Once July was in full swing, the Minnesota Twins’ needs were in full view. The offense was running at full speed in most aspects of the game. The starting rotation was solid, but slightly faltering as the bullpen was being relied upon heavily. The bullpen had arms, but bridging the gap between the starter and the end-game arms seemed to be the issue. Minnesota needed an upgrade, but who and how? Did the Thad Levine and Derek Falvey need to look for an opener or did they need to focus specifically on the bullpen? Falvine opted to make a couple of trades for the bullpen - nothing too splashy - and call it good.
Some fans (including myself) were maybe expecting or looking for the front office to make a trade for a big-name pitcher. The championship window is open (or just opening, in some opinions) and many fans felt the Twins needed to upgrade and upgrade hard. Once the trade deadline passed and the dust settled, many fans were surprised that Minnesota didn’t acquire a big name. But does that mean the Twins were a bust at the trade deadline?
Offense and defense
Starting with the easiest and most obvious part of the team, the offense speaks for itself. There’s a reason they’re called the Bomba Squad and they’re breaking records (MLB and franchise) left and right, so there was no reason to change anything about position players or trade up at any position. Additionally, the organisation has plenty of depth to work with, and the players that have been used while main players were on the Injured List have mostly proved that they can play at the same pace.
The Twins had committed 72 errors in the field through Wednesday, which is 11th-highest in the MLB. Their fielding percentage is .982 turns the table a bit as that’s good for tenth-best in the majors and just about league average (.983). Lastly, 10.5% of runs allowed by the Twins are unearned runs, which is fourth-highest in the MLB. Although the number of errors could be considered a concern, the team is still young and improvements will surely be seen, so there were still no reasons to trade for any position players.
The Twins made clear to fans that they were aware of the bullpen issues, giving four relievers - Mike Morin, Matt Magill, Adalberto Mejia, and Blake Parker - the boot. Although there has been a lot of bullpen churn this season, the reinforcements, younger arms that are considered prospects and part of the future, have been helpful in their part.
However, the Twins needed to acquire a couple of successful and proven pitchers to solidify the bullpen as it was the most glaring problem. The starting rotation could continue to hold their own. Even with a merry-go-round bullpen, the Twins could rely on pitchers like Lewis Thorpe, Sean Poppen, Devin Smeltzer, Zack Littell, and Kohl Stewart, to be called up and effectively fill in when needed. The Twins needed set-up men.
Starting pitchers market
Although the Twins didn’t need to get a starting pitcher, the front office was rumored to be talking to teams about starting pitchers. However, the later it got into the month of July, the market seemed to pretty clearly change. Marcus Stroman was already traded. Madison Bumgarner and the San Francisco Giants went on a tear to become possible contenders for a National League Wild Card spot. Zack Greinke would not wave his no-trade clause for Minnesota. The New York Mets were asking a steep price - star center-fielder Byron Buxton and more - for Noah Syndergaard.
Other starters on the market that the Twins inquired about, including Robbie Ray, Mike Minor, and others, were probably asking too much as well, or didn’t fit the profile that the front office had to bump one of the current starting pitchers from the rotation.
On both sides, pitching and position players, the team has been able to rely on the depth of the Twins farm system. Players like Luis Arraez, Willians Astudillo, Thorpe, Smeltzer, and others, have been able to contribute to the team’s cause in a positive way. The Twins have a vast depth of players at many positions, and why would the front office want to part with that? The team has proven that with the players they have now, including the talent they have in the wings, they are most certainly playoff-bound.
The players that Minnesota parted with were those who most likely would not see playing time in the majors with the Twins due to log jams at their primary positions. Although most of the team is young, the Twins do lose Jason Castro, Michael Pineda, Jonathan Schoop, Jake Odorizzi, and Kyle Gibson to free agency after the completion of this season. Nelson Cruz and Martin Perez have club options. Those are some big shoes to fill, and some young guys are ready to fill those spots while younger prospects that the Twins kept from trading away are ready to move up and wait for their call.
Trades the Twins made
I’m not going to get in-depth with the trades, as Cole has provided his analysis of each acquisition the front office made. But the Twins did make two trades for proven bullpen arms.
Sergio Romo, a rental, is a proven and seasoned veteran who has won three World Series with the San Francisco Giants during his decade-plus long career. His presence in the clubhouse and the bullpen is a great addition for younger pitchers just starting to make their mark on the game and in their careers.
Sam Dyson also has some postseason experience and has a number of years on his resume. Additionally, the Twins were able to acquire Dyson while he still has one year left of arbitration eligibility, securing him for one more season as the team continues to build their young core of bullpen arms.
No, the Twins didn’t go all-in and add a big-name starting pitcher. Heck, Romo and Dyson aren’t even huge splashes and considered elite pitchers. But the Twins’ actions at the trade deadline certainly is not a bust. The Twins are something special this year, and not many changes had to be made at the trade deadline.
Both Romo and Dyson have the presence and postseason experience to help a young team maneuver a run to the playoffs and into the postseason series that lay ahead of them. Being proven veterans, they help bridge the gap by being set-up men as well as possibly some closing situations, earning the opportunity to be added to a long list of relievers who have earned a save with the team this season.
Heck, they may even be on the list of players to receive rings next year when the Twins win the World Series in 2019.
How would you rate the Twins’ moves at the trade deadline?
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