It was quite the off-season for the Minnesota Twins’ front office. After a first-round exit from the playoffs, the organization began work on a roster with three openings in the infield, two in the rotation, and uncertainty on the bench. Now over three months since the team last took the field in Minneapolis, the roster has been reshaped.
Shortstop J.J. Hardy was added two days after the conclusion of the World Series, starting pitcher Carl Pavano was retained through arbitration, the Twins allowed Bobby Keppel to leave to Japan, but added reliever Clay Condrey to take his spot, Jim Thome was brought in via free agency to add power to the bench, and the off-season all but came to a close with the signing of All-Star second basemen Orlando Hudson last week.
From an Opening Day payroll of $65 million in 2009 to an expected Opening Day payroll of $96 million in the inaugural season at Target Field, the roster has been drastically reshaped in the short time since the franchise said goodbye to the Metrodome and packed and moved across town.
The additions are almost certainly complete, and the uncertainty is at a minimum. Transactions will still be made up until spring training comes to a close, but Bill Smith, Rob Antony and company have done their damage and the core of the 2010 roster is in place.
When pitchers and catchers workout in two weeks in sunny Florida, Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, and Carl Pavano will makeup the starting rotation. The final spot will be decided in a month-long competition between Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano and Glen Perkins.
Later that week the full squad will begin play, and the entire lineup will be set with the exception of third base. Brendan Harris and Nick Punto will likely compete for that spot. Meanwhile, Alexi Casilla and Matt Tolbert may be fighting to remain on the roster as backup infielders, and Wilson Ramos and Drew Butera will compete to backup Joe Mauer to begin the season while Jose Morales finishes healing from his off-season wrist surgery.
All in all, the roster transition is complete. Competition will ensue when players arrive in Fort Myers, and the stakes will be high as pitchers compete for the final bullpen and rotation spots and position players compete for third base, the final bench spot, and the chance to backup the league’s most valuable player.