Home Healthy Tips Twins 2024 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and how healthy Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton could help – CBS Sports

Twins 2024 season preview: Projected lineup, rotation and how healthy Carlos Correa, Byron Buxton could help – CBS Sports

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The streak is lastly over. The Minnesota Twins snapped their North American professional sports activities document 18-game postseason dropping streak final yr, and so they received a playoff spherical as well. They swept the Toronto Blue Jays within the Wild Card Collection earlier than dropping to the Houston Astros within the ALDS. It was Minnesota’s first postseason win since 2004 and first postseason sequence win since 2002.

The Twins adopted their postseason win with a reasonably low-key offseason. AL Cy Younger runner-up Sonny Grey left as a free agent, as did Kenta Maeda, and stalwart infielder Jorge Polanco was traded for pitching depth. Payroll was slashed from $153.7 million final Opening Day to a projected $126.8 million in 2024 (per FanGraphs) partially as a result of uncertainty of the Bally Sports activities state of affairs.

“Clearly you miss the blokes while you lose them, particularly good gamers like Sonny and Kenta,” supervisor Rocco Baldelli informed the Star Tribune final month. “They are not guys that you just’re simply going to — in a singular sense — exchange. However it’s a must to discover other ways to nonetheless win, and we now have methods to do this.”

Even with these departures, the case could be made the Twins are the most effective and most gifted crew in an AL Central that perennially ranks as MLB’s weakest division. Are they pretty much as good as they could possibly be? Nearly definitely not given the payroll discount, however the Twins ought to be a aggressive membership with an opportunity to repeat as division champs. Let’s preview their upcoming season.

Win complete projection, odds

  • 2023 document: 87-75 (received AL Central)
  • 2024 SportsLine win complete over/below: 87.5
  • World Collection odds (by way of Sportsline): +2000

Projected lineup

  1. 2B Edouard Julien, LHB
  2. 3B Royce Lewis, RHB
  3. SS Carlos Correa, RHB
  4. RF Max Kepler, LHB
  5. CF Byron Buxton, RHB
  6. 1B Carlos Santana, SHB
  7. LF Matt Wallner, LHB
  8. C Ryan Jeffers, RHB
  9. DH Alex Kirilloff, LHB

Baldelli and the Twins determine to make use of a number of platoons — Manuel Margot with Wallner and Kyle Farmer with Julien, most notably — and Minnesota has positional depth with Trevor Larnach, Austin Martin, and Jose Miranda ticketed for Triple-A. Brooks Lee, the No. 15 prospect within the sport, figures to reach in some unspecified time in the future in 2024 as nicely. He’s a pure shortstop who’s understanding at second base this spring. Lee’s arrival and a full yr of Lewis, who carried out at a star degree after coming back from a torn ACL final Could, are causes to consider the Twins will area a greater offense than the one which completed tenth in runs and ninth in OPS+ in 2023.

Projected rotation

  1. RHP Pablo López
  2. RHP Joe Ryan
  3. RHP Bailey Ober
  4. RHP Chris Paddack
  5. RHP Anthony DeSclafani
  6. RHP Louie Varland

López has developed into an ace, in any other case everybody within the rotation is perhaps a rung larger than you want. Issues would look a bit higher with Ryan at No. 3, Ober at No. 4, and Paddack at No. 5. As issues stand, DeSclafani is favored to get the No. 5 spot over Varland, although he was slowed by an elbow subject early in camp. Varland impressed as a reliever late final season and would step into the rotation ought to DeSclafani miss time. Paddack returned from his second Tommy John surgical procedure as a reliever in September and can now transition again into the rotation, and should require cautious dealing with. Varland, Matt Canterino, and Simeon Woods Richardson are the first depth choices. Even with Grey and Maeda, the Twins wound up giving Dallas Keuchel six begins in 2023. The rotation depth can be examined. All the time is.

Projected bullpen

Duran is Minnesota’s finest reliever however now not does being the crew’s finest reliever imply you’re locked into nearer responsibility. Baldelli has proven a willingness to make use of Duran in opposition to the opposite crew’s finest hitters in seventh or eighth inning, after which let another person shut the door within the ninth. It is an efficient technique general, albeit one which results in second guessing when it does not work. Varland may work his manner into the bullpen combine, ditto a now wholesome Jorge Alcala. Relievers are unpredictable, however, on paper, the Twins have one of many higher bullpens within the sport.

Can Buxton and Correa return to type?

