The Minnesota Twins’ 2023 season begins Thursday when they visit the Kansas City Royals. The Twins have some early work to do to eliminate whatever foul taste remains from how their 2022 season ended.
The Twins entered the final third of the season firmly in a playoff spot, but a disastrous 10-18 September caused them to fall out of the mix.
Making matters worse was their 1-7 record that month against the Cleveland Guardians, the eventual AL Central winner.
So, now we have a fresh start for the team with a division that appears to be somewhat up for grabs.
There is no legal Minnesota sports betting, but nationally the oddsmakers expect good things from the Twins.
The Guardians remain the division favorite with odds of +130 at DraftKings Sportsbook, but the Twins are right behind them at +215.
Getting into the playoffs is Goal No. 1. If the Twins make it in, they immediately will set their sights on finally winning a playoff game, something that hasn’t happened in a long time. Minnesota carries an 18-game playoff losing streak.
Maybe with that in mind, DraftKings has the Twins at +3500 to win the World Series. That ranks tied for 13th (with Milwaukee) among MLB’s 30 teams.
The Carlos Correa Roller Coaster
Somewhat surprisingly, Minnesota returns superstar shortstop Carlos Correa, a huge boon to its lineup. Correa opted out after the first year of his three-year, $103 million contract to hit free agency. A tumultuous offseason followed.
Correa thought he had an agreement with San Francisco before that got nixed due to injury concern. Then Correa thought he had a deal with the New York Mets, but again team doctors raised concerns about the long-term health of his right leg.
With Correa’s leverage in serious decline, the Twins were able to re-sign him to a six-year, $200 million contract, less money than they originally had offered him entering the offseason. It was still a huge investment for the typically conservative franchise, as only Joe Mauer ever had been given a contract worth more than $100 million by the Twins.
Breaking Down Twins Roster
Correa will be one of two key pieces to the Minnesota offense with Byron Buxton also expected to have a big impact.
Buxton also has battled health issues, but the hope is that keeping him at the designated hitter spot for much of the year will keep him in the lineup more often. Buxton currently has +3000 odds to win the AL MVP and Correa is close at +3500.
The two stars must help offset the loss of Luis Arraez. The Twins sent the reigning AL batting champion to Miami in the offseason to acquire pitching help.
Arraez, a second baseman who hit .316, was a tough out with a low strikeout percentage. His loss will be felt.
The reason Minnesota felt compelled to make such a deal was the state of its pitching staff. Pablo Lopez was acquired for Arraez. The 27-year-old right-hander is expected to be the anchor of the Twins rotation this season and will get the Opening Day start.
Starting pitching has long been a sore spot for Minnesota but the rotation appears solid if unspectacular. Behind Lopez are returnees Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan and Tyler Mahle. Filling out the rotation is Kenta Maeda, who missed all of last year with Tommy John surgery.
These starters will have to perform well, as the bullpen did not see much improvement in the offseason despite a down year last year.
There is a path to the playoffs available for this team as the division once again doesn’t appear to be the strongest. Despite that, the Twins are going to need top performances from their stars and new acquisitions and improvement from their bullpen if they want to avoid another disappointing end to the season.
On the legislative front, a sports betting bill is currently making its way through House committees. It would have to pass through the House and Senate and be signed by Gov. Tim Walz. The outlook is optimistic that the bill could become law and fans in the state will be able to wager legally on their favorite sports teams.