The Minnesota Twins sent its outfield in flux when it traded away its two best center fielders and leadoff hitters in the offseason.
The outfield was a source of stability for the last few years for the Twins.
However, now there are more question marks than answers as spring training begins.
Who is going to take the center field job?
The most interesting question mark for the Twins does not involve the overhauled pitching staff, but rather the center field position. Manager Ron Gardenhire has three candidates to choose from; soon-to-be 25-year-old Joe Benson, 23-year-old Aaron Hicks and 27-year-old Darin Mastroianni.
The Twins want Hicks to be the guy. He is the top hitting prospect in the Twins organization that is close to major league ready. The switch-hitter was a first round draft pick of the Twins out of high school.
Benson was among baseball's top prospects before his disastrous season in 2012. He has five-tool potential, but is running out of minor league options and chances to crack the major league roster.
Mastroianni is a veteran best suited to play a fourth outfielder role. He has the skills to play all three outfield positions, but won't put up the numbers to start everyday.
Can Josh Willingham repeat his career year?
Josh Willingham put up major league career-highs in runs scored (85), total bases (272), home runs (35), RBIs (110), walks (76), slugging percentage (.526) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.890). At 34-years-old can he duplicate those numbers in his second year with the Twins. He will have the protection with Joe Mauer in front of him in the batting order and Justin Morneau right behind.
Gardenhire recently said that he doesn't like comparing players to other players, but sees a lot of similarities between Willingham and former Twins great Harmon Killebrew.
How bad will the defense be?
The trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere in the offseason leaves the Twins with a potentially inexperienced center fielder and two of the smallest coverage areas at the corner spots. Willingham and Chris Parmelee are expected to start in left and right, respectively. Provided Hicks wins the center field job, Mastroianni will be a late-inning defensive replacement at one of the corner spots. Gardenhire may want to keep a fifth outfielder to improve the defense at the other corner spot.
Can Joe Benson reach his high-ceiling potential?
Joe Benson was once considered one of the top prospects in all of baseball, but an injury-filled 2012 season knocked him down the Twins' prospect list and out of baseball's top 100. The Twins have used two options on him. The fact that he has so little options remaining, makes him a candidate to be the fifth outfielder - provided he doesn't win the center field job.
How long will Chris Parmelee remain in right field?
Parmelee is a natural first baseman, but has experience both in the minors and majors in the outfield. Parmelee, a former first round draft pick, will most likely see time in spring training in both right field and at first base. He is expected to return to first base when Morneau is no longer with the team. Morneau is in the final year of his contract and could be traded by the trade deadline or allowed to sign elsewhere in the offseason.
Will Oswaldo Arcia push for a roster spot this season?
Oswaldo Arcia is one of the top prospects in the Twins organization and may be close to major league-ready. He will turn 22-years-old in May and has been in the Twins organization five years. He has a .314 career minor league batting average. He reached the double-A level and had his best season in 2012, which included an invitation to play for the World squad in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. If Parmelee struggles or returns to first base, Arcia could be called up to play right field.