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The 5 Biggest Trades Minnesota Could Make This Offseason

While Major League Baseball free agency has done its best to resemble a pace that would make even a glacier blush, the reality is that the regular season is just around the corner. The Minnesota Twins still have holes to fill, and at least one trade still seems likely.
Image courtesy of © Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have shown a patience during their tenure with the Twins, and whether picking a right spot for a swap, or jumping in late on a free agent, they’ve been extremely calculated. The market as a whole has really worked to feel players out, and Minnesota’s front office should be expected to continue a similar process. This duo has had success on the trade market though and finding a dance partner matches up in plenty of key areas heading into the 2021 season.

Knowing there’s both offense and pitching needs to address, here’s the top five players the Twins could trade for in order of impact.

1. Colorado Rockies Trevor Story

Francisco Lindor was going to appear in this space as well, but he's reportedly headed to the New York Mets. A trade within the division of that magnitude always seemed unlikely anyways. Story can come over from the National League however, and would give the Twins one of the best hitting infielders in baseball. He's no slouch with the glove, but it's the power bat that puts up gaudy numbers as well. There's always a slight concern leaving the elevation of Coors Field, but D.J. LeMahieu has certainly had no issues.

2. Cincinnati Reds Luis Castillo or Sonny Gray

Both from the same team, but with substantially different ramifications. Luis Castillo looks the part of a Cy Young pitcher waiting to happen. He’s just 28 and should be entering his prime, while having already evolved into a strikeout machine with some of the best peripherals in baseball. He’s under team control through the 2023 season, and you can expect to break the prospect bank in an attempt to acquire him.

It seemed likely that a resurgence was to be expected for Gray once he got out of the Cracker Jack box that is Yankee Stadium. He’s ratcheted up the strikeout tallies each of the past two years but has always danced around some free passes. 31 and with a team option in 2023, Gray has more of a monetary commitment but is a pitcher that would see at least an equal payday on the open market. With the Reds clearly motivated to move assets, either option would represent a substantial rotation upgrade for the Twins.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates Joe Musgrove

Down in the middle of the list only because of what he’s done thus far, Musgrove looks like a pitcher waiting to be rescued from the Pirates keep. He just recently turned 28 and isn’t a free agent until 2023. The strikeouts took a huge leap in 2020 and his FIP has always outperformed what the defense behind him has allowed. Matched with a mastermind pitching coach in the form of Wes Johnson, I’d hardly be shocked if Musgrove didn’t end up being one of the best arms in baseball. He’s not going to turn into Gerrit Cole, but he may be the next best thing.

4. Chicago Cubs Javier Baez or Kris Bryant

If the Twins are intent on dealing for infield help, there’s no reason not to call the Chicago Cubs. Javier Baez had a dreadful 2020, but he was coming off two seasons of a combined .865 OPS prior to that. He’s a premier shortstop with an incredibly high ceiling at the plate. He’s not cheap in that he’ll make somewhere around $11 million in 2021, and he’s set to become a free agent after the year. Still, as a brother-in-law to Jose Berrios, pairing those two together in Minnesota could be a nice bit of roster construction.

The allure for Bryant is more based around assumption than present reality. You absolutely have to believe he’s not cooked and that the shoulder will hold up. If that’s true, there’s an offensive stud here and he acts as insurance for both Josh Donaldson at third base, and Alex Kirilloff in left field. Despite seeming to have drawn ire for quite some time, 2020 was his first down year, and his health has been the chief concern. The former Rookie of the Year is a free agent following the season, but the Cubs selloff could make him more available than expected.

5. Colorado Rockies Jon Gray

There was some belief that the Rockies may simply non-tender Gray and allow him to be a free agent. That didn’t happen and the former first round pick is back after posting a 6.69 ERA last season. The 4.18 FIP dating back to 2018 isn’t going to open many eyes, but that number was 3.46 through his first 58 MLB starts. Gray has been a consistent strikeout pitcher with a heavy fastball and a change of scenery could be what is necessary to unlock his full potential. German Marquez has figured it out in Colorado while Gray has not, plucking him a year before he heads into free agency could be a nice move with him banking on building value.

