Vargas enters spring training as the leading candidate to win the starting DH job, ESPN 1500 am Twin Cities reports.
Minnesota's DH spot is an open competition as Byungho Park and Robbie Grossman could also figure into the mix. Joe Mauer and Miguel Sano also figure to get time at DH as the Twins may regularly use the DH spot to give them days off from being in the field. Vargas had 10 home runs in 47 games last season, along with a .833 OPS and 13.6 percent walk rate. However, he'll need to make better contact (63 percent contact rate). It's also possible the switch hitter could platoon against lefties since he's shown sharp platoon splits (a MLB career 1.262 OPS vs. lefties, .654 OPS vs. righties).
Twins manager Paul Molitor would like to reduce Mauer's workload this season to keep him healthier. "I think I overplayed Joe the first half," Molitor told ESPN 1500 am Twin Cities. "I think it resulted in maybe leading to a potential injury as well as maybe the downslide of performance near the end of the season."
Mauer started the season hot last year by hitting .323 with a .890 OPS in the first month. But he wore down later in the year and struggled with leg issues that led to a .499 OPS over his last 22 games. With a new GM and Mauer in the second to last year of his contract, it's possible he could have a much reduced role if he struggles early in the season.
Diaz has recovered from the cellulitis which ended his 2016 campaign early and is taking part in spring training activities.
The 26-year-old missed a golden opportunity to see his first significant action at the big league level in 2016 due to a host of ailments. He enters 2017 with a chance to eventually get that playing time he missed last year, essentially because of the fragile nature of the two catchers ahead of him, Francisco Cervelli and Chris Stewart. Diaz's prospect status dimmed a bit last year but it seems as though he's finally set to show what he can do in the majors.
Meadows is healthy after leaving the 2016 Arizona Fall League early with a strained oblique.
He's expected to see a fair amount of Grapefruit League action this spring with all three of Pittsburgh's starting outfielders taking part in WBC. The organization aggressively promoted Meadows to Triple-A in 2016 after he strung together a 24-game batting streak at Double-A. He hit just .214/.297/.460 in 120 at-bats with Indianapolis but got his first taste of advanced pitching. The highly-touted 21-year-old will likely start 2017 with Indy. If he can avoid the injuries which have saddled him throughout his young career, then he could make his MLB debut sometime in 2017, especially if and when the Bucs trade Andrew McCutchen.