Looking at the big picture, we’re not even a third of the way into the season. The Twins still have 110 games left to play at the time of this writing, and we have seen letdowns from many Minnesota teams in the past. The baseball season is a marathon and not a sprint, but…
Dang this team is fun to watch! They also currently possess the best record in the MLB, and now have an ten (!) game lead over the Cleveland Indians in the American League Central. The depth is there, and unless a rash of injuries hits the team, they look very likely to make the playoffs. Fangraphs currently has the Twins odds at 95.0% to make the playoffs (89.8% to win the division) while 538 puts them 94% to advance to the postseason (89% to win the division).
Thus, it’s time for the Twins to become legitimate buyers at the deadline. Falvine talked before the season about “the window” having to be opened for winning and making a real playoff push before they would invest significant assets or funds in the team. At this point in the season, I think it’s safe to say that the window is popped open and sunshine is beaming through. So let’s look at a wide variety of trade partners and targets that the Twins could have, subject to change throughout the summer.
As we are still in late May, there are still a lot of names that could potentially be out on the market. To break these down, I created three group of teams: a group of teams that seems extremely likely to be selling at the deadline, a bunch that will likely be trading assets, and a group that could be either buyers or sellers. To avoid having to look at a lot of names in one sitting, I will be releasing these groups in three separate posts. This begins with the first and most likely to sell group, the Surefire Sellers.
These teams are all looking like they will likely be selling at the deadline and looking forward to the future. Not all of these guys may actually be available come June or July, but they are potentially targets for Twins going forward. These lists will feature just pitchers, as the lineup has been quite the strength for the Twins and is incredibly deep.
Toronto Blue Jays
SP Marcus Stroman (R)
RP Ken Giles (R)
Both Stroman and Giles have a year left on their contracts, and the both seem like potential fits for the Twins. Stroman is having one of the best seasons of his career as a starter (2.74 ERA), while Giles has a minuscule 1.25 ERA out the pen. Both have had their ups and downs over their career, and may be slightly risky (albeit high-upside) acquisitions. Stroman would cost more in prospect capital as a starter, though he could be quite the upgrade if Pineda struggles (or another starter gets hurt). Stroman also has another year left on his deal, meaning he would be more than just a two or three month rental.
RP Mychal Givens (R)
There’s not a lot of great options on an awful Orioles team, but Givens has some potential and has shown some flashes of top-level bullpen talent. He’s been on a bad streak lately so his 2019 numbers don’t look great, but he likely will come back to his career norms, which are pretty solid. Givens might be a bit more expensive, as he has still has two more seasons until he becomes a free agent.
Kansas City Royals
RP Ian Kennedy (R)
RP Jake Diekman (L)
A former starter, Kennedy has transitioned into a high-leverage bullpen role for the Royals and has done pretty well, though a recent rough outing jumped his ERA from 3.05 to 4.15. Hehas also seen an uptick in strikeouts and a decrease in walk rate, with a 2.55 FIP to suggest that he’s been better than his ERA suggests. Diekman is a southpaw who is also having success this season, and is nasty against fellow lefties, as they sport a .074 batting average against him this season. Neither would be too expensive, though the Twins would have to take on significant salary to acquire Kennedy. Diekman’s contract expires after 2019, and he almost certainly will make his way onto a contender with his proficiency against lefties.
Chicago White Sox
RP Alex Colome (R)
RP Kelvin Herrera (R)
Colome has been excellent for the White Sox so far in the closer role, posting a 1.83 ERA and a 0.61 WHIP. His career numbers aren’t extremely far off those marks, and he would be a good get for the back end of the Twins ‘pen. Herrera has had success in the past and has playoff experience with the Royals, but would only be a good trade target if was able to turn it around this season (6.97 2019 ERA). Both have another year left on their contract, but Colome would be more expensive because of performance and age.
RP Shane Greene (R)
RP Daniel Stumpf (L)
Like Colome, Greene has been sublime in a closer role for a supposed AL Central cellar dweller, posting a 1.23 ERA and racking up a league-leading 16 saves. Stumpf isn’t anything special, mostly a LOOGY who in his career has held lefties to a .649 OPS and would probably pitch almost solely against left-handers for the Twins (at least in high leverage situations). Greene has another year of team control, while Stumpf has three. It seems likely that Greene will be dealt as one of the more high-profile relievers at the deadline, and his second year of team control may make him more expensive.
RP Roenis Elias (L)
Elias has served has the Mariners closer this year and has pitched alright, posting a 3.91 ERA and a 9.9 K/9. However, he still has two years left of team control on his contract, making a deal unlikely. His status as a southpaw may make him more attractive to the Twins, who currently have just Taylor Rogers in the bullpen when it comes to lefties.
RP Sergio Romo (R)
Romo is a 3-time World Series champ with the Giants, and pitched quite well last year for the Rays before getting traded to the Dodgers. Since then he hasn’t been good at all, and it seems unlikely that the Twins will pursue him unless he gets on a bit of roll. He’s also 36 and on an expiring deal, making him likely trade bait. He’s currently sporting a 4.50 ERA.
San Francisco Giants
SP Madison Bumgarner (L)
SP Jeff Samardzija (R)
RP Will Smith (L)
RP Sam Dyson (R)
RP Tony Watson (L)
RP Mark Melancon (R)
Holy buckets, the Giants have a lot of pitchers that could be on the trade market! I won’t run through all of their stats for this season, but you can take a look at the Giants 2019 pitchers here. Bumgarner is obviously the biggest name here and on an expiring deal, but I don’t think the Twins will pay a pretty penny for a two or three month rental. Smith is the best reliever of the bunch and would likely be the most expensive, but is also on an expiring deal. Dyson is having a quality season as well, while Tony Watson is kind of like a better version of Zach Duke (lefty with better numbers and a little more heat). Melancon has battled injury issues in the past few seasons, but was once one of the top relievers in the NL. A Twins-Giants deal could be similar to the Padres-Indians trade last year, where two relievers (Brad Hand and Adam Cimber) were set to the Indians.
Who on these lists would you want to see wearing a Twins uniform in August and September? Let me know in the comments below! An look for part 2 of this series later this week to find out about other possible trade targets for the Twins!