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15 Comments

Any of the above except Bryant. Don't think he will be worth his big contract. Nice list 

    • whosafraidofluigirussolo and Doctor Gast like this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 08 2021 07:16 AM

I like your list, Ted. I`d just rate Baez #1 & like Otwins remove Bryant. I'd rate Castillo& Gray lower because of the added counter weight of Moustakas or Castellano. Another suggestion is a K Marte & Escobar package which I'd rate very high. ARI hasn't announced any desire to get in the trade market but w/ a poor 2020, I'd think they'd consider rebuilding. I'd put Marte at SS & CF option. Escobar as INF utility mainly to relieve Donaldson early in the season. Both are great on defense & offense. Marte has a 3 yr. contract & Escobar 1 & are reasonable

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terrydactyls1947
Jan 08 2021 10:07 AM
Dr. Gast - Would you please explain what you mean by: "I'd rate Castillo& Gray lower because of the counter weight of Moustakas or Castellano." I just don't comprehend what you mean. Thanks.
    • Doctor Gast likes this

Glad you brought up the importance of trading in improving the team's 2021 chances, but I can't agree with your priorities.Why trade away valuable prospects for Trevor Story when we have a pretty good SS in Polanco, but more importantly, can sign one of 3 quality FA SS's in Simmons, Semien or Didi, if moving Polanco is deemed desirable by Twins' brass?One year of Story makes little sense and if he signed a longer term contract, with Donaldson's contract, would severely hamper Twins' ability to sign some of their own players soon to be eligible for FA, especially Berrios and Buxton.Same argument for not going after either of the Cub players.

 

What does make sense would be a deal with the Reds, obtaining Gray and Castellanos for prospects and perhaps Polanco(the Reds are in the market for a SS).This would accomplish two main things: 1.) strengthen the top of the rotation and 2.) add a younger and more versatile player to take Cruz's place.Castillo would be preferable, but that would entail giving up one of our top 3 prospects, one of our top two pitching prospects, along with a regular like Polanco or Jeffers.Gray would be a very good replacement for the oft-injured Odo with the potential to slot in as a # 1 or 2 starter if Maeda/Berrios were injured or declined in effectiveness.

 

This is the trade I would like to see.The Reds are interested in shedding payroll and Castellanos would be a welcome addition to our all or nothing lineup and provide versatility at a number of positions.Musgrove would be a good addition if the Red's trade were not made, but here's hoping the FO is working 24/7 on a trade with the Reds!

I just want to point out the contradiction you have.You address Story playing at Coors and that may be a problem, but then address that D.J. LeMahieu has done fine, which is true.However, then when talking about Sonny Gray, in just next section, you say, " It seemed likely that a resurgence was to be expected for Gray once he got out of the Cracker Jack box that is Yankee Stadium."Essentially saying it is offensive park, like it is.Well where has LeMahieu played after Coors?  

 

You basically say LeMahieu did not have drop off after leaving Coors so we should not worry too much about Story, who I do worry very much about him not playing half his games there, because LeMahieu did fine.Only to then talk about how once pitchers leave Yankee Stadium they are expected to do better to, meaning hitters crush there.You cannot have it both ways, just saying. 

    • specialiststeve likes this
I don't know...the more I think on it the more I really like Musgrove as my #1 pitching trade candidate. Solid stuff, relatively young, controllable, he could really thrive with the Twins without causing a major disruption to the milb system.
    • Twins33 likes this
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Physics Guy
Jan 08 2021 05:18 PM

 

Any of the above except Bryant. Don't think he will be worth his big contract. Nice list 

Because of his down year last year, I'd think he'd be relatively cheap to acquire, especially with the Cubs cutting salary. He might just be a rental player, but that's OK if the cost isn't high. If he has a good year, maybe he's willing to sign for a reasonable contract. I doubt he's going to get anywhere near what he would have 2-3 years ago if he had been a FA. Some of the luster has worn off.

