2014 Outlook: Minnesota Twins

2014 Outlook: Minnesota Twins
January 22, 2014, 6:00 pm
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2013 record: 66-96, 4th place in AL Central
Manager: Ron Gardenhire, 13th season
Estimated 2014 payroll: $83 million
Key additions: C Kurt Suzuki, SP Ricky Nolasco, SP Phil Hughes
Key losses: C/OF Ryan Doumit, SP Liam Hendricks

Projected lineup
CF Alex Presley
2B Brian Dozier
1B Joe Mauer
LF Josh Willingham
RF Oswaldo Arcia
3B Trevor Plouffe
DH Jason Kubel
C Kurt Suzuki
SS Pedro Florimon

Projected rotation
RHP Ricky Nolasco
RHP Kevin Correia
RHP Phil Hughes
RHP Mike Pelfrey
RHP Vance Worley

Top relievers
CL Glen Perkins
RHP Jared Burton
RHP Michael Tonkin

Biggest questions entering 2014
1. How will Mauer work out at first base? Former MVP Joe Mauer is switching positions this season, moving from catcher to first base in interest of his health and future. He's been good the last two years - playing at least 113 games with an average of .319 or higher - but nowhere near the superstar he was five years ago. Will avoiding the grind of catching a whole season help his production at the plate? If so, the Twins will much more dangerous. Last year they ranked 25th in the majors in runs scored.

[RELATED: Can Jayson Werth have another MVP-caliber season?]

2. How good will Buxton and Sano be? It's not often a team enters a season with two prospects as heralded as Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton on the horizon. MLB.com lists Buxton (OF) as the top prospect in the game and Sano (3B) as the third. Both are 20 and both should debut this season. Sano is further along having played at Double-A, but Buxton could be even better. By the end of the season, if all works as planned, the Twins could have two candidates for AL Rookie of the Year. We'll find out a lot about the future of the Minnesota Twins when these guys hit the field.

3. Can Nolasco and Hughes fix their rotation? The Twins entered this offseason with an obvious need at starting pitching, as only the Astros allowed more runs in 2013. They were aggressive in signing Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes - two guys who have started for playoff teams - but will they be enough? They also have prospect (and former Nats draft pick) Alex Meyer coming along, he should compete for a roster spot in spring training. That's three pitchers who should help improve their staff, we'll see if it can pull them out of last place.