Young Twins hurler Fernando Romero is one of several of the club’s pitchers who could end up in a variety of roles when camp breaks, Phil Miller of the Star Tribune writes. While the rotation appears to be largely settled, perhaps it’s not out of the question that he could force his way into a job there — or, of course, take an opening if there’s an injury. Otherwise, Romero could certainly head back to Triple-A to continue developing and serve as depth. Most intriguingly, though, is the possibility that he’d stay with the MLB club as a reliever. While there’s an argument to be made that doing so now might make it less likely to capture his true upside, the Twins see several elements that make Romero a particularly interesting relief candidate. His prior injury history is one element; it also stands to reason that he’d thrive if allowed to focus on his two best pitches (fastball/slider) in shorter stints. The front office still seems to be contemplating the possibilities — closer competitor? multi-inning piggyback mate for Martin Perez? — with plans to wait and see how things look in Fort Myers.
A few more items from the AL Central …
- All indications are that the Royals believe they can rebound quickly from a down 2018 season and the loss of their prior slate of core players. That seems optimistic from the outside, but we certainly don’t know all that the club does about its own players. First/third baseman Hunter Dozier is one of several players who seems to have a big opportunity ahead of him, as John Sleezer of the Kansas City Star writes. Though he took his lumps in the big leagues last year, Dozier says he felt a change after he settled in at the game’s highest level. “Once things started clicking,” he says, “I got my confidence back and then it became a lot of fun again.” Of course, while Dozier did boost his performance later in the year, his .247/.287/.453 post-All-Star break slash line does highlight the biggest question facing him from an offseason perspective — i.e., whether he’ll consistently get on base. In the field, the team observed big strides, but it remains to be seen whether Dozier can handle third at even a roughly league-average level. He also graded as a very poor baserunner. Clearly, there’s plenty of risk in this profile, but the Royals still seem to have faith — or, at least, feel they need to use the coming season to see what they have in Dozier and a few other as-yet-unestablished players.
- As the White Sox continue to chase Manny Machado, Mark Lazerus of The Athletic (subscription link) looks at what that has meant for some of the team’s existing infielders. Yolmer Sanchez and Tim Anderson, could stand to see their own situations disrupted — whether by a loss of playing time, a change of position, or perhaps even a trade. Both Sanchez and Anderson say they are in favor of anything that moves the club closer to putting a championship contender on the field, though the latter certainly did not sound particularly inclined to hand over his slot at shortstop. “I’m not just going to give him shortstop,” says Anderson of a hypothetical acquisition of Machado. “I’m not just going to bow to him. That’ my position. … It’s mine until somebody takes it.” Just what the team’s plans would be if they do secure Machado’s services aren’t clear. Many have wondered whether a promise to play him at short would be part of the bargain, though GM Rick Hahn did suggest the star has indicated he’ll defer to the team’s positional preferences. In any event, the first order of business is to get Manny (or perhaps another star) to sign on — an ongoing priority that Hahn has made no secret of.