Twins 2022 season preview: Projected roster, rotation and three questions as Carlos Correa joins Minnesota

The Minnesota Twins took a big step back last season. The club chained back-to-back AL Central titles (which included a 101-win 2019 season) with a final berth in American League Central. That means they finished behind the rebuilding Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals.

But, despite falling rapidly from grace, the Twins will enter the 2022 season with huge aspirations. They did, after all, manage to sign the best free agent in class this winter. Superstar shortstop Carlos Correa signed a three-year, $105 million deal with the Twins that includes outs after the first and second seasons. With the addition of Correa, the Twins made a handful of moves that prove they want to win and eventually ended up being one of the most active teams after the owner-imposed lockdown was lifted.

The Twins acquired Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Ronny Henriquez in exchange for Mitch Garver in a trade with the Texas Rangers. Then sent Kiner-Falefa, Josh Donaldson and Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees in exchange for Gary Sánchez and Gio Urshela. In that trade, some of the cap space the Yankees gave them actually helped them pay for Correa’s deal. They also traded for right-handed starter Sonny Gray, sending right-handers Francis Peguero and Chase Petty to the Cincinnati Reds. And before the lockout, they signed center fielder Byron Buxton to a long-term extension.

Now, let’s preview the upcoming season for the Twins.

Total projection of wins, odds

  • Record 2021: 73-89 (fifth in AL Central)
  • SportsLine 2022 projection: 79-83
  • World Series Odds (via Caesars Sportsbook): +5000

Projected programming

  1. CF Byron Buxton
  2. DH Luis Arraez
  3. SS Carlos Correa
  4. 2B Jorge Polanco
  5. 1B Miguel Sano
  6. RF Max Kepler
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. LF Alex Kirilloff
  9. 3B Gio Urshela

Bench: C Ryan Jeffers, INF Jose Miranda, INF/OF Nick Gordon, OF/1B Brent Rooker

Last season, the attack of the Twins was not enough to fight. This year they certainly pack a bit more punch with Correa. Other off-season additions from Sánchez and Urshela could also help bolster the club’s strike. With Correa as shortstop, Urshela will be able to play his natural third base position. Arraez will likely split time at DH, left field, and second and third base. Sánchez will also likely see time at DH as 24-year-old Ryan Jeffers gets reps behind the plate. With Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson gone, Minnesota will have to rely on Polanco (33 homers last year), Kepler (looking to bounce back from a tough 2021), and Sano (ranked in baseball’s top 10 in max out speed) for power.

Projected rotation

  1. RHP Sonny Gray
  2. HRP Dylan Bundy
  3. RHP Bailey Ober
  4. RHP Joe Ryan
  5. LHP Lewis Thorpe

Enclosure: CL Taylor Rogers, SU Tyler Duffey, SU Jorge Alcala, MID Caleb Thielbar, MID Joe Smith, MID Cody Stashak, MID Jovani Moran, LR Griffin Jax, LR Jharel Cotton

Although the Twins lineup is strong, it’s safe to say the rotation is a bit in rebuilding mode. There are a lot of question marks after Sonny Gray. The Twins will also be without Kenta Maeda (Tommy John recovery) and Randy Dobnak (right middle finger injury) to start the season with both starters on the 60-day injured list. The bullpen also lacks impact arms.

Here are three questions the Twins face as they head into the 2022 season.

1. What impact can Correa have?

Carlos Correa joining the Twins was a bit of a surprise to most, but the shortstop has been clear about his goals for the club since arriving in Minneapolis. Correa, though only 27, has plenty of playoff experience (301 at-bats in 79 playoff games) and boasts a .967 OPS in the last two playoffs in 2020 and 2021.

In total, Correa has made 16 playoff appearances throughout his seven-year career, which is slightly less than the Twins franchise total since arriving in Minnesota in 1961. His goal, he says, is to help to lead the Twins into a deeper post-season. racing and building a “championship culture”. The Twins own a record-breaking 18-game playoff losing streak, and if there’s anyone who could get them past the first round of the playoffs, it would be Correa.

