Minnesota Twins 2024 Season Preview

The 2024 Minnesota Twins look to have another successful season that ends with them as AL Central Champions once again.

FORT MYERS, FL- MARCH 13: Royce Lewis #23 and Byron Buxton #25 of the Minnesota Twins look on during a spring training game against the St. Louis Cardinals on March 13, 2024 at the Lee County Sports Complex in Fort Myers, Florida. (Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images)

The 2024 Minnesota Twins are looking to build upon their success from 2023. Last season, the Twins won their first playoff game since 2004, breaking a streak of 18 consecutive postseason losses. The club will once again be looking to make a push for the division crown, but it is going to be an uphill battle.

Due to the financial issues happening with Diamond Sports Group (owners of Bally Sports) the Twins ownership decided it was best to cut payroll this season. According to FanGraphs, the organization’s 2024 payroll is $128 million. That number is $31 million short of their 2023 payroll. That is also the third largest payroll cut in the majors this offseason, behind only the Angels and Padres, who both had much larger payrolls to start with.

Graphic posted on X by @brooksgate

While it is certainly disappointing that the Twins cut the payroll, it is somewhat justifiable. Despite the cut, we’re still talking about the most talented roster in the division. The front office had to have the wherewithal to know they can still compete despite a lower payroll.

However, it can still be considered incredibly disappointing. Outside of a couple trades, there was minimal activity to make the team better, and they remained mostly quiet on the free agent market. This should have been an offseason where the Twins tried to establish themselves as legit World Series contenders. It instead appears that in 2024 the front office is okay with competing for the division and nothing more.

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That about sums up the offseason for the Twins. With all of that said, lets take a look at the transactions that were made before diving into the roster.

Notable 2024 Departures

In order to cut the payroll the way they did, the Twins have had a number of notable departures this offseason.

SP, Sonny Gray – Coming off a second place finish in the Cy Young voting, the Twins extended a qualifying offer to Gray before he ultimately signed with the Cardinals.

OF, Joey Gallo – Left as a free agent for the Washington Nationals.

OF, Michael A. Taylor – Left as a free agent for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

INF, Jorge Polanco – Traded to the Mariners.

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SP, Kenta Maeda – Signed a two year deal with Detroit as a free agent.

INF, Donovan Solano – Still a free agent.

SP, Tyler Mahle – Signed a two year deal with Texas as a free agent.

UTL, Nick Gordon – Traded to the Marlins.

While Gray was by far the biggest departure, the Twins lost a handful of productive players that will not be easy to replace.

Notable 2024 Additions

SP, Anthony DeSclafani – Acquired from Seattle for Jorge Polanco.

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RP, Justin Topa – Acquired from Seattle for Jorge Polanco.

1B, Carlos Santana – Signed a one-year deal as a free agent.

RP, Steven Okert – Acquired from Miami for Nick Gordon.

OF, Manuel Margot – Acquired from the Los Angeles Dodgers for prospect Noah Miller.

2024 Projected Opening Day Lineup

Projected Opening Day LineupProjected Bench
1. Edouard Julien – 2B1. Christian Vazquez – C
2. Byron Buxton – CF2. Kyle Farmer – INF
3. Royce Lewis – 3B3. Willi Castro – UTL
4. Carlos Correa – SS4. Manuel Margot – OF
5. Max Kepler – RFMinor League Depth
6. Carlos Santana – 1B1. Brooks Lee – INF
7. Matt Wallner – LF2. Austin Martin – UTL
8. Ryan Jeffers – C3. Jair Camargo – C
9. Alex Kirilloff – DH4. Jose Miranda – INF
5. Trevor Larnach – OF


Ryan Jeffers is coming off the best season of his career. The 26-year-old finished the season with 2.7 fWAR in just 96 games. He entered the season as the backup to Christian Vazquez but looks to be the primary option this season.

Jeffers did not have enough plate appearances to be a qualified hitter but he was able to put up outstanding offensive numbers. In 335 plate appearances over 96 games he was tied for first among catchers in wRC+ at 138 (minimum of 300 PA). He also finished eighth in fWAR, with him and Patrick Bailey as the only catchers in the top 10 with less than 100 games played. He finished one point behind Adley Rustchman in batting average and finished ahead of both William Contreras and Sean Murphy in both OBP and SLG.