The Twins received the AL Central final season regardless of getting a mixed 2.2 WAR in 220 video games from Buxton and Correa. Buxton had knee bother that restricted him to DH responsibility — he slashed .207/.294/.438 and that is not going to chop it as a DH — and Correa was hampered by accidents all yr, most notably plantar fasciitis. He turned the primary participant to floor into 30 double performs since Casey McGehee in 2014, and he did that whereas enjoying solely 135 video games and slugging .399.

Buxton had knee surgical procedure in October and feels ok now that he’ll return to heart area this season. He didn’t play a single inning within the area final yr. The Twins traded for Margot to supply heart area depth as a result of Buxton’s lengthy harm historical past means it is unreasonable to count on him to play the sphere on an on a regular basis foundation. That mentioned, Buxton has performed heart area in spring coaching and up to now, so good.

“Nice to see him flying across the area. He is regarded good all spring,” Baldelli informed the Related Press following Buxton’s first sport again in heart. “He seems to be sturdy and he seems to be explosive proper now. Good day for him and a superb day for all of us.”

As for Correa, who continues to be solely 29, the plantar fasciitis subsided over the winter, and he modified some issues along with his swing after the worst 162-game season of his profession a yr in the past. His exit velocity and general contact high quality have been superb, however Correa posted his highest floor ball charge in a 162-game season since 2017, and that sapped his energy and led to all these double performs.

Correa ($32 million) and Buxton ($15 million) account for greater than one-third of Minnesota’s payroll. The groups has sufficient offensive expertise to beat Buxton and Correa getting harm and/or underperforming, as we noticed final yr, however the Twins are at their finest when these two are the dynamic all-around gamers they have been a lot of their careers. They’re each premium defenders at up the center positions when wholesome, and so they can hit. At their finest, Buxton and Correa are reliable stars.

The distinction between the Twins being a superb crew that will get steamrolled within the postseason and an excellent crew with an opportunity to win the pennant is these two gamers. If Buxton and Correa keep wholesome and carry out as anticipated, the offense and protection can be among the many finest within the sport. What are the percentages that occurs? Historical past says not nice, significantly with Buxton, however that is what it can take for the Twins to be at their finest. These two main the cost together with Lewis, Kepler, et al.

How lengthy till Brooks Lee arrives?

The Polanco commerce with the Seattle Mariners, which netted DeSclafani and Topa (and others), was about greater than replenishing pitching depth and reallocating cash. It additionally freed up second base for Julien, who made main strides along with his protection final yr, and it helped clear a path for Lee, the No. 8 choose within the 2022 draft. The Twins nonetheless have a full infield with Correa, Julien, and Lewis, however no less than now there may be one fewer veteran probably blocking Lee’s path.

Lee, 23, slashed .275/.347/.461 with 39 doubles and 16 residence runs in 125 video games break up between Double-A and Triple-A final yr. He performed primarily shortstop with some third base, and this spring he is understanding at second. The concept appears to be that, when the time comes and Lee is prepared for the massive leagues, he’ll step in at second base and Julien will slide over to first. It is also attainable Lee can be an excellent utility infielder who performs day by day whereas bouncing between positions.

“I am prepared for the problem,” Lee not too long ago informed The Athletic about shifting to second base. “Second base, I simply have to get higher at turning double performs. It is not that huge of a distinction. It’s a shorter throw, and I believe I’ve a reasonably good arm and I like to make use of my arm once I can, however I nonetheless get pleasure from it lots. You are in the course of the sphere, so it is nonetheless in my eyes a premium place. You are concerned lots in relays and double performs, a whole lot of motion.”

Our R.J. Anderson ranked Lee the No. 15 prospect in baseball and known as him “an instinctual participant and a close to lock to develop into a strong common.” That is probably not the sexiest forecast, however strong regulars are very priceless, and Lee may give the Twins a pleasant shot within the arm in some unspecified time in the future this season. Is that time April? Could? June? Arduous to say. Lee’s efficiency will play a job within the choice, as will the well being and efficiency of the massive league infielders. Level is, the Twins have an elite prospect coming very quickly.

What would make for a profitable season?

Within the grand scheme of issues, incorporating Lee into the lineup, Lewis cementing himself as a perennial All-Star sort, and somebody like Varland or Woods Richardson establishing himself as a rotation mainstay would qualify as a profitable yr for the Twins. On the similar time, successful the AL Central solely to bow out within the ALDS once more would really feel like a disappointment, no? Now that the postseason dropping streak monkey is off their again, it is time for the Twins to take the following step, and advance to the ALCS for the primary time in additional than twenty years. Possession might have decreased payroll, however that should not scale back expectations.

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