We recently wrapped up the SB Nation Offseason Simulation over at Royals Review and, frankly, it’s become one of my favorite little offseason activities. I had the White Sox this year and while I was looking at their roster and prospects, it made me curious to further evaluate the rest of the AL Central to see when other teams may try to “go for it,” and how their next competitive window lines up with the Royals imminent window that should be opening in 2023.
Earlier this week I wrote about the White Sox window that is currently open and when it may start to tighten up a bit. You can read about that here. Today I want to talk about the Minnesota Twinkies. I know I said we’d probably do Detroit next, but Detroit’s window is so similar to the Royals that I thought we’d save them for now. For now, let’s take a look at what the Twinkies will be working with for the foreseeable future.
Here is a quick look at the core of the Twins roster heading into 2022, their age on Opening Day, and the year in which that player becomes a free agent:
- Byron Buxton, 28, 2022
- Taylor Rogers, 31, 2022
- Mitch Garver, 31, 2023
- Miguel Sano, 28, 2023
- Josh Donaldson, 36, 2024
- Max Kepler, 29, 2024
- Jorge Polanco, 28, 2025
- Luis Arraez, 25, 2025
- Alex Kirilloff, 24, 2027
- Trevor Larnach, 25, 2027
Here’s a list of their top prospects that are getting pretty close to the big leagues and could be contributors both in 2022 and the long-term:
- Royce Lewis (top 50 prospect in baseball)
- Austin Martin (top 50 prospect in baseball)
- Jordan Balazovic (top 100 prospect in baseball)
- Simeon Woods Richardson
- Jhoan Duran
- Joe Ryan
- Jose Miranda
- Josh Winder
- Matt Canterino
The Twins might be in rebuild mode after finishing last in what was a rather mediocre AL Central in 2021. From 2015 to 2020, the Twinkies finished 2nd, 5th, 2nd, 2nd, 1st, and 1st in the AL Central. They had a really good run despite having zero playoff success to speak of. Their pitching staff is beginning to wear thin and while they do have some reinforcements on the way in that regard, they aren’t nearly as highly touted as the group the Royals and Tigers are about to run out there in 2022. The Twins will have a pretty good offensive core soon with Lewis, Polanco, Kirilloff, Larnach, and Martin, but I just don’t know where their star power comes from and it’s not like they’re in a huge market with tons of money to spend. I have a feeling the Cleveland Guardians situation may even look a bit more promising than this. Not that it’s all bad for Minnesota, but if the Royals can’t overcome this group with their impending window, then it was never going to work anyway.
The one thing the Twins do have going for them is the ability to totally tear this team down and reload the farm system by trading legitimately good veterans. Josh Donaldson, Taylor Rogers, Mitch Garver, and Byron Buxton could legitimately combine to bring the Twins back a top 100 prospect or two plus 5-6 more legitimate big leaguers. If the Twins commit to a rebuild this offseason, they could potentially be a force again as early as 2024 or 2025.
- The Twins at present should be fine in a few years, but certainly won’t be the biggest obstacle in the Royals path to the playoffs.
- The Twins have something the Royals don’t, which are big league veterans they can easily move to add reinforcements (and the willingness to do so).
- Prediction: the Twins tear it down this offseason, lose 95+ games in 2022, and by Opening Day on 2025 we’re talking about them as being legitimately ready to contend again, which should put their competitive window a couple of years behind the Royals, if everything goes right for KC.