield ability as well.
My vote is for Herrmann but I can see Nunez getting the nod to start the year. I also disappointed with the fact that Meyer looks to be relegated back to Triple-A. His 2014 seasons wasn't outstanding but it's time to test the tires on the Meyer-mobile.