In a truncated season, I personally thought it was insane to have a trade deadline. Maybe it’s because I though, “Well, the Minnesota Twins are well off, so there’s no reason to.” However, I forgot the portion of training I took in a previous job where customer service representatives need to “put themselves in the customer’s shoes” or just in others’ shoes in general. Well, the Twins have faced what most clubs have faced this season: injuries, and quite a bit of them, especially to the pitching staff.
Not only has the team faced injuries to the pitching side of the roster, but the performance of pitchers have not been ideal in recent weeks. Of course, the offense is to blame as well for not doing their part. Either way, Minnesota can look in the rear-view mirror and see Cleveland and the Chicago White Sox in hot pursuit for a playoff berth and it’s nearing the halfway point of the season.
The trade deadline is nearing; all transactions must be completed by 3p Central on August 31, a little more than a week away. Additionally, teams are restricted on which players they can trade this year. Only players in the 60-man pool (a combination of the current roster, the taxi squad, and the alternate training site roster) can be traded this season, leading some teams to the possibility of being handcuffed as they cannot trade any lower-level players - unless they are in the 60-man pool, of course.
So with the Twins in the position they are in now, what should the front office look for as next Monday approaches?
After the recent flurry of roster moves this week, it’s no secret that the Twins’ starting rotation is in some need of help. Jake Odorizzi landed on the I.L. again after taking a liner to the chest. Homer Bailey has been moved to the long-term 45-day Injured List with a biceps injury. Rich Hill has returned, but put up a clunker performance. Hopeful starting rotation candidate and southpaw Lewis Thorpe was left out of the rotation and is now in St Paul at the alternate site. Rocco Baldelli has often resorted to bullpen games with Devin Smeltzer leading the way after an opener.
The current starting rotation comprises of Kenta Maeda, who is putting up a banner year; Jose Berrios, who looks to be possibly turning a corner again after his last start; Randy Dobnak, a Rookie of the Year and Cy Young candidate; and the aforementioned Hill. Michael Pineda is due to return from his suspension on August 31.
It’s not to say that the starting staff have necessarily put up ugly numbers so far this season. Through Friday’s game, the Twins’ starters are generally in the top 10 in the league for a handful of statistics according to FanGraphs:
- ERA: 6th (3.58)
- FIP: 5th (4.06)
- BABIP: 2nd (.236)
- BAA: 3rd (.206)
- WAR: Tied 6th (2.2)
However, with the merry-go-round of recent roster moves and injuries, it would be ideal to have a mid- or back-of-the-rotation arm added to the team for some depth.
The Twins bullpen could be considered a bit unstable, but not as many ballclubs’ relief corps. The Minnesota relievers rank about middle-of-the-pack in the same categories that were seen for the starting pitchers:
- ERA: 5th (3.46)
- FIP: 17th (4.43)
- BABIP: 14th (.282)
- BAA: 16th (.235)
- WAR: 11th (1.2)
If Derek Falvey and Thad Levine can find a reliable bullpen arm who is hot this season to add to the arsenal of relievers, it can help bridge the gap from the starter to the set-up/closing crew of Tyler Duffey, Trevor May, Sergio Romo, and Taylor Rogers.
Another bat is probably not likely to be traded to Minnesota this season, and it’s understandably not a priority item. But the Bomba Squad is down a power hitter in Josh Donaldson, who doesn’t have a timeline to return, as well as Byron Buxton, who showed some life in his bat for an extended stretch this season. Additionally, the offense has been much quieter than the 2019 campaign. Essentially, a spark in the lineup might lead to a fire (in a good way).
If the Twins were to trade for a power hitter before the end of the month, the team would need to figure out where to put the new player on the field. Nelson Cruz is entrenched in the Designated Hitter spot. A most likely scenario would be Minnesota trading for a third baseman at the end of his contract to use as a rental player.
What is the Twins’ most glaring need?
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