On Wednesday, major league active rosters will expand to 28, only two more spots than the 26 teams have had available all season — although teams will still be able to make moves as the season winds down in September.
Before Monday’s makeup game in Detroit, Rocco Baldelli said the Twins were still discussing who to promote immediately, although the manager said right-hander Randy Dobnak will return from a finger injury on Friday and start against the Rays in Tampa Bay.
That means to add two players, the Twins would have to release or option a player currently on the active roster. Before 2020, MLB teams traditionally had 40-man active rosters in September.
Two names stick out for promotion: pitcher Joe Ryan, acquired from the Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade in July, and third baseman Jose Miranda, who has torn up the International League since being promoted from Class AA Wichita on June 28.
Ryan, 25, is a natural. The Twins need starting pitchers and already are deep into rookie tryouts for next year’s rotation. He likely would have been up already had he not been in Tokyo helping the U.S. win a silver medal in the Summer Games last month. He immediately became the Twins’ fourth-best pitching prospect, per mlb.com, and has a 2.00 earned-run average in two starts with St. Paul, giving up just five hits and two walks while fanning 17 in nine combined innings.
Miranda, 23, is more of a long shot — certainly as early as Wednesday — despite having what Baldelli called Monday “one of the best seasons in baseball at any level.”
Primarily a third baseman, Miranda was hitting .345 with 13 home runs and 38 RBIs in 43 games in Wichita and hasn’t slowed down, hitting .329 with 12 homers and 37 RBIs in 54 games at Triple-A.
“Find me too many guys that have better years than this guy,” Baldelli said. “I don’t think there have been many.”
At first glance, it appears the Twins need more pitching and fewer infielders. The team on Monday hadn’t even named a starter for Wednesday’s game against the Chicago Cubs at Target Field. Plus, Josh Donaldson is the Twins’ starting third baseman, owed $21 million in each of the next two seasons with a $16 million club option for 2025.
On the other hand, Donaldson has fought chronic leg issues the past few seasons and the Twins seem to have found a way to keep him on the field by making him the designated hitter. It seems to agree with him. Including Monday, Donaldson has played 14 of his past 15 games as the DH, batting .323 with five home runs and 14 RBIs.
Willians Astudillo has played credibly at third, making nine appearances there in August, but probably not well enough to keep the Twins from taking a closer look at Miranda — if that’s what they want to do.
“We’ve been beyond impressed with what we’ve seen from him. What that means for our major-league team right now, that’s yet to be determined,” Baldelli said. “I mean, there’s no way to really know that. It could have to do with availability of at-bats and opportunities. In some different scenarios, I mean, he could probably find himself in the big leagues sooner than later. In some other scenarios, probably not.
“But really all he has to worry about right now is continuing what he’s doing, because he’s doing a lot of things right, and he’s certainly catching the interest of everybody who follows our system. And I know he has my interest.”
Dobnak, a right-handed swingman who signed an incentives-heavy, five-year contract extension worth a guaranteed $9.25 million in May, hasn’t pitched in the majors since June 19. He’s been on the injured list with a finger strain. … Nick Gordon, an infielder in the minor leagues who has played some center field for the Twins this season, played his first game in left field.