Though they entered 2022 with tons of optimism, the Twins ended up one of this season’s most disappointing teams 2022.
After inking Carlos Correa to a contract right before the start of Spring Training, trading for Sonny Gray, making a move at the deadline for Tyler Mahle, and trading other ancillary pieces to round out their roster, the Twins fell short of their lofty expectations.
As we head into the off-season, the current state of the roster has plenty of question marks and could have them looking vastly different come Opening Day of the 2023 season. With so much uncertainty surrounding them, it is hard to identify who, as of now, can be considered a sleeper or bust for fantasy purposes. However, that does not mean that there won’t be players of value, or over-valued, in fantasy circumstances for the next season.
Though there have already been quite a few NFBC drafts taking place, we must take current ADPs with a grain of salt. The off-season has just kicked off, and this roster could look vastly different within the next couple of weeks, let alone at the start of Spring Training.
Going into 2022 drafts, Kirilloff was a fantasy sleeper that many seemed to target for their rosters. Between the positional flexibility and the prospect pedigree that still surrounded his name, he was deemed an early-season value for those who were able to grab him later in drafts.
As we had seen with Kirilloff in the past, he was hampered by a wrist injury that, again, cut his season short. Known as one of the Twins best hitting prospects in recent memory, Kirilloff has not been able to live up to the expectations because of the nagging wrist issues he has suffered. Other than a short stretch in Triple-A this season, he had only been able to produce a .694 OPS before being shut down in August.
— Twins Talk (@LetsTalk_Twins) July 6, 2022
The talent that Kirilloff possesses is undeniable. The smooth-swinging lefty provides the lineup with an innate ability to put the bat on the ball, with the added benefit of the ability to drive the ball with force to all fields. With his career average of 90.3 MPH exit velocity, with a 10.2% barrel percentage, Kirilloff has shown that he can produce when he is on the field.
Many will likely fade him this upcoming season due to his injury history, but that just means he will be of value when you can take him to come draft time.
Some of you may be looking at this name and thinking “Who is this created player?” Unless you’re in tune with prospects, you probably haven’t heard of Edouard Julien before. Well, you might want to get to know him.
Heading into the 2022 minor league season, Julien was not on anyone’s radar.
Since being taken in the 18th round of the 2019 MLB draft, Julien has continued to produce throughout each stop in the minor leagues. Not only did he hit .300 in AA this season, but he has also carried the success over into the Arizona Fall League. The impressive thing about his minor-league career is his ability to get on base at such a high clip. In both 2021 and 2022, his OBP has been over .400, with an OPS above .900 in each season as well.
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) November 3, 2022
With Correa’s departure, that will likely pencil Jorge Polanco into the everyday shortstop role for the Twins this season. Arraez’s positional flexibility is what makes him so important to the success of this roster. Jose Miranda will also fight his way into playing time early in the season after the strong finish he had for them. This would probably suggest that Julien is more of a mid-season call-up than the Opening Day second baseman for the Twins.
However, as we have recently seen since the change in the CBA, teams are incentivized to debut their prospects sooner than they would have in the past. With last season’s performance, it would not be a surprise if he gets an invite to Spring Training and breaks camp with the team if he has a strong camp.
The 2022 season was not kind to Jorge Polanco.
Many thought that the Correa addition would provide Polanco with the needed support in the lineup to help him be more productive going into his age-29 season. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the Twins’ middle infielder.
His injury-riddled 2022 left him much shorter than his 2021 output of 33 home runs and 11 stolen bases. The 16 homers, and only three stolen bases, were a big letdown to his fantasy managers. It is fair to assume that this might have just been a one-off season for Polanco, but at his current early off-season ADP of Round 12, I think this is great value for someone who can provide you pop from the second base position.
The main issue with Polanco this year was the dip in zone contact % from his career norm. Other than that, the rest of his metrics were close to his usual production. If he can regain some of that bat-to-ball ability, there is no doubt that he will provide a great return for you in this area of your draft.
Let’s not ignore the fact that Duran possesses one of the nastiest pitches in all of baseball. With a fastball, and a splitter, that reaches 100 MPH with ease, Duran has all the makings of being one of the league’s best closers in the future.
Jhoan Duran became the first pitcher in MLB history yesterday to throw an off-speed pitch at 100mph (splitter). pic.twitter.com/IwYK4SJJ0s
— Baseball King (@BasebaIlKing) August 30, 2022
Therein lies the issues. Having all the makings does not guarantee him being the set closer for this team in 2023. The Twins indirectly told us this when they made in-season moves to acquire former closers Michael Fulmer and Jorge López to lock down the back end of their bullpen for their late-season attempt at getting into the postseason.
If there is one thing that the past couple of seasons has taught is un fantasy, it’s that you have to pay the ‘closer’s tax” in drafts. Whether they have officially been named the team’s ninth-inning man, or not, you have to pay up in the hope that they can secure the job.
While current mock drafts have had Duran going around the 17th round, you have to assume that will jump significantly once we approach spring. The roles of relief pitchers are even murkier after the inevitable moves that other teams will make to add to their bullpens. The thought of an established closer has dissipated ever so slightly.
While I do believe that Duran will be the Opening Day closer for the team, I am not comfortable enough to assume he can hold onto that role given his struggles with command. Therefore, I cannot see myself paying the “closer’s tax” for the Twins relief pitcher.
Since the move from Oakland to New York, Sonny Gray has been a shell of himself.
After the Twins decided to exercise his $12.5 million club option, Gray will look to bounce back from yet another injury-plagued season that had him limited to under 140 innings in four of the last five seasons. While the number of innings continues to trend down, all of the opponents’ hitters’ metrics are beginning to creep up to dangerous territories.
Sonny Gray left the game after appearing to injure himself after delivering the pitch pic.twitter.com/0gpdZgaQoM
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 16, 2022
When Sonny Gray is on, he is one of the most intriguing pitchers to watch. The fastball-curveball combination continues to spin with the rest of them. While the velocity might not be what it once was, he is still able to utilize his ability to change the shape of his pitches to keep hitters off balance.
At his current ADP of around round 16, you might deem it as proper, if not decent, value for a pitcher of Gray’s standard. Yet, last season we saw a dip in draft stock with pitchers that had an injury history. Other than Justin Verlander, many of them still struggled with injuries again this past season.
While I still believe in the talent, I would rather take a chance on someone like MacKenzie Gore, Eduard Cabrera, Aaron Ashby, and even Grayson Rodriguez who all have such high upside and can be such difference makers for your fantasy teams.
As I had stated previously, this Minnesota Twins roster will likely look vastly different once Opening Day rolls around. With the investments that they have made the past couple of seasons, I do not see why they would now shy away from, what looks to be, another season where the AL Central is up for grabs.
Luis Arraez will likely be a great value for you in drafts with his position flexibility but, other than batting average, he won’t likely provide you with much else. Joe Ryan’s ADP is one that I will continue to monitor as the off-season progresses as he is someone that could fly under the radar since he does not possess any of the “flashy” pitchability that some fantasy managers target.
At the end of the day, other than Jorge Polanco, the Twins roster might end up being valuably solely because there isn’t much that jumps out at you in terms of skillset.
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)