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Twins trade rumors: Exploring the shortstop market

Terry Ryan's second area of focus is shortstop. Jesse takes a look at the market.

Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

You have to hand it to the Royals. Dayton Moore is operating an organization that clearly believes its window of opportunity isn't long for this baseball world, and he's made moves to match by acquiring top-end starter Johnny Cueto and the versatile Ben Zobrist. The Cueto deal is beneficial although costly, but Zobrist cost Kansas City Sean Manaea - their first round pick in 2013 - and 25-year old right-hander Aaron Brooks. On the surface it looks like an overpay, but once again: if the Royals win the last game of the season, it won't matter.

The Twins, meanwhile, sit in a different position. Their window has opened a year earlier than expected, but they're still a team with multiple holes. Per Terry Ryan in Phil Miller's story this morning, he's "very receptive" to ideas involving shortstops. Ted went over Minnesota's situation with shortstops internally, but let's take a look at the trade market to see if there are any good fits for the Twins. Even with Zobrist now off the board, is there another veteran who could make the team better?

Troy Tulowitzki, Blue Jays

There's been speculation on Twitter and elsewhere that Toronto would turn around and flip Tulowitzki, but that's pretty silly. When the Rockies dealt Tulowitzki, a no-trade clause in his contract was activated. Every team in baseball is aware of it, which means any dialogue that the Blue Jays choose to have about him would immediately zap the heavy end of his trade value. The Twins aren't getting Tulowitzki, and neither is anyone else.

Elvis Andrus, Rangers

In his seventh season, Andrus is still just 26 years old. But he's having the worst season of his career and has hit just .263/.317/.331 going back to 2013. That would be an upgrade over Minnesota's shortstops, who are batting a combined .250/.282/.364, but trading for Andrus is a massive commitment. He's under contract through 2022 with a vesting option 2023, which is $103 million without the option. Granted, Andrus has an opt-out clause after the 2018 and 2019 seasons, but that's no comfort. Barring a massive financial reimbursement from the Rangers, it's hard to see anyone - much less the Twins - making serious calls on the Texas shortstop.

Alexei Ramirez, White Sox

There have been times in his career where Ramirez has raked versus left-handed pitching or flashed good power for his position, but 2015 is not one of those times. His triple slash would actually make the Twins' shortstop totals worse, which is hard to do, and none of his skills are flashing highly enough to make him a good pickup as an option versus southpaw starting pitching. Pass.

Jean Segura, Brewers

Milwaukee's 25-year old shortstop showed early promise, hitting .294/.329/.423 as a 23-year old in his first taste of a starting role in the bigs in 2013. He's been significantly less productive since and is batting .272/.301/.346 through 82 games this year. He's arbitration eligible for the first time this winter and is under team control through 2019, so if an organization thinks the talent is buried and can buy low that's a decent strategy. Just, perhaps, not for a team trying to get better this year.

Jimmy Rollins, Dodgers

Rollins is hitting .212/271/.355 and, from the reports I've seen, doesn't look like he's going to shake off his slow start. I always hate to say a guy is done, but the fact that the Dodgers might be willing to shift their starting shortstop in the middle of a pennant race says all you need to know.

Brad Miller, Mariners

If the Twins wanted a good defensive shortstop who isn't terrible at the plate, Miller might be a fit. He's only hitting .234/.312/.383, but his 10% walk rate, base running acumen, and strong arm help him to make up for somewhat lacking contact skills. At this point a 98 OPS+ from shortstop with good defense looks very tempting. Seattle might ask for a fair return however, considering Miller isn't even arbitration eligible until 2017.

Starlin Castro, Cubs

Castro is interesting, because I'm not sure that Chicago wouldn't be more willing to get rid of him than Minnesota would be to acquire him. Under contract through 2019, Castro's age-29 season, his salary is never crippling. One of the Cubs' biggest issues with Castro is his inability to consistently play to his talent level, which is frustrating. He makes mental mistakes far too often and he doesn't have the best range for a player of his skill set. On the offensive side Castro is hitting fewer line drives than at any other point in his career, is starting to pull the ball a lot more, and his eye at the dish isn't developing to help off-set a big dip in batting average and power.

For a guy who batted .297/.336/.425 through the first three seasons of his career, Castro almost looks like he's working in reverse. But he also hit .292/.339/.438 last year, so if there's a team that wants to buy low and thinks they can find a way to focus Chicago's struggling shortstop, there's potential for a nice deal here. It's a risk, and not a short-term one, either. This one is interesting.

Jose Reyes, Rockies

Reyes is under contract through 2017, including the remainder of the $22 million he's owed this season as well as $22 million in 2016 and 2017. There's a team option for the same amount to 2018 that includes a $4 million buyout. That means any team happy to see Colorado flip Reyes would have him for his age-33 and 34 seasons.

For a player who has averaged 115 games for the last six years, that salary might not be scary in length but it's scary in terms of dollars. If the Rockies are willing to subsidize Reyes, perhaps bringing his cost to $10 million for both '16 and '17, that might make a team like the Twins more open to taking on the risk.

Through 69 games this year, Reyes has hit .285/.322/.385 with 17 walks, 38 strikeouts, and 16 stolen bases in 18 attempts. He's not the star he used to be, but with his speed and contact skills there's no doubt that he'd make Minnesota better.

Reyes is on pace to finish 2015 as roughy a 2-fWAR player, capable of being a two to three-win player for the next couple of years provided he's healthy. If Colorado pays $10 to $12 million of Reyes' contract per year, it's at least a palatable risk. It wouldn't require anything in Minnesota's top ten or fifteen, but Terry Ryan would still have to be ready to move a couple of fair prospects.

What about you? Is there a shortstop not on this list you'd be willing to take a chance on, or are you leaning towards standing pat with internal options?