When the Twins Go Buying ... Who Are They Selling?
Image courtesy of © Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY SportsSome other things to consider, in all the moves the Twins made last year - Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, Zach Duke, Lance Lynn, Brian Dozier and Fernando Rodney - they only took back three players (of 13) that were already on the 40-man. None of those three players remain on the 40-man and only one, Chase DeJong, who has been removed from the 40-man twice since being acquired, is still in the organization.
Acting in such a way gives the sellers more opportunities to both evaluate their current roster and be active on the waiver wire. It would be fair to believe sellers in the current market would look at doing the same type of thing.
As I mentioned in a Finer Points article, many of the Twins acquisitions came with one more year before needing to be added to the 40-man roster. The Twins could face a roster crunch in getting these players onto their 40-man in November. Could that lead to some of those players who were acquired last year being flipped?
Or could it lead to more aggressively pursuing players as rentals, knowing that they can replace them with some of their better prospects?
Those are questions we don’t have answers to, but when the Twins call or take a call, what names are they going to be hearing on the other end?
SS Wander Javier
Born: 12/29/1998 (20 years old)
Current level: Extended Spring Training
Why would he be targeted? Javier was a top prospect in the 2015 international class and, despite spending a significant amount of time injured, has enhanced his prospect status with his performance in the Appy League in 2017. Javier is expected to join the Kernels as soon as his body is ready.
Why should the Twins consider moving him? With Jorge Polanco’s entrenched at shortstop and possessing a long-term deal, the Twins are good at one of the middle infield spots (whether you believe he can stick at shortstop or needs to move to second). Royce Lewis is higher up the organizational ladder and Luis Arraez is showing his bat plays at the major league level. Moving Javier would be dealing from depth. Javier is a player that would need to be added to the 40-man in November.
Other thoughts: How much value does Nick Gordon have? He’s currently taking up a 40-man spot and hasn’t spent a lot of time on the field in 2019. Will Luis Arraez’s value ever be higher? Moving any of these three middle infielders doesn’t deliver a huge blow to the team’s depth.
C Ben Rortvedt
Born: 9/25/1997 (21 years old)
Current level: Pensacola (AA)
Why would he be targeted? Rortvedt is the highest-ceiling catching prospect in the system and he’s only two promotions from the big leagues. An outstanding defensive catcher, Rortvedt, at a minimum, is a future bench piece on a major league team. He’s progressing offensively, with a keen eye at the plate and a chance to have an average or better hit tool. Additionally, Rortvedt would not need to be added to the 40-man roster until November of 2020, when he should definitely be ready to compete for a big-league job.
Why should the Twins consider moving him? Though Jason Castro is a free agent at year’s end, we have realized that Mitch Garver is the real deal. Garver also entered the year with just over a year of service time, so he can be the primary catcher for the next five years. There should be little worry about the position in the short-term, despite the overall lack of depth in the system currently.
OF Trevor Larnach
