In an ideal scenario for the Twins, Alex Kirilloff would be healthy and the Twins could count on him to see a majority of the action at first base next year.
But Kirilloff began this season on the injured list rehabbing from wrist surgery and ended it on the injured list with a shoulder injury that requires surgery on Oct. 24. That could make first base one of the more interesting positions to keep an eye on as the Twins work through the offseason and then begin spring training.
With Kirilloff on the injured list to start the season, veteran Joey Gallo got the opening day start at first base. Gallo, whom the Twins signed to a one-year contract last season, played 51 games at first base. The strikeout-prone Gallo had a great month in April before fading.
Donovan Solano, another veteran 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 an OPS+ of 110, which was well above his career average. Solano played in 134 games and had 450 plate appearances, probably far more than anyone expected when the Twins signed him during spring training.
Kirilloff played a total of 75 games at the position between injuries – he also appeared in 21 games in the outfield, although the Twins appear to prefer his defense at first base.
The Twins saw plenty of promising signs from Kirilloff, who hit .270/.348/.445 in 88 games. However, he suffered a shoulder injury in the middle of the summer and although he returned to the injured list after just over a month, he was never fully healed.
The pain continued to worsen throughout the playoffs until the Twins cut him from the active roster. With his upcoming surgery, the twins will be better able to assess the timeline for his recovery as he moves forward.
At this point, it’s hard to say what the Twins can expect from Kirilloff – and when he will be ready to play. But if he’s healthy, you can expect him to be at first base.
Gallo won’t be returning, and while the Twins could try to bring the 35-year-old Solano back on a relatively cheap deal, that also seems unlikely.
If Kirilloff isn’t willing to play first base, the Twins have briefly gotten Edouard Julien’s feet wet at the position. Jose Miranda, who essentially had a lost season due to his own shoulder injury, could play some first base, although it’s hard to predict what the Twins might get from Miranda.
The Twins could also bring in someone this offseason who has some positional flexibility and could also play some first base to give themselves some more depth at the position.