The Twins got their offseason roster renovations underway last week by outrighting Jason Repko, Matt Tolbert, Rene Rivera and Anthony Slama. This created four openings on the 40-man roster, though two of those spots are now filled by Nick Blackburn and Alexi Casilla, who were reinstated from the 60-day disabled list.
Repko and Tolbert were both set to be arbitration eligible this offseason, so this decision confirms what many already believed: that the Twins had no interest in employing those players next year at more than the league minimum.
Repko was a fifth outfielder and Tolbert was a utility infielder. Neither held a particularly significant role for the club. Still, both were exceptionally awful hitters in 2011, even by the low standards that accompanied their titles. Among all MLB players who made 200 or more plate appearances, Tolbert's .518 OPS was sixth-worst. Meanwhile, Repko's .555 mark fell nearly 100 points below his already poor career mark.
Replacing these two with more competent options would qualify as "incremental upgrades." It's a term I first used a couple weeks ago when talking about bringing back Nick Punto as a bench player, and you're likely to hear it often from me over the course of the offseason. Given their circumstances, the Twins shouldn't be looking to land one or two superstars; rather, they should be seeking to trim fat from the roster and build better depth across the board.