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The only knock on Jeffers offensively heading into this season is that his expected weighted on base average (xwOBA) indicated some good luck. Among players with at least 300 PA last season, he had the 12th largest difference between wOBA and xwOBA. Expect some regression but the Twins will likely keep his bat in the lineup as much as possible.

Vazquez is still going to see playing time thanks to his defense which is solid. His bat however was terrible last season with a 65 wRC+. Expect Jeffers to get most of the workload at catcher this season, he has earned it.

First Base

Carlos Santana and Alex Kirilloff form what should be a solid platoon at first base. Santana is a player that fits in very nicely to this Twins lineup. With a lineup full of players who strike out a lot, he provides a nice break from that with a career strikeout rate of 16.5%. That would have led the team last year, and his career walk rate of 14.8% would have been the second highest on the team.

With Kirilloff’s health history, Santana will likely see a lot of time at first but a platoon with Kirilloff should work nicely if everyone is healthy. Santana has produced career offensive numbers that are solid against righties and great against lefties. Kirilloff struggled mightily against southpaws last season (37 wRC+) but crushed righties (138 wRC+).

The biggest question is Kirilloff’s health. He played a career high 88 games last season and hopefully he is able to play closer to 120 games this season because he is productive when he is healthy. The Santana signing was a very good way to mitigate that concern however and is one of the more underrated signings of the offseason in my opinion.

Middle Infield

Carlos Correa and Edouard Julien are the duo up the middle and are entering the season with very different mindsets.

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Correa is looking to bounce back from the worst season of his major league career. A 96 wRC+ in the box and below average defense in the field is not what the Twins were expecting from Correa. The one silver lining is that it looks as though Correa was playing through an injury. So far this spring it looks like that injury is no longer bothering him. If that is the case it is really hard to not see Correa bouncing back to his old form.

Julien on the other hand is looking to build upon his solid rookie season. He slots in this season as the everyday lead-off hitter and second baseman. That role should be perfect for Julien because what he does best is get on base. Last season among players with at least 300 PA, Julien finished fifth in walk rate and 15th in OBP. He had the fourth highest wRC+ on the Twins last season but all the players ahead of him played less than 100 games.

Julien could very well end up being the most important bat in this lineup in 2024.

Third Base

The Twins’ Opening Day third baseman is one of the most exciting players in the league and my personal sleeper pick for AL MVP.

Royce Lewis has had one of the more unfortunate starts to a career that we have seen. After being the first overall pick in 2017 he missed the 2020 minor league season due to COVID-19. He then missed the entire 2021 season due to injury. After making his debut in 2022 he would suffer a season ending injury after just 12 games in the majors. He was finally able to come back last season and boy did he announce his presence in a big way.

Lewis’s career numbers through just 70 major league games are absolutely absurd. He is hitting .307/.364/.549 with a 153 wRC+ and 2.9 fWAR. Had Lewis played a full 162 last season, he was on pace for 6.7 fWAR.

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Perhaps the most unbelievable thing about Lewis is his ability to shine when the lights are the brightest. In all honesty I have no idea how FanGraphs calculates high-leverage situations but if you want to know feel free to go read their explanation. Regardless, in situations that FanGraphs considered high-leverage last season, Lewis had an OPS of 1.443 and a wRC+ of 294. His OPS with men on base last season was 1.032 and with men in scoring position it jumped to 1.237.

Lewis is the Twins’ best offensive player. Speaking strictly from a consistency point, Julien is the most important bat. However, Lewis is going to be the most impactful bat in this lineup and makes the Twins appointment television this season. In a fully healthy 2024, Lewis looks to establish himself as one of the best players in all of baseball.


Matt Wallner and Max Kepler look to be the starting outfielders in the corners this season. Kepler has been on the Twins his whole career and has consistently been a great defender, but last season the bat took a step up.

