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Grading the Twins’ deadline moves (and non-moves)

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The Twins were busy at the non-waiver trade deadline this year, but were they good?

Philadelphia Phillies v Minnesota Twins
How happy do you think Ricky is to be back in southern California though?
Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Now that it’s been a little over 24 hours since MLB’s non-waiver trade deadline, it’s time to sit down and definitively review the Twins’ performance.

The Twins made three deals, sending off Eduardo Nunez, Fernando Abad, Alex Meyer, and Ricky Nolasco. They got four pitchers in return. The Twins did leave some chips on the table, and some fans were mad there weren’t more moves, but 2016 was still the busiest the team has been at the trade deadline in at least ten years. The Twins have had a history of being active on the August waiver-wire, but they have typically been quieter around the non-waiver deadline than they were this year.

So yes, the Twins made moves, but were they good moves? For that, let’s take a look at each individual deal and hand out some grades. We will be using the USDA’s grading system for apples. If you are unfamiliar with this grading system, I don’t know, eat more apples.

Utility Player Eduardo Nunez to Giants for LHP Adalberto Mejia

As much as I love Eduardo Nunez, this was a fantastic trade. The Twins sent a 29-year-old utility player on by far the hottest streak of his career to the Giants and got their number three prospect in return. I mean, want to talk about selling high? This deal was selling high. Plus, the Twins not only got an actual prospect, but an actual starting pitching prospect, which addresses their biggest area of need.

I know some fans are mad the Twins traded their “best player” and only All-Star, but that isn’t looking at the big picture here. Nunez had a few incredibly hot months that will most likely be the best of his career. That and the fact the Twins had to send someone were the only reasons he went to the All-Star Game. In fact, Nunez was already starting to cool off even before the Twins traded him. In the month of July, Nunez hit only .235, second lowest on the team. He also had the lowest on-base percentage on the team that month at .264 and only five extra-base hits.

Sure, Adalberto Mejia is still in AAA and you might not be familiar with him, but he was a fantastic return for the Twins. He is extremely close to starting in MLB and will likely be able to help the Twins rotation next year, if not sooner. Mejia is on the way up and plays in an area where the Twins need help, while Nunez seems to be on the way down in an area where the Twins have numerous other options, such as Eduardo Escobar, Jorge Polanco, Danny Santana, etc.

Grade: U.S. Fancy

What have others said?

Grant Brisbee, McCovey Chronicles:

That doesn’t mean the trade isn’t a little curious. While Nunez will be under contract for 2017 (likely at a very reasonable salary, even after arbitration), he didn’t fit the Giants’ most immediate need, and he cost a top prospect. Mejia was the #3 prospect in the system according to Baseball America’s midseason rankings, one of the closest starting pitchers to the majors.

....

[The Giants] added versatility, though, with more speed and roster flexibility than they’ve had in previous years. The price was high, and the need was uncertain.

LHP Fernando Abad to Red Sox for RHP Pat Light

I don’t think anyone had any complaints with this one, besides the fact we won’t be able to make as many abad jokes anymore. Abad has had a nice year so far and had been solid against lefties, but the Twins aren’t really losing much here. They signed Abad to a minor league contract in the off-season and invited him to spring training, and he pretty much surprised everyone with his success.

Meanwhile, Pat Light is younger, which the Twins need, and can throw really, really hard, which the Twins also need. The only problem with Light is that it’s unclear if we will improve his control and learn to throw strikes to the point where he can be a serviceable major leaguer. He could just be a Jim Hoey—but hey, the Twins didn’t give up a J.J. Hardy to get him.

Grade: U.S. No. 1

What have others said?

Ben Buchanan, Over the Monster:

In return, [the Red Sox] surrender the services of Pat Light. He's got a big arm, and might find his way into a back-end role someday. But to get there, he's going to have to throw strikes, and thus far he hasn't shown the ability to do that. If control comes with time, then hey, the Sox may be missing Light down the line. But for every one of these guys who ends up making it work, you trade away five or six that don't.

Tom O’Donnell, Beyond the Box Score:

In acquiring Abad, the Red Sox may have given up a future back-end bullpen arm. Pat Light, a former first rounder, heads to the Twins, and should join their major league bullpen almost immediately. Now 25, Light has dominated Triple-A this season, striking out almost 10.5 batters per nine innings and allowing just one home run in 31 innings. He has struggled with command and consistency in the past, and his brief stint in the majors did not go well. However, with a fastball that can touch 100, Light has the potential to be a better reliever than Abad ever has been.

RHP Ricky Nolasco and RHP Alex Meyer to Angels for LHP Hector Santiago and RHP Alan Busenitz

The big story here is that the Twins got someone to actually take Ricky Nolasco. Nolasco didn’t pitch well during his time with the Twins, and was often injured and over-paid. Although the Twins are sending $4 million along with Nolasco, making the move not a salary dump, they got back in return another starting pitcher in Hector Santiago to take Ricky’s spot. Hector is younger, at 28 years old, and has had more recent success in the majors than Nolasco.

Of course, the Angels didn’t particularly want Nolasco—this deal was more about Alex Meyer. Meyer, who was considered a top 50 prospect two or so years ago, hasn’t even actually pitched in months due to shoulder issues. He was supposed to pan out as a front-end of the rotation starter, but he’s turning 27 next off-season and none of those expectations are anywhere near fruition.

Alan Busenitz is also a hard thrower who hasn’t been able to make as much progress in the minors as hoped, but also slightly younger than Meyer at 25. Basically, unless Meyer suddenly somehow lives up to his potential, which is highly unlikely, there is no way the Twins lose in this deal.

Grade: U.S. Extra Fancy

What have others said?

Mike Bates, MLB Daily Dish:

Unless the Angels figure out how to fix Meyer, it’s hard to see this as anything but a win for Minnesota, and perhaps a sign that Rob Antony is not overmatched by his new job. For the Angels, it’s deeply puzzling.

Seth Stolhs, Twins Daily:

Twins fans have to be impressed that interim GM Rob Antony was able to find a taker for the frustrating Nolasco and the approximately $18-20 million remaining on his four year-$49 million contract.

Tom Powers, Pioneer Press:

The two new fellows could get run over by a bus while reporting to the Twins and the trade still would be considered an unqualified success.

Moves not made

The Twins had other potential trading chips—most notably, Ervin Santana, Kurt Suzuki, and Brandon Kintzler—who they did not end up moving before the deadline. I, for the most part, am okay with these non-moves. Why?

  1. The Twins need more pitching, and it’s not clear if they would have gotten what they needed by trading Ervin Santana, also a pitcher. Santana has been at least serviceable, and in a bad free-agent market for pitching this off-season, not easily replaceable. So sure, stick around Santana.
  2. Kurt Suzuki could still really easily be moved as a waiver trade.
  3. I doubt the Twins could get more for Brandon Kintzler than they did for Abad, so does it even really matter?

Grade: Combination U.S. Fancy and U.S. No. 1


Overall Trade Deadline Grade: Combination U.S. Extra Fancy and U.S. Fancy

The Twins were busy at the deadline, as they should have been, and all three deals seem like winners. They didn’t do anything too drastic or risky, but they did so something. I am a fan.


How would you grade the Twins moves? Which move was your favorite?