Yes, it happened quickly, and no, it’s unlikely that any team in the league feels absolutely comfortable making massive, potentially course-altering decisions based on a month of data in a wonky season filled with more “summer camps” than fans in the stands.
Alas, here we are. And since the Twins are one of the five or so teams considered most likely to win the World Series, they must consider themselves to be “buyers.” It won’t be in the traditional sense of the term, of course; it would be shocking to see any team ship off a top prospect for a piece that they hope puts them over the top in what is basically a crapshoot of a season.
But just in the past couple of days we’ve seen bench pieces and veteran arms change teams in peripheral moves that contenders make to ensure that they have as many players to fill random niches and needs as possible.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the Twins roster. The team is fairly deep, and they’ve rode much of that depth to a 20-12 start to the season. But what, if anything, do the Twins need most as we hurtle towards Wednesday’s deadline?
Let’s count down a top three.
3. A bench bat
I know, I know, it’s the Twins and they theoretically have a potent offense, although it’s been far more pedestrian through the first 32 games of he 2020 season than it was at any point in 2019.
After all, a “veteran bench bat” is the all-time favorite trade target of contending teams. Remember when the Twins acquired Phil Nevin down the stretch of the 2006 season? His .190/.340/.286 line is the stuff of legends.
But ... Ehire Adrianza is the Twins’ top pinch-hitting option as of right now. And while a lot of that has to do with injuries — a fully healthy roster would likely have Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave as options as well — it still feels like an area where the front office could dig up a veteran thumper (I use that term loosely) that would hang out on the bench at least until the roster gets healthy.
Yes, the Twins have prospects at their alternate training site in St. Paul, but it isn’t the best use of service time or development for an Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, or Brent Rooker to spend a couple weeks in the big leagues at this point in time.
I recognize that this isn’t Ron Gardenhire’s Twins, and also that it’s 2020 and not 2005, but a Buxton-less roster is effectively a speed-less roster for the Twins.
Falvine and Rocco Baldelli obviously care on some level about this, as they put Aaron Whitefield on the initial 30-man roster and made a point to acquire both Ryan LaMarre and Ian Miller late last season.
Right now, Lane Adams is the only man on the 60-man roster that would fit this bill, and he isn’t on the 40-man. The Twins aren’t about to lose, say, a Lamonte Wade Jr, or anyone else for that matter, to allow Adams onto the active roster.
The White Sox just added Jarrod Dyson, who not only tormented the Twins for years with Kansas City but was nearly singlehandedly responsible for the Pirates’ walk-off win over Minnesota a few weeks ago in Pittsburgh. He adds a speed element to their roster that didn’t exist previously.
Could the Twins acquire a veteran like Boston’s Kevin Pillar, who could fill in at all outfield spots (although he’s become a bit overrated in centerfield) and add some speed and modest pop off the bench? Pillar isn’t exactly Dyson in the speed department, but he’s somewhere in the Max Kepler/Jake Cave range in terms of sprint speed — which is tops on the Twins after the injured Byron Buxton.
1. Bullpen Help
While the Twins do have one of the league’s best bullpens when everyone is healthy and not being overworked, there is always room for improvement.
To the chagrin of acronym admirers everywhere, the LOOGY (Left-handed One Out GuY) has been eliminated from baseball. But it’s still advantageous to have a left-hander available to come in and finish out a half-inning when needed, and the Twins’ only lefties in the ‘pen for much of this year have been closer Taylor Rogers and long-reliever Lewis Thorpe, although Caleb Thielbar has been solid of late over 7 2⁄3 innings. (Danny Coulombe was designated for assignment on Friday.)
Tyler Clippard and Tyler Duffey have been awesome, Trevor May has been okay and Sergio Romo was good until his blowup in Cleveland this week. Matt Wisler and Jorge Alcala have been pleasant surprises.
But it wouldn’t hurt anyone to add a Mychal Givens from Baltimore or Keone Kela from Pittsburgh. Givens has one year of team control remaining and has been much better so far this year in a setup role than he was last year as a part-time closer. Kela, on the other hand, is a free agent after this year and has had some injury issues this year, only pitching in three games.
Neither player is a bullpen-changing acquisition, and both would probably vacillate between a high-leverage middle-inning role like May and a true setup role like Romo.
At this point, it appears highly unlikely that the Twins will make a major splash prior to the trade deadline. But it would also surprise me if they didn’t make any moves at all. However minor it might be, the odds of the Twins making a deal on the periphery are far from zero.