2023 was Kepler’s best season by wRC+ (124) in his career. The advanced metrics even suggest a solid amount of bad luck for him as well, though that has largely been the trend for his entire career. The nice thing about Kepler is that he has been very durable for the Twins. He has averaged 130 games a season is seven full MLB seasons and is also always going to play great defense. If he gives the Twins another 120 wRC+ season, great, but if the bat takes a step back, he will still provide value.

Wallner should be the starter in left field come Opening Day. He will likely share that role with Manuel Margot who will be in the lineup against lefties. Wallner was abysmal against lefties, posting a 30 wRC+, so expect Margot – who has a career wRC+ of 109 against lefties – to get those at-bats. Wallner has 30-homer potential, so he is still absolutely someone Twins fans should be excited about.

Willi Castro is another interesting name. After a 2.5 fWAR season last year he slots in as a super utility guy this year but will primarily be the backup center fielder. He posted 33 steals last season so keep an eye on him as defensive sub and pinch runner late in games as well. He should get solid playing time.

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Finally, the elephant in the room: Byron Buxton. It looks like Buxton is finally going to play center field again which is huge. Everyone is aware of his health history by now and last year he did not see the field defensively. Despite still hitting the ball very hard, in 88 games last season the offensive production just wasn’t there for Buxton. With that said, we all know what a healthy Buxton is capable of so heres to good health.

Pitching Staff

Projected RotationProjected BullpenProjected Depth
1. Pablo Lopez – RHP1. Jhoan Duran* – RHP1. Anthony DeSclafani – RHP*
2. Joe Ryan – RHP2. Griffin Jax – RHP2. Josh Winder – RHP*
3. Bailey Ober – RHP3. Brock Steward – RHP3. Simeon Woods-Richardson – RHP
4. Chris Paddack – RHP4. Caleb Thielbar* – LHP4. Matt Canterino – RHP
5. Louie Varland – RHP5. Justin Topa – RHP5. Brent Headrick – LHP
6. Steven Okert – LHP6. Kody Funderbunk – LHP
7. Josh Staumont – RHP7. Cole Sands – RHP
8. Jay Jackson – RHP8. Jorge Alcala – RHP
*Projected to start season on the injured list

Starting Rotation

Let’s talk about the rotation as a whole before diving into the individuals. This rotation looks the way the Twins rotation has looked in their two recent seasons, a mix of solid pitchers but no ace. Only this year, I would argue they have their ace.

Pablo Lopez pitched like an ace last season, he was only outshined in Minnesota by Gray. Now, he is the front-man of the rotation and he is up for the task. Last season, he proved that he can be both a workhorse and an incredibly effective pitcher. He finished ninth in innings pitched, 10th in fWAR, and seventh in K/9 last season among qualified starters. He is one of the favorites to win the AL Cy Young this season and the Twins are going to need him to pitch like it.

The next three in the rotation are all solid. Most teams would be really happy with them as their middle of the rotation arms. At his best, Joe Ryan is a really good number two but more likely a really good number three. Bailey Ober is a great number three starter and shows flashes of turning into a potential number two option. Chris Paddack can be a solid four but is coming off injury.

Those three have the tall task of making up for the loss of Gray. It is highly unlikely any of them can do that individually but if they all step up and perform above their 60th percentile outcomes it is possible.

Ryan should experience some positive regression this season. He finished last year with a 4.51 ERA but a 3.53 xERA, that should be a good sign for the Twins.

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Ober was really good last season and has continued to look good this spring.

Paddack is really the wild card in this rotation. If he performs this could be a rotation that has four hurlers with an ERA under 4.

If Paddack doesn’t perform, Louie Varland gives the Twins a solid shot at a rotation with four guys under a 4 ERA anyway. Home runs were a real issue for Varland last season but if he can keep the ball in the yard this year, he has shown flashes of being a really solid back of the rotation arm.

If there is one thing Twins fans should be upset about after the offseason it is the lack of attention given to the rotation. While yes, this could once again be a very solid starting rotation but most teams have eight to ten players who make starts on the mound over the course of a season. The Twins depth just simply is not there. One or two injuries to the rotation could quickly put them in the gutter.


