Twins Looking for Hope in New Roster

Kevin Sethre, staff writer

The Minnesota Twins are hoping to rebound after a disappointing 2021 season. They were expected to compete with the Chicago White Sox for a third straight American League Central title, but a slow start and injuries to key players doomed them. They finished in last place in the division with a 73-89 record. Over the offseason, the Twins made several moves in an effort to bolster their roster. 

After the MLB lockout ended in March, they traded their catcher Mitch Garver to the Texas Rangers for pitching prospect Ronny Henriquez and third baseman Isaiah Kiner-Falefa, who they then included in a trade with the New York Yankees. Kiner-Falefa, third baseman Josh Donaldson, and catcher Ben Rortvedt in exchange for catcher Gary Sanchez and third baseman Gio Urshela.  Sanchez has been one of the best power-hitting catchers in Major League Baseball over the past few seasons. Urshela had a solid 2021 season and finished with a .261 batting average and 14 home runs in 116 games. That same day, the Twins received pitchers Sonny Gray and Francis Peguero from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for 19-year-old pitching prospect Chase Petty.  Gray had a down year in 2021, finishing with a 7-9 record and a 3.61 ERA, but he has had a good career, during which time he has made two All-Star appearances.

The biggest acquisition of the offseason came on March 22, when they signed free-agent shortstop Carlos Correa. Correa had spent the previous seven seasons of his career with the Houston Astros, and he found a lot of success there. After winning the Rookie of the Year award in 2015, he made two All-Star appearances. Last season, he finished with a .279 batting average, a fantastic .850 OPS, 26 home runs and 92 runs batted in. He also came fifth in MVP voting and won a Gold Glove.

Joe Ryan, who came to the Twins in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays last season, will be the starting pitcher on Opening Day, and the rest of the starting rotation should be solid.  Gray is 31, but he should still have some good seasons ahead of him. Dylan Bundy, who came to the Twins from the Los Angeles Angels during free agency, had a rough 2021 season where he finished with a 2-9 record and a 6.06 ERA, but he will be hoping to pitch as well as he did in 2020 when he went 6-3 with a 3.29 ERA. Bailey Ober and Randy Dobnak will round it out.

This team has plenty of hitters between Correa, Sanchez, talented young outfielder Alex Kirilloff and Byron Buxton, who had an amazing start to the season at the plate before an injury limited him to only 61 games. He is one of the best defensive outfielders in the league, so having him on the field on a daily basis would be a huge bonus.

While it seems unlikely for the Twins to challenge the favored White Sox for the division title, if key players can stay healthy, they do have a chance to make a push for a playoff spot as a wild card team.