When the Minnesota Twins promoted catcher Chris Herrmann this season, it was in large part due to the fact that the team needed a catcher to fill in for an injury player or to send a message to other ineffective players. Over the last few weeks, with players from the roster returning from injury, Herrmann has still played an important and useful role for the Twins and it begs the question, does Herrmann have a future at the majors with the Twins next season?
On Thursday, Herrmann went 3-5 with two RBIs—including the game-winning RBI via his second RBI double in the eighth inning—and helped the Twins win a road series against first place Detroit. With Joe Mauer on the disabled list due to concussion symptoms, Herrmann figures to continue to receive an increase in his playing time and by all indications, he plans on taking full advantage of it. Herrmann’s clutch play has now shown up twice in the past week—with the other time being his game-winning single in the ninth inning last Thursday against Chicago—and it appears as if he is gaining the confidence of his manager Ron Gardenhire along the way. Herrmann hit in the number two spot in the order on Thursday and could continue to see playing time at the spot until Mauer is fully healthy as long as he continues to play well.
In terms of Herrmann’s future with the Twins next season, he very well could become a valuable and flexible bench piece for the Twins next season if the team decides to get rid of Ryan Doumit or decides to carry three catchers in order to minimize the wear and tear on Mauer’s body. Herrmann does have the ability to fill in as a corner outfielder—as does Doumit—and could be a valuable addition on the roster next season for a team who seems to struggle with keeping their catchers healthy.
Unfortunately for Herrmann, the likelihood of the team keeping three catchers next season is very unlikely. Herrmann will likely have to beat out Doumit to earn a full-time roster spot to start the season next year and Doumit has proven to be a much more reliable performer during his career; with that in mind, Herrmann’s chances of remaining in the majors to begin the year are slim at this point. However, if the Mauer continues to struggle with his health and management decides to move Mauer to first more often to coincide with the possible non resigning of Justin Morneau, Herrmann could find himself back into a role at the majors with the Twins to start the year; but again, I wouldn’t get your hopes up.
At any rate, I’d like to see Herrmann stick with the Twins as a bench player if the Twins do not find a suitable replacement; but at this point, I believe the chances are greater that Herrmann opens up the season at the minors.