The Twins will make a few changes to their offseason roster by Friday's MLB-mandated deadline, and they'll do so with a valuable tool that was missing last year: information.
"A year ago, with no minor-league season, we hadn't seen most of these guys play," Derek Falvey, Twins president of baseball operations, said of the process of promoting eligible prospects to the 40-man roster in order to keep from losing them in the Rule 5 draft next month. "Thankfully, there's not as much guesswork that goes into it this year."
Any player who has been in the organization for four or five seasons, depending on their age when they turned pro, is eligible to be swiped by another team in the Rule 5 Draft on Dec. 9 at a bargain price — $100,000 — unless his current team places him on the 40-man roster.Drafted players must then remain in the major leagues for the entire season, or be offered back.
The Twins have three players they are certain they would lose without a promotion to the 40-man. They are former first overall pick Royce Lewis, who sat out the 2021 season after tearing a knee ligament last winter; Jose Miranda, their minor-league player of the year who hit 30 home runs and posted a .973 OPS at Class AA Wichita and AAA St. Paul last year; and Josh Winder, a righthander who produced a 2.63 ERA in 72 innings with the same teams.
But there are a handful of other pitching prospects they are also considering protecting from the Rule 5 draft, which requires that a player chosen remains on his new team's active roster for the entire season, or be offered back to his previous team.
"We're kind of working through [weighing] the risk of losing a guy to a rebuilding team that can afford to take a flyer on a guy and just roll with him for a year," Falvey said, a risk that has grown due to the expansion of active rosters to 26 players and more teams willing to undergo tear-down rebuilds. "It's definitely more challenging now. We learned that lesson a year ago."
That's a reference to Akil Baddoo, the outfielder plucked out of the Twins' system by the Tigers last winter who went on to collect 40 extra-base hits and steal 18 bases in Detroit.
The Twins' roster stands at 38 players, so at least one, but more likely four to six players, will be waived Friday to make room for the prospects and leave roster space for additional maneuvering as the offseason goes on. Outfielders Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick are the position players who seem most at risk of losing their spots.
Borgschulte lost to Birds
Last week's hiring of bench coach Jayce Tingler and hitting coach David Popkins isn't the end of the additions to Rocco Baldelli's 2022 staff, Falvey said. But Matt Borgschulte, hitting coach at St. Paul last season, won't be among them.
Borgschulte was hired this week to be co-hitting coach of the Baltimore Orioles, a major-league job for a coach the Twins regarded as a potential candidate for promotion.
"I'm really happy for him. With what they're putting together in Baltimore, he's a good fit," Falvey said. "We would have liked to keep him, but it's a great opportunity for him."
The Twins are looking to add more coaches, some of them who won't have dugout duties during games. Their jobs will be coordinating and communicating analytic information to players, mostly before games.
"With college programs having hitting labs, pitching labs, TrackMan, Rapsoto, guys come into the organization knowing how to use that information to their advantage, to make adjustments. We don't just want to provide that for our guys, but enhance it," Falvey said. "It's a matter of expanding those resources for the players, and we need more manpower to handle it."
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Dustin Morse, senior communications director and the Twins' chief public spokesman since 2009, has been promoted to vice president of communications and content, Falvey said. In addition to coordinating media access, Morse will take on additional responsibilities for online content, fans' game-day experience at Target Field, and marketing.
Morse, a Minnesota native who has also worked for the Padres, Rangers and Cubs, won the Robert O. Fishel Award for MLB public relations excellence in 2020.