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What to do at the trade deadline?

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Despite trailing Cleveland by nearly 10 games in the AL Central, it’s not completely clear whether the Twins should buy or sell at the July 31st trade deadline.

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians
Let’s pretend umpire D.J. Reyburn is giving Paul Molitor pointers on what to expect for this year’s trade deadline.
Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

I don’t know why I’m writing - er, typing - this. As far as I’m concerned, the entire notion is completely absurd. Cleveland currently leads the AL Central by 8 12 games and after winning five games in a row, the Twins were blown out by the lowly Kansas City Royals. Granted, those five wins came against the Royals and the equally bad Baltimore Orioles, but a win is a win, right?

Because of those wins and the fact that the Twins still have ~35 games against the Royals, White Sox, and Tigers, along with 10 games against the Indians who haven’t quite run away with the Central yet, it still seems attainable for the Twins to move up to first place. Therefore, even though they’re currently at 40-49 and firmly in 2nd place in the Central, I’ve been seeing ideas that the Twins shouldn’t just stay put at the trade deadline at the end of the month, but that they even should consider adding pieces for a possible run this year and beyond.

I understand that Cleveland has been a disappointment this year in spite of Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor, and Trevor Bauer being absolute monsters on the field. Yes, I see their piecemeal bullpen and a weak offense behind Ramirez and Lindor. Yet, I just don’t have the faith in the Twins overtaking what might be a sleeping giant, or even being able to beat the teams that loom above the Indians. The Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, and Mariners all have winning percentages above .625 while the Twins are currently at .449. Even if they hit a hot streak after the All-Star Game and manage to make it into the playoffs, there’s a very good chance they’ll enter as the worst playoff team. Spare me the “anything can happen in the playoffs” speech, the Twins need a lot to happen to even get to that point. Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano would need to return and be productive, Logan Morrison would need to bounce back from his career-worst season, and the bullpen would need to become more consistent.

Simply put, I think there’s too much for the Twins to overcome to even think about winning the AL Central. However, I don’t meant to entirely discount Nick Nelson’s piece linked above about acquiring J.T. Realmuto from Miami. I must admit, he would help immensely not just this season but over the next couple years as well. His price tag would be enormous and it would sting not having players like Alex Kirilloff and Brusdar Graterol in a few years. Yet, Realmuto would be a significant upgrade over Jason Castro, Mitch Garver, and any other catchers that would be trotted out next season. Plus, I’ll admit that this is not a Twins roster that needs to be blown up. Yes, the organization should jettison Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, and any other players at the deadline that are deemed expendable, but the 2018 season should be viewed as a reset, not a rebuild.

Realistically, I don’t think acquiring Realmuto will happen, but I also don’t think the Twins should be looking at being competitive several years down the road. This season has been a disappointment, but I think they should look to position themselves as a contender in 2019. That might mean parting with Brian Dozier or Eduardo Escobar, but hopefully the front office doesn’t get too eager to part with multiple key parts of the roster.