I know this is absurd, but why not be absurd....

 

Castillo AND Gray

    • DannySD likes this

I don't know...the more I think on it the more I really like Musgrove as my #1 pitching trade candidate. Solid stuff, relatively young, controllable, he could really thrive with the Twins without causing a major disruption to the milb system.


Was about to post the same thing. Musgrove is a really good option and likely cheap.

With the minor leagues in such a flux I’d be willing to open the prospect book for Castillo too. I’d give them Larnach, Rooker, Javier and Enlow for Castillo. That’s quite a bit... especially for me who tends to like to keep prospects. I would give much much less for Musgrove
    • DocBauer likes this
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Doctor Gast
Jan 09 2021 10:49 AM

Dr. Gast - Would you please explain what you mean by: "I'd rate Castillo& Gray lower because of the counter weight of Moustakas or Castellano." I just don't comprehend what you mean. Thanks.

Sure Terry, what I understand is that the Reds are shedding salary. What I mean by rating Castillo or Gray lower is the trades. These trades are offered to attract traders to include Moustakas or Castellanos, high salary deficit players, (that's what I meant by counter weights) Reds IMO will not trade either Castillo or Gray w/o including Moustakas or Castellanos . Twins don't need either of them or their salary, therefore rating their trade lower. Put it another way, the Reds want to dump over priced Moustakas & Castellanos, to balance it out they add Castillo & Gray as the premiere pieces. A Musgrove trade would be more of my liking
    • DocBauer likes this

Because I think obscene trade speculation is fun. 

Gray, Castillo, and Moustakas
for

Garver, Arraez, Larnach, Duran, Cavaco

 

Not that I want Moustakas, but he's the price of doing business and he can slide in to replace Arraez at 2b. Garver's 2020 obviously sucked but his 2019 was incredible and the the Twins can afford to trade him to a team that can use him more. As for the prospects, who knows. Duran and Balazovich are a horse a piece and really I'd probably be willing to swap out Larnach and put in Lewis if they insisted (but i'd remove Cavaco in that case)

 

This adds about 30M in payroll for 2021, but that's within the window of "payroll is going down, but not to 100M"

As for the product on the field in 2021. Adding Castillo and Gray to Maeda, Berrios, and Pineda gives us the best rotation in the AL and they are both under team control for 3 more years (Gray has a 12M team option in 2023 and Castillo is in arb 1). Losing Arraez sucks, but you have to give some to get some and while we all love him, with his body type, it's possible that he turns into a minus 2b defensively while hitting an empty .320. Losing the prospects hurts, but you've pushed your 2021-2023 chips into the middle and sacrificing some of the future is worth it, IMO.
 

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specialiststeve
Jan 09 2021 01:05 PM

I know that there has been lots of speculation of Baez, Bryant and Story.... All will be FA after this summer... Don't see that we would do any of these unless they agree to a deal ... as well as giving up quality assets for one year of any of these?With our SS of the future at the doorstep... can't see it. Would be smarter to add one of the FA SS to a 2 year deal... Can give Lewis a little more seasoning and not guy our system that is very strong. 

 

As far as the pitching trade possibilities I would be for any of the Castillo, Sonny Gray or Musgrave ... depending on the cost. Again we have studs coming up.. DO NOT overpay. As far as Jon Gray I would be very good with getting him for a minor leaguer that is not high on our minor league list as again he will be a FA at the end of the summer.... 

 

Trades are fine but we really don't "need" to go that route unless the price is right as we have a very good core and very good young talent coming up.... patience... patience.... patience....

