Traditionally, a win-loss record is a pretty good way of judging whether or not a team should be a buyer leading up to the July trade deadline. If your team is 15 games under .500 on June 15, you sell; if your team is within shouting distance, you perhaps wait and see. But that buyer/seller divide isn't usually crystal clear.
What if your team is unexpectedly contending? What if your team is unexpectedly contending, but the current roster doesn't have enough talent - on paper - to continue to do so? What if buying two or three veterans for the stretch run takes away key playing and development time from players who are potential franchise cornerstones over the next five to ten years, or what if it would only delay what has already been a multi-year rebuilding process that's not close to being complete?
The Twins find themselves dealing with, if not all of those questions, parts of them. Ervin Santana, who is heading to Triple-A to begin his rehab assignment before being eligible to rejoin the club in early July, should act like an upgrade for the rotation. Minnesota's depth at pitcher is already notable, and the team will need to find a way to move somebody; perhaps more than one somebody, if an opportunity for a fantastic pitcher presents itself - even the Twins and their overflowing bucket of MLB-ready starting pitching couldn't say no to that.
Or perhaps the bullpen could use a really good arm or two. There are plenty of internal options for those roles and one or two relievers on the 25-man roster that could easily have their production (or lack thereof) improved upon, but a trade for a notable set-up man would make some sense.
But where else could the Twins realistically upgrade? Adding to the outfield means young players like Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, or Oswaldo Arcia don't get playing time they need in order to turn into the players they can become. Joe Mauer isn't going anywhere (provided there's nothing wrong with him, which I have a hard time believing right now). Brian Dozier is entrenched at second. Trevor Plouffe doesn't need to be replaced, and on top of that there's no way this team should block Miguel Sano.
Maybe the Twins could find a short-term upgrade at designated hitter if they don't like their chances with Kennys Vargas and the assortment of other players who would be happy to get plate appearances in. With Sano's arrival imminent, Mauer's struggles, the existence of Torii Hunter's 40-year old legs, and the potential in Arcia's bat, not to mention Vargas himself, that doesn't seem plausible. At the very least it would create its own issues.
Perhaps there's an opportunity at shortstop, since Danny Santana and Eduardo Escobar have been less than impressive this year - but again it would have to be a short-term buy in order to avoid blocking Jorge Polanco.
The one place where it makes sense for the Twins to buy, and perhaps buy big at the deadline, would be at catcher. Kurt Suzuki has turned back into Kurt Suzuki, and neither Chris Herrmann nor Eric Fryer give the Twins options for helping the team win games by virtue of their backstop skills. Josmil Pinto's bat plays, but the defense is a big question mark and he's currently on the disabled list anyway. Unless you're a big believer in Pinto as an everyday catcher, there isn't another receiver in the system who looks like they might be able to hit enough to be considered a starter. Mitch Garver's incredible 2014 campaign feels like a distance memory, and Stuart Turner can't hit (although I hope that perhaps a switch will flip eventually).
I don't mind the idea of the Twins making a move to shore up one or two things in July, but it will be difficult to bring in a really good player who demands to play everyday without sacrificing the strategy that the front office put in place at the start of this year: let the kids play, and where they aren't ready don't block them in. That's a really good strategy for the way this organization is set up, and bottling it for improving the club's short-term chances at contention by a couple of percentage points doesn't make a great deal of sense to me.
Upgrading at catcher would be a huge plus for this organization, especially if it's a young player with years of team control remaining or a player who is nearly MLB-ready. Tomorrow I'll produce my research on viable targets, of which there quite naturally aren't many. Good, young catchers are expensive for a good reason; that doesn't mean a player costing multiple prospects wouldn't be a smart buy for the future.
Other than that, a short-term upgrade at shortstop could work for the right player and of course a set-up man would really help out the back end of the bullpen. Finding a catcher or a shortstop would allow the Twins to run with an improved bench, as guys like Eduardo Escobar and Eduardo Nunez don't need to be starting four or five days a week.
With that I'll turn it over to you. Should the Twins be buyers as we move past the draft and into trade deadline season? If so, let's hear your ideas about how the team could go about making moves.