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Cleveland trades Clevinger: What does it mean for the Twins?

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Is it a Twins’ addition by (the competitor’s) subtraction?

Minnesota Twins v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Trade Deadline Morning has started off with a bang, with Cleveland starter Mike Clevinger headed to the Padres in a massive deal. Dealing their second best starter (and a #1 for most teams) means plenty for one of the Twins’ chief competitors, but what does it mean for the Twins?

What Cleveland Lost

Cleveland lost Mike Clevinger, a defensive outfielder (Greg Allen) who, quite frankly, stunk at the plate, and a player to be named later (likely a lower-level prospect).

Clevinger is the big news here, as he has electric stuff, a career 3.20 ERA in over 500 innings, and is cheap and won’t be a free agent until 2023. He’s 29 years old and was the biggest starting pitcher on the market. Clevinger pitched to the tune of 2.39 and 2.29 ERA’s against the Twins in 2019 and 2018, respectively, and is 1-1 against the squad this year. He definitely will not be missed by the Twins.

What Cleveland Gained

Cleveland gained quantity here, but a puzzling lack of quality seems to be the overriding analysis of it.

The Padres overhauled their catching group yesterday, trading for Mariners backstop Austin Nola and Angels catcher Jason Castro. To complete the face-lift, they sent catcher Austin Hedges to Cleveland. While Hedges is pretty abysmal at the plate (career OPS+ of 65), he is known as a good pitch-framer, and so could amplify Cleveland’s already-great pitching staff.

The rest of the guys involved in the trade are basically mid-level prospects. Cal Quantrill, a reliever, debuted last year and has pitched well this year, but never put up great numbers in the minors. Cleveland was rumored to be asking for a slugging outfielder, but the only one they got in return was Josh Naylor, who was been slightly below-average at the plate since his debut last year, was never great in the minors, and is poor defensively. Joey Cantillo is an A-ball minor league starter with middling potential, although Cleveland will probably find a way to turn him into an ace (sigh). Gabriel Arias could be seen as the heir to the shortstop position (#94 overall prospect on BaseballProspectus.com) when Cleveland finally trades Francisco Lindor, but he also hasn’t made it to Double-A yet and isn’t on either of the other major Top-100 lists. Owen Miller was the Padres’ #9 prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, and profiles as a bat-first 2nd baseman at the Major League level. He has peaked at Double-A thus far.

What it all means for the Twins

Today, the Cleveland squad is worse than they were yesterday. Clevinger was their second-best starter, and they didn’t get any really meaningful major league-ready pieces in return. The Twins should benefit directly from this.

Furthermore, the White Sox didn’t get Clevinger. Chicago was rumored to be in the running for the starter, and it would’ve been quite a poor scenario if they had been able to bag him, as starting pitching is their main weakness.

The Twins should be better off because of this trade, at least for the next 2-3 years. Unless a couple of the prospects Cleveland got in return really improve and reach their full potential, it could be a win for the Twins for years coming as well.