    • DocBauer likes this

Was about to post the same thing. Musgrove is a really good option and likely cheap.
With the minor leagues in such a flux I’d be willing to open the prospect book for Castillo too. I’d give them Larnach, Rooker, Javier and Enlow for Castillo. That’s quite a bit... especially for me who tends to like to keep prospects. I would give much much less for Musgrove


So we, and others, tend to really like the Musgrove idea. Again, I'm buying in to low cost prospect wise...though it will take a couple good ones...and some upside Johnson and the Twins can unlock.

Like you, I am not a fan of keeping prospects as much as possible. Yes, absolutely in favor of trading some in the right deal, but the milb system is always the lifeblood of any team, especially for mid-market and below. To use an old but yet fitting axiom, the more bullets you have the more shots you can take. The Twins can't...nor do I believe they ever will...move half a dozen or so prospects within their top 25-30 in a given off-season simply because they can't afford to long term.

With all due respect to his talent, current ability and projection, I don't think I'm in on Castillo though. I think the cost simply may be more than we want to pay. If the prospect cost lowers due to us taking back salary for a veteran, the ramifications could eat up too much salary for another addition. In other words, no Cruz. Which, I know, is also debatable. If Duran and Balazovic weren't so tantalizing, and potentially so close, I might change my mind. And I fully appreciate a prospect is just that, a PROSPECT, but each seems to carry the expectation of at least a solid mid-rotation SP. We haven't had a duo like this for a long time.

Sure Terry, what I understand is that the Reds are shedding salary. What I mean by rating Castillo or Gray lower is the trades. These trades are offered to attract traders to include Moustakas or Castellanos, high salary deficit players, (that's what I meant by counter weights) Reds IMO will not trade either Castillo or Gray w/o including Moustakas or Castellanos . Twins don't need either of them or their salary, therefore rating their trade lower. Put it another way, the Reds want to dump over priced Moustakas & Castellanos, to balance it out they add Castillo & Gray as the premiere pieces. A Musgrove trade would be more of my liking


Great post!

While I am also more interested in Musgrove as the "cheaper" alternative, and my preference, I think it behooves us to take a moment to at least consider taking on Moustakas or Castellanos in a deal for Gray or POSSIBLY Castillo.

The POSITIVE is pretty simple. Moose gives us a nice, veteran, proven bat to play 2nd and 3rd base with the idea of fitting him at 1B as well and he can obviously DH. While we still need a glove man to cover SS and other positions...whether or not Polanco remains the full time SS or moves to utility is up for debate in this context...Moose becomes one of our two 10th/11th man options we need. Castellanos, on the other hand, provides a decent option at both OF and 1B though I think his 3B days may be over, and can obviously DH.

The NEGATIVE is pretty obvious as either contract now eliminates Cruz. Now, that elination is and has been open to debate. Many have objectively and rightly stated that betting on another season may be fools gold and it may be time to cut ties now vs doing so too late. On the other hand, a short 2020 may actually work in Cruz's favor in the Father Time eventuality of decline and we could/should expect at least one more season at or close to his previous level of production. And none of us has to debate the experience and leadership factor he brings.

I think these considerations are worth examining. But IF we go the trade route, my thoughts/hunch/preference is Musgrove and the belief Cruz has one more really good season left in him and possibly one more decent/good season after that should a 2nd yr option MAYBE being involved.
    • Doctor Gast likes this
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tony&rodney
Jan 10 2021 08:40 AM

What will Pittsburgh require for Musgrove? I'm interested for a smaller cost.

from amjgt- "Gray, Castillo, and Moustakas for Garver, Arraez, Larnach, Duran, Cavaco." This is quite aggressive. Do the Reds hang up? Add Thorpe and/or Smeltzer? Cincy may have some interest in moving Moose and a player who gets on base and doesn't strike out very often such as Arraez would be a very attractive addition in their lineup. Conversely, can the Twins lose such a player?

In the nothing new department ... all of these suggestions and speculations do hinge on the ceiling of the budget for this coming season. I can see a mid $140s million roster, but will not be surprised by a ceiling of $ 115-120 million.

The higher budget does allow for the Reds trade and returning Nelson Cruz.

More likely are less dramatic additions. 


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