In an ideal scenario for the Twins, Alex Kirilloff would be healthy and the Twins would be able to rely on him to see much of the action at first base next year.
But Kirilloff began this season on the injured list rehabbing from wrist surgery and he ended it on the injured list with a shoulder injury that will require surgery on Oct. 24. That could make first base one of the more interesting positions to watch as the Twins work through the offseason and then head into spring training.
With Kirilloff on the injured list to begin the season, veteran Joey Gallo drew the Opening Day start at first base. Gallo, whom the Twins signed to a one-year deal last season, played in 51 games at first base. The strikeout-prone Gallo had a great month of April before tailing off.
Donovan Solano, another veteran whom the Twins signed to a one-year deal, actually logged more innings at the position than any other player last season.
Solano performed quite well, hitting .282 with a 110 OPS+, which was well above his career average. Solano played in 134 games and got 450 plate appearances, likely way more than anybody expected when the Twins signed him during spring training.
Kirilloff wound up playing 75 games at the position between injuries — he also appeared in 21 games in the outfield, though the Twins seem to prefer his defense at first base.
The Twins saw a lot of promising signs from Kirilloff, who slashed .270/.348/.445 in 88 games. But he suffered a shoulder injury during the middle of the summer and though he returned after a little more than a month on the injured list, he was never fully healed.
The pain got progressively worse during the playoffs, to the point where the Twins took him off the active roster. After his upcoming surgery, the Twins will better be able to assess his timeline for recovery as they move forward.
It’s hard, at this point, to know what the Twins can expect from Kirilloff — and when he’ll be ready to play. But when he’s healthy, expect him to be over at first base.
Gallo will not be returning, and while the Twins could try to bring back the 35-year-old Solano on a relatively inexpensive deal, that doesn’t seem likely, either.
If Kirilloff is not ready to play first base, the Twins did get Edouard Julien’s feet wet at the position briefly. Jose Miranda, who essentially had a lost season because of his own shoulder injury, could play some first base, though it’s hard to project what the Twins might be able to get from Miranda.
The Twins could also bring in someone this offseason who has some positional flexibility who could also play some first base to give themselves some extra depth at the position.
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