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Let’s Make a Deal: Starting Pitcher Edition

The Twins likely need starting pitching help if they are going win the AL Central. Which option should the Twins go after?

Los Angeles Dodgers v Cincinnati Reds Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across the MLB. Each week we ask questions of the most plugged-in Minnesota Twins fans and fans across the country.

We are about month away from the trade deadline, and with the Twins still in the heat of a divisional race, it’s time to look at potential trade targets.

While the bullpen has received its fair share of blame for losses, the starting rotation is in need of another playoff caliber starter if they want to compete with the big dogs like the Astros and Yankees. Let’s look at the top starting pitchers likely to be traded this summer.

1. Frankie Montas, Oakland A’s

Long the fascination of Twins territory, Montas has lived up to the billing of an ace so far this season, pitching 89.2 innings with a 3.21 ERA/3.15 FIP, 9.2 K/9, and a career best 1.082 WHIP. His peripherals look similarly impressive.

Frankie Montas Percentile Rankings
Stats courtesy of Baseball Savant

Montas has another year of team control beyond 2022, meaning the cost to acquire him would be high. A good point of comparison is the Jose Berrios trade from last year, which netted the Twins Simeon Woods Richardson and Austin Martin. Any team looking to bolster their starting rotation will have Frankie Montas at the top of their list.

2. Luis Castillo, Cincinnati Reds

Luis Castillo missed the first month of the season recovering from a shoulder injury, but has been impressive ever since. In 51 innings so far, Castillo has a 3.71 ERA/3.46 FIP, 8.6 K/9, and a 1.137 WHIP.

Luis Castillo Percentile Rankings
Stats courtesy of Baseball Savant

Castillo’s peripherals paint a bleaker picture than Montas’s, but given his track record and his team control through 2023, the cost to acquire him would be very similar to Montas.

3. Tyler Mahle, Cincinnati Reds

Those who miss out on Montas and Castillo will be left with Tyler Mahle as a more-than-capable consolation prize. Don’t let his unsightly 4.53 ERA scare you away, his FIP is significantly better at 3.38, and he also has struck out 10 batters per nine innings with a 1.271 WHIP. Mahle’s peripherals paint a better picture of the type of player he’s been this season.

Tyler Mahle Percentile Rankings
Stats courtesy of Baseball Savant

Mahle’s 2.1 fWAR is the best of anyone on this list, and the 13th highest among all pitchers in baseball, ahead of established aces like Gerritt Cole, Justin Verlander, Yu Darvish, and Shane Bieber.

Like Montas and Castillo, Mahle has one more year of team control beyond 2022, making the prospect cost similar. However, Mahle is two years younger than those two, making a long-term extension much more viable for the cost-conscious Twins. Mahle may be viewed as a consolation, but he may wind up being the best starting pitcher available at the deadline.

4. Kyle Gibson, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies this year have been occasionally decent, but mostly bad. With Bryce Harper breaking his thumb and missing significant time, I would expect Philadelphia to fade down the stretch and sell off rentals by the deadline. If that happens, the Twins should consider bringing back Gibson.

Kyle Gibson has been solid, if unspectacular, in 2022. If that sounds familiar, that’s because that’s pretty much the type of pitcher Gibson has been for his whole career. To this point of the season, Gibson has pitched 80.1 innings with a 4.48 ERA/3.90 FIP, 7.6 K/9, and a 1.257 WHIP. His peripherals show the same: a decent starting pitcher.

Kyle Gibson Percentile Rankings
Stats courtesy of Baseball Savant

While re-acquiring Gibson may not excited as much as Montas, Castillo, or Mahle would, Gibson is still a clear upgrade over Dylan Bundy. As a half-season rental at 34-years-old, he would cost next to nothing in prospect capital. And, as the Twins have already seen this season, you can never have too much pitching.

You’ve seen the numbers. You’ve considered the prospect capital. You’ve (unfortunately) thought about Kyle Gibson once again. Now it’s up to you: which starting pitcher should the Twins acquire this summer?

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