Now that the dust has cleared — from the trade deadline, not another Matt Belisle outing — we can take a look at where the Twins stand as we move into the final two months of the season.
- SP Lance Lynn
- RP Zach Duke
- RP Ryan Pressly
- 2B Brian Dozier
- 3B Eduardo Escobar
And of course, the guys that are now members of the Twins organization. The organizational level(s) played this year will be listed in parentheses.
- SP Jhoan Duran (A)
- SP/RP Jorge Alcala (A+/AA)
- SP/RP Luis Rijo (rookie/A-/A+)
- SP Chase De Jong (AA, has 2017 major league experience)
- SP/RP Devin Smeltzer (AA)
- 1B/3B Ryan Costello (A)
- 1B/LF/RF Tyler Austin (AAA/majors)
- 1B/OF Luke Raley (AA)
- 2B/3B Logan Forsythe (majors)
- OF Ernie De La Trinidad (A)
- OF Gabriel Maciel (A)
- OF Gilberto Celestino (A-)
It should be noted that while five players left the Twins, only De Jong, Austin, and Forsythe had to be added to the 40-man roster, meaning the organization has two open roster spots which could very well be used in September when the active roster expands from 25 players to 40. I’m not going to pretend that I know anything about these players other than the ones that have already seen major league action, so instead I’ll direct you to FanGraphs where they ranked every single prospect traded since the Orioles shipped Manny Machado to Los Angeles. Rankings are based on the 20-80 scouting scale, which this FanGraphs article does a good job of explaining. After all these trades, FanGraphs has placed the incoming prospects as 14th (Celestino), 15th (Duran), 21st (Rijo), 22nd (Maciel), 25th (Smeltzer)*, 29th (Alcala), and 32nd (Costello). Players like De La Trinidad and Raley weren’t on the top prospects list due to their age and/or position, and I find it interesting that they claim that Duran has the best pure stuff out of any minor league pitcher that was acquired.
* Smeltzer falls between #28 Tyler Jay and #29 Alcala yet is ranked as #25.
I feel that this is an opportune time to address the elephant that you’ve likely already seen from someone near and dear to you. Someone you know is probably complaining that these five players were traded for nobodies, except 1) Escobar himself was once a “nobody” when the Twins traded away Francisco Liriano, and 2) Jake Cave was also a “nobody” when the Twins made a quiet pre-Opening Day trade and now he’s making people forget about Byron Buxton when he’s not making fruitless dives at liners that drop feet away from his extended glove, and 3) Ehire Adrianza was a waiver claim “nobody” that has been worth 1.3 fWAR over 400 at-bats as a Twin, and 4) frankly 90% of baseball players in MLB are “nobodies” until they spend more than half a season in the major leagues for the local club. The Twins added a lot of talent to the organization and yes, the vast majority will never contribute anything meaningful to the major league club, but that’s the nature of the game, not an indictment of the front office. If you’re going to complain, you’re a person that likes complaining and thus you should get off my Twinkie Town lawn.
We should probably also talk about the players that benefited from the five that were sent out. Forsythe will get Dozier’s roster spot, but then the following were brought up from the minor leagues.
- RP Gabriel Moya
- RP Addison Reed
- RP Trevor May
- 1B/3B/DH Miguel Sano
All of these names are ones that you should recognize and because of that, I also find it laughable when I see people claiming that the Twins are tanking and/or tearing up the roster. Pressly was the only player traded that had at least one more year of control and yet I felt that the average Twins fan undervalued him. The other four players were all gone at the end of the year and while we’d like to think of Dozier and Escobar as career Twins, a player spending his entire career with one team just doesn’t happen that often anymore. The organization traded away five players and replaced them with five other players that also have major league experience, suggesting that the Twins didn’t engage in a teardown. Moya has gaudy Triple-A numbers and is one of many Rochester relievers that warrant an extended look in the majors. Reed was coming of the disabled list and is under contract for next year. May was deemed ready after rehabbing from 2017 Tommy John surgery, as was Sano after he apparently forgot or stopped caring on how to be a major leaguer.
There’s no question that the team has downgraded after the trade deadline - though Adalberto Mejia in the rotation is probably no difference from Lynn - but I feel the tradeoff is much smaller than many people may realize. If Sano hasn’t been fixed, there is a big jump from Escobar to him, and there’s a big power difference between Dozier and Forsythe, but Duke was a LOOGY that is being replaced by Moya, a lefty that has dominated Triple-A. After spending time on the DL, Reed hopefully steps in to fill Pressly’s hole as a setup man, and May has been performing better of late and can function as a low leverage reliever for the rest of the season.
Otherwise, I look at the roster and see very little is different even though 20% of the active roster has been shipped off, and thus I don’t think the organization is giving up on being competitive over the next couple years. I’ve seen plenty of takes that have been pessimistic towards Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, yet I think they made the best possible play they could this year. They saw a vulnerable Cleveland club, acquired multiple players on low-cost, short-term contracts, failed to build a competitive team, and then sold off those low-cost players to improve for the future. They could have stayed put at the deadline in an attempt to pass the Indians, but there’s no way this team would have been competitive with the Red Sox, Yankees, or Astros in the playoffs. I get that the fan base is playoff-starved, but I’d rather see the team make a deep playoff run than make it to the ALDS and get bounced in four or five games.
After the trade deadline, it may look bleak on the surface but I think the Twins are in a similar position entering 2019 as they were when they entered 2018. The potential loss of Dozier and Escobar will sting, but hopefully the infusion of guys like Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon, along with better performances from Sano and Reed will help along with whatever free agent or trade acquisitions come our way this winter. I don’t think Falvey and Levine are rebuilding this team for 2019, but rather they’re reloading for another run at it next season.
PS: Grant Brisbee of SB Nation called the Twins winners at the trade deadline, even though it took some prodding (and underselling what the Twins even did) to get him to admit it.
The Twins aren't even on this list, which is impressive after trading away a starting pitcher, a good reliever, and half their starting infield. https://t.co/3VtKXJ0LNK— Andrew Bryzgornia (@BryzTwinkieTown) July 31, 2018
I updated. Was an oversight on my part.— Grant Brisbee (@GrantBrisbee) July 31, 2018