Really, the only two things holding me back throughout my life course, have been an acute lack of ability and a similar lack of motivation. I suspect that is why I’m not presently an MLB General Manager, but if I were the Twins GM, as we near the trade deadline, I’d actually consider nobody on the roster to be untouchable. It’s not that I don’t see the vast potential of Kepler, Arraez, Sano, Buxton, Berrios, or the importance of Cruz, Rosario, Polanco, Gonzalez, and Garver, among others, I just think all potential trades should be considered, if the GM genuinely believes the trade will improve the team.
As of this moment, Dobnak, Maeda, Duffey, and Rogers seem critical to our pitching staff. May, and Romo and Clippard perhaps are too, or are just a slight notch behind. Everyone else on the roster, including Donaldson, and Odorizzi, neither of whom has contributed much to the 12-7 start, should absolutely be considered in a trade, if reasonable offers are made. Truthfully, I think Berrios, even though young, has shown vastly more “potential” than results. If another team would overpay for that potential, then let them.
Obviously, there are so many contractual factors involved in trades, such as length of service time, free agency-to-be status, as well as money and years, of course, that “simple” trades aren’t always so simple, but good GMs (as the Twins seem to have) need to be open to a myriad of possibilities. They should be equally reluctant to close the door on those possibilities, even if the trade might be controversial.
One of the best trades I remember the Twins making was Bobby Kielty to Toronto for Shannon Stewart. Kielty seemed to have unlimited upside at the time and was far younger than Stewart. Many fans immediately judged the trade as mortgaging the future for a temporary fix. But, as it turned out, Kielty became little more than a journeyman, though a solid journeyman, and Stewart propelled the Twins in the leadoff spot for a couple of truly memorable years. We got, it turns out, far more than we gave.
When that trade was made, there were the usual concerns about “chemistry” and shaking up a winning team and all of those things that often paralyze our ability to make a trade. There is always the concern that a player who finds himself on the trading block will somehow be shaken into poor performance or morale because of that knowledge. It seems to me that a shrewd GM would be able to do just the opposite if all players, at all times, know that the GM will stop at nothing to improve the team. Everybody [even the manager, I guess (can managers be traded?)] is on the trading block at all times, and thus, when the deadline passes, everybody will rest assured, that their presence on the team, is because the GM sincerely believes the team is better because of their presence on the team.
If the phone rang with a request for Buxton, Berrios, or Sano, or anyone else for that matter, it is critical that the Twins brain-trust take the call. They don’t ultimately have to pull the trigger, but the rhetoric of GMs everywhere “we’re always looking for ways to improve the ballclub”… should be the reality even when it comes to the “best” young players on the team.
Some of you reading this might be thinking “it’s easy for the writer, who most assuredly isn’t in the position of an MLB GM, to speculate wildly about what he’d do if given the chance.” True enough. If I were the Twins GM and was offered a player or players in trade for Berrios or Buxton or Sano or God forbid, Kepler, Rosario, or Cruz, it would be the easiest thing in the world to just say no. The best trades are the ones you don’t make and all of that. Not trading away extremely popular players would probably make me more popular among fans I might run into in public places (though, in truth, now that I’d be wearing a mask…it would make recognizing me in public significantly more difficult).
But I’d remember that Kielty for Stewart trade, and understand that trades can’t be evaluated immediately. If a trade helps the team, make it. Seriously, we embraced Brett Favre in this town, after we despised him for years. We cheered for Latrell Sprewell, and who can look themselves in the mirror now knowing that? If the Indians want to send us Clevinger, or if the Reds want to send us Trevor Bauer, we’ll embrace those reprobates just as easily. It may take a start or two, but if they help us win, we’ll buy their jerseys, and cheer them as loudly as we do the guys we really “like.” So, pick up the phone, don’t be afraid to be bold, rewards require risk.
Of course, there was that Jason Bartlett/Matt Garza for Delmon Young/Brendan Harris trade that I think we might need to have a word about, and going way back, I can’t say that the Tom Brunansky for Tommy Herr trade was an unmitigated success either. So, you win some, you lose some. Perhaps due diligence would suggest that you not trade for head cases like Tommy Herr and Delmon Young, and concentrate on getting quality teammates like Shannon Stewart, but beyond that…do what you have to do. We’ll be on board.
Of course, if you do get the chance to get Trevor Bauer or Mike Clevinger, you might want to revisit that Delmon Young history I just mentioned…but, hey, if it works, it works. If this stuff were easy, every GM would be a genius, and if predicting the future were simple, I’d be sitting on millions of dollars of Amazon, Tesla, and Apple stock. Who knew?