Patrick Semansky/Associated Press
Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton can help put the Twins in the playoffs very soon.
With the American League chock-full of contenders, retoolers and, well, whatever the heck the Oakland A's are supposed to be, the Twins are really the only team that matches the description of a rebuilder.
And yeah, it's even a stretch to call them a rebuilder. They won 83 games last year, and there's probably more to like about their 2016 roster than there was to like about their 2015 roster.
The Twins will be getting a full season of Miguel Sano, who dominated with a .916 OPS and 18 homers in only 80 games last year. Eddie Rosario is another talented youngster. New arrival Byung Ho Park could give the Twins another right-handed power threat. Old standbys Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer, Kurt Suzuki and Trevor Plouffe are also still around.
Perhaps most exciting of all, this could be Byron Buxton's year to break out. He's the American League's No. 1 prospect, and the Twins' center field job is his to lose going into 2016.
"I think the raw tool set and athleticism is so overwhelming that he'll be a star," one scout recently told B/R's Danny Knobler. "You have a potential All-Star. But do you have a potential Hall of Famer?"
The crack in the Twins' armor, though, appears to be their pitching. Phil Hughes, Ervin Santana and Kyle Gibson are solid but only solid. The team needs somebody with the potential to be an ace, and that somebody may not arrive until Jose Berrios, MLB.com's No. 19 prospect, is ready later this summer. And considering the depth of the AL Central, any help from him could be too little, too late.
If so, well, 2017 will have to do. That's when the Twins are due to have all the same pieces they have now, and having gained experience in 2016 can only help Buxton and Berrios. Whereas the Twins are very close to ready now, they should be completely ready next season.
Postseason ETA: 2017
Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com and FanGraphs unless otherwise noted/linked. Payroll and contract info courtesy of Cot's Baseball Contracts.