Last off-season one of the biggest questions regarding the roster was the bullpen. The Twins would have no Pat Neshek or Boof Bonser, and Matt Guerrier was coming off a poor season by his standards.
A year later the only question that remains is who will win the three current openings. The Twins have often went with twelve pitchers on their pitching staff, and the assumption is that they’ll do the same in their first season at Target Field.
Closer Joe Nathan will be one of four locks for the bullpen as the Twins begin spring training action four months from now. He’ll be joined by Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Jose Mijares.
With four spots determined, the Twins have three to fill and an abundance of options from within the organization. It’s likely that as many as six players will complete for three sports with the losers potentially out of options in Minnesota.
Jesse Crain is one option, and the Twins will have a decision to make on him in the coming months. A poor start to the season saw him demoted to Triple-A, but Crain rebounded and played a key role down the stretch. The powerful right-hander is arbitration eligible and the Twins will need to determine what he’s worth.
Outside of Crain the Twins will have several other options. Ron Mahay is a free agent left-handed specialist whom the Twins acquired down the stretch, and Bobby Keppel saw a lot of time in 2009 out of the bullpen. The Twins also have at least one minor league option in Anthony Slama. The youngster pitched well in the organization this past year and may be given a close look.
Injuries kept both Neshek and Bonser off the field last season, and while it’s hard to know what they might be able to provide in 2010, they’ll both be given the shot to show the organization this spring.
Free agency doesn’t seem to be needed this off-season in regards to the bullpen as the Twins have several options to compete for three openings. Decisions will need to be made, but it’ll come down to performance and health in March.