Before diving headfirst into the bullpen, there are some things that should be noted. The Twins have lost Jhoan Duran as well as Caleb Thielbar for at least the first couple weeks of the season. They are both set to start the year on the injured list. Jorge Alcala and Kody Funderbunk should be inline to replace them in the pen to start the season.

The Twins had a good bullpen last season but this year they could seriously have the best bullpen in baseball. In an article I wrote up about the Twins ZiPS projections, it is abundantly clear just how good this bullpen could be. As a unit they are projected for the third most fWAR only trailing the Braves and Rays.

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The bullpen is headlined by Duran, Griffin Jax, and Brock Stewart. With Felix Bautista of the Baltimore Orioles out for the year, Duran’s path to being the best closer in baseball just got easier, as long as he can get fully healthy as soon as possible. He is a regular on Pitching Ninja’s X account with his nasty “splinkers” and 100 mph fastball. Duran has gotten hit pretty hard this spring but I am not putting stock in a 3.2 inning sample especially when he still has a 2.82 FIP.

Jax and Stewart look to handle most of the seventh and eighth inning work behind Duran in 2024. However, until Duran is back and healthy, Jax will serve as the primary closer with Stewart getting opportunities as well.

Jax was good last year with a 3.86 ERA in 65 innings but the projections suggest that he regresses. I disagree due to the fact that last season he had a 2.88 xERA. He also posted career-best numbers in ground ball rate, hard hit rate, and barrel rate. Jax was fairly unlucky last season and should see some positive regression.

Stewart is likely to trend the opposite direction but only because he had a small sample last season. In 27.2 innings, Stewart had a 0.65 ERA and struck out 12.6 per nine. He is having a bit of a career renaissance after not playing in the big leagues for three seasons (2020-22).

The rest of the bullpen is rounded out by solid arms. Thielbar has been very consistent since 2020 posting ERA’s under 3.50 in all of those seasons. Expect more of the same once he is back.

Justin Topa comes over after having a really good season with Seattle. A 2.61 ERA in 69 innings will play well. He should have the sixth inning when starters fail to throw more than five innings.

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Steven Okert is a bit more of a wild card. He comes over from Miami where his 2023 season was a bit rocky. He had great seasons in 2021 and 2022 so hopefully the Twins get that version of the crafty southpaw.

Josh Staumont probably doesn’t see a ton of innings this season and could even be optioned at some point. He throws hard and collects strikeouts but command is an issue. It could be tough for him to stick in the bullpen this season.

This will be Jay Jackson’s sixth major league team in as many seasons. He was great for Toronto last year in just under 30 innings with a 2.12 ERA.

As previously stated, this bullpen has a real shot to be the best such unit in the majors. It is really strong at the top and has good depth. This could be a crucial unit for this Twins team should the starting rotation deal with injuries or fatigue.

Final Thoughts

This 2024 Minnesota Twins team does not look all that different from the Twins teams of recent memory. Fans should probably expect the same things they have come to expect from the Twins. A lot of home runs, a lot of strikeouts at the plate, and the seasons success to largely ride off of injury luck should be the themes.

The last one there is the most important. This season could largely come down to their luck with injuries. Buxton, Correa, Kirilloff, and Lewis have all had a very rough career history with injuries. Should one or more of them go down for and extended amount of time, I am not sure the Twins have the depth in the minors to subsidize the lost production.

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With the starting rotation it is the sheer lack of depth that should worry fans. If a starter or two goes down, counting on Simeon Woods Richardson and Brent Headrick is likely not going to be enough.

The Twins should be the favorites to come out of the AL Central but at the end of the day, you cannot write off the Guardians or the Tigers. Both of those teams are likely to stick around and take advantage if the Twins falter.

This teams saving grace however could very well end up being the bullpen. If the bullpen lives up to its potential it could possibly carry this team to a division title. However, even a great bullpen can only overcome so much.

At the end of the day, the Twins look like they are going to be a very fun team to watch this season. A lot of power at the plate and flame throwers at the back of the bullpen will make for a very fun season that should end with another division title.