Minnesota Twins Players Under Contract for 2024 and Beyond
The best Minnesota Twins season in 21 years ended too soon, on Wednesday night, when they lost 3-2 vs the Houston Astros in an elimination game 4 at Target Field.
As far as the American League Division Series went, I believe the Twins ran into a Houston Astros buzz saw that no other team in the MLB, American or National League, will be able to match up against. I have no doubt the Astros will win the World Series again, when the dust settles on the rest of this postseason.
What’s next for the MInnesota Twins?
But none of that matters, in retrospect. Either way, the Twins are packing up their lockers at Target Field today, and going home for the offseason. So that begs to questions what happens next. Were the 2023 Minnesota Twins a flash in the pan or can we expect another playoff run next summer?
Well, given how this roster has been constructed — with Carlos Correa under contract to play shortstop, Royce Lewis 3rd base and Pablo Lopez as a staff ace — we should absolutely expect another playoff run in 2024. Not just 2024, but the Twins should be playoff contenders for the foreseeable future.
2023 Minnesota Twins Contributors Under Contract for 2024
How much of last year’s team will return, exactly? Well, the Minnesota Twins have contract control over every single player with a positive 2023 WAR, outside of Sonny Gray (33 y/o), Michael A. Taylor (32), Donovan Solano (35) and Joey Gallo (29).
|Fielders Under Contract||Pos||Age||’23 PA||’23 WAR||Contract||Free Agent|
|Max Kepler||RF||30||491||2.9||Arb Ext||2025|
|Willi Castro||UT||26||409||2.7||Free Agent||2026|
|Carlos Correa||SS||28||580||1.4||Free Agent||2033*|
|Byron Buxton||CF||29||85||0.8||Arb Ext||2029|
*Vesting Options from 2029-2033
|Pitchers Under Contract||Pos||Age||’23 IP||’23 WAR||Contract||Free Agent|
|Pablo Lopez||SP||27||194.0||3.3||Arb Ext||2029|
|Chris Paddack||SP||27||5.0||0.0||Arb Ext||2026|
|2024 Free Agents||Pos||Age||’23 WAR||Free Agent|
|Michael A. Taylor||CF||32||1.9||2024|
What about Sonny Gray?
Now, I cannot go any further in this blog without mentioning Sonny Gray, by far the most important 2024 free agent the Minnesota Twins are currently set to lose. Gray is going to finish as a 2023 Cy Young finalist and he collected the most WAR (5.3) of any player on the roster last season, pitcher or position player. The WAR race wasn’t close, either. Pablo Lopez and Ryan Jeffers tied for 2nd with 3.3 WAR, a full two points less.
If the Twins really do decide to make him a $20 million qualifying offer, and nothing more, replacing him will not be easy. In all reality, it’d be closer to impossible. The Pohlads got four mostly sold-out playoff games in 2023. But should they re-invest that money into a 33-year-old Cy Young candidate, if he wants 3 or more years? That’s a decision the front office will have to make. It’s not the only one, though.
Plenty of Offseason Decisions remain
Nearly the entire 2023 roster will return in 2024. The “older” players under contract next season (Kepler, Correa, Polanco, Buxton), are just now reaching 30-years-old. In fact, everyone who is under contract for 2024, outside of Max Kepler and Caleb Thielbar, are also under team control through the 2025.
That doesn’t mean all of these under-contract veterans will be back next year, however. Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are great examples of this. It was almost a certainty, prior to the All-Star break, that Max Kepler was going to be traded or released by the Minnesota Twins, at some point before his contract is set to expire in 2025.
Not just because he was one of the worst players on the team, at that time, but because the organization was thought to be back-loaded with MLB-ready corner outfielders. But that was before he became the team’s best hitter, during the 2nd half.
And now, the future in the outfield corners has a lot more questions, given Wallner, Kirilloff and Larnach all struggled in the 2nd half and/or in the postseason. If Minnesota wants to contend for a World Series next season, can they afford to let Max Kepler go?
Twins future is bright
The same questions can be asked for Jorge Polanco, though the competition he’s dealing with is quite different. Both Royce Lewis and Edouard Julien are much more ready to be high-end contributors in a World Series caliber lineup than anyone trying to take Kepler’s spot.
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And we haven’t even gotten into the minor league phenoms who could come up and propel the 2024 or 2025 teams from behind, like 2022 top pick Brooks Lee and 2023 top pick Walker Jenkins, both of whom absolutely tore up the Twins’ minor league organization this summer.
I know it’s a difficult Thursday, for Minnesota Twins fans, but there is plenty of hope to look forward to, whenever you’re ready to move to the next step of your grieving process.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan