Think the Twins need some bullpen help? Would you be interested in an ace-level starter? Don’t think the “cheap Pohlads” have the guts to pull off a couple of quality deals to help strengthen the roster?
Well, luckily, the Pohlads aren’t the ones doing the trading, as Falvine will be manning the phone lines come July. And while some may question the Twins’ willingness to deal their prospects for major leaguers at the deadline, there are more reasons than you probably think why the Twins will pull off multiple deals at the deadline.
Falvey and Levine have stated that they will be aggressive when the time comes for the club to pursue a postseason run, and I don’t think it can be any more obvious than it is now that the winning window is open and ready for the Twins head onto the path of Winnersville.
It’s obvious that the bullpen will need some upgrades before the fall of autumn, and a top-tier starter would also be helpful in making a playoff run. Acquiring these talents may come at a high cost, but the Twins prospect depth is equipped for just such a situation. And if the Twins don’t end up trading those prospects this summer, they may lose them anyway to one of baseball’s classic quirks: the Rule 5 draft.
You can read a more in-depth explanation of the Rule 5 draft here, but essentially what you need to know is that minor league players are be able to picked in the draft after five years in professional baseball if they are signed at 18 or earlier, and four years if they are signed at 19 or older. Once picked, the Rule 5 pick has to remain on the team’s 25-man roster for the whole season or he will be subjected to waivers and then sent back to their former team.
Fangraphs post-draft rankings have the Twins’ farm system ranked seventh in baseball. The Twins do have some top end talent, but the strength in their system is in their depth. They rank third in baseball with a 38 prospects who have a 40 or higher future value on Fangraphs’ rankings, behind just the Padres and Rays. With a bevy of quality mid-level prospects, the Twins won’t be able to stash all of them on the 40-man roster, and it would be better to use those assets than expose them to the Rule 5 draft. Here is a list of notable Twins prospects that will be available in the Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. I sorted them into three tiers according to the value that may fetch in a deadline deal
Tier 1: A main piece in a trade for a high-level target
- Brusdar Graterol (AA)
Tier Two: A main piece in a trade for a quality trade target (likely relief) or second piece for a high-level target
- Jorge Alcala (AA)
- Wander Javier (Low-A)
- Jhoan Duran (A+)
Tier Three: A main piece for a mid-to-low level trade target or a 2nd or 3rd piece for a more valuable MLB asset
- Griffin Jax (AA)
- Travis Blankenhorn (AA)
- Lewin Diaz (A+)
Tier Four: A decent throw-in piece in any trade
- Jaylin Davis (AAA)
- Luke Raley (AAA)
- Zander Weil (AAA)
A special thanks to Jeremy Nygaards’ Twins Roster and Payroll spreadsheet, where I was able to spot Rule 5 eligible players.
That list includes some of the Twins top prospects, as well as a few mid-level guys having good seasons. I wouldn’t expect a majority of them to be bumped up to the 40-man in the offseason, so they could be quality trade bait as the Twins approach the deadline. Ideally the Twins will make a couple trades for more than rentals at the deadline and sign a quality starter or two in free agency, and with a pretty solid core it doesn’t seem likely that there will be a ton of spots open on the Twins 40-man roster for next season.
While some fans may be concerned the Twins’ front office won’t pull the trigger at the deadline because they will instead hold on tight to their prospects, this philosophy wouldn’t make a whole lot of sense. With a list of quality players that could be selected in the Rule 5 and one of the deepest farm systems in the big leagues, the Twins need to deal some of their prospects to recoup value. And I have faith that Falvine will do just that once the calendar swings to July.