“To add one of the best players in the game to your squad, he’s going to elevate a lot here,” manager Rocco Baldelli told MLB Network after Correa arrived in spring training. “The way he talks about the game is amazing enough to be a part of. … We’re happy to have him.”

Correa will be one of the Twins veterans, alongside Byron Buxton (28, entering 8th MLB season) Gary Sánchez (29, entering 8th season), Gio Urshela (30, entering 7th season ) and Max Kepler (29, entering 8th season), Correa and Buxton were the No. 1 and 2 overall picks in the 2012 MLB Draft. The 2012 rookies each have the potential to set up seasons of MVP quality this year.

There are plenty of youngsters on the roster who could benefit from the leadership and guidance of veterans. For Correa, in particular, it could serve to help the Twins’ top prospect, 22-year-old shortstop Royce Lewis. Lewis is still looking to make his mark, and Correa could be a mentor for the young shortstop.

“It’s very important to me to be able to come here and show young people how to build a championship culture in the clubhouse,” Correa told MLB Network. “It starts from when we take the field in training. building that championship mentality in the clubhouse, team chemistry, going out for team dinners and all that. It’s something something I want to implement here so that we can go out and out there and compete for a championship.”

2. Can Buxton stay healthy?

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Center fielder Byron Buxton has played in the last 92 games just once in his seven-year MLB career. Injuries and underperformance prevented Buxton from reaching his full superstar potential. Last season, Buxton hit .306/0.358/0.647 with a career-high 19 homers in just 61 games before missing most of 2021 with a hip injury and a fractured hand. When healthy, Buxton showed MVP inside out. Although they apparently still caught the injury bug, the Twins signed Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million extension before being given a date with free agency.

The 2022 season poses the same question for Buxton: can he stay healthy?

“It’s going to be a big problem for me to stay on the field,” Buxton told MLB Network. “Make sure I’m there for my teammates, I’ve supported them. The only way for me to do that is if I’m on the pitch. I [added] smarter ways – don’t necessarily suppress my aggression [on defense] – but be a little smarter when diving or playing on the wall. I’m healthy, I feel good. I know I did better things in the offseason to help me get through the season.”

3. Can the Twins cope with their current pitching situation?

The short answer to this question is probably no. This is where it wouldn’t be crazy to predict the Twins would fall again. While Minnesota has come out and added depth to their roster, there just isn’t enough depth in the rotation, even after the additions of Sonny Gray and Dylan Bundy. We won’t know for sure how the back half of the rotation will play out because there are so many question marks, but if they’re shaky, trading for Oakland starters A Frankie Montas or Sean Manaea might be an option. during the season. However, the Twins could be kicked out of the market as they don’t have much to offer in a potential deal.

Gray, 32, should continue to be a reliable above-average starter with the Twins. Over the past three seasons, he has posted a 136+ ERA and 3.00 strikeout ratio in 68 starts. Bundy, 29, posted a 6.06 ERA in an injury-shortened 2021 season (19 starts), but he finished ninth in AL Cy Young voting in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, with a 3.29 ERA, 138+ ERA and 4.24 walk-to-bat ratio over 65.2 innings.

Starters who fall more into the question mark category of not knowing what to expect would include right-hander Bailey Ober (26, made his MLB debut last season) right-hander Joe Ryan (25, also made his MLB debut last season) and left-hander Lewis Thorpe (26, 5.76 ERA in 59 1/3 innings the past three seasons). Ober has a 4.19 ERA in 20 career starts while Ryan boasts a 4.05 ERA in five career starts. It has been reported that Thorpe could be kicked out of a starting role this season and relieved given his injury issues. Thorpe appeared in just 11 games last season between Triple-A and the Majors (32 1/3 innings combined) mostly due to a shoulder injury. All this to say, once again, that there are a lot of question marks in this Twins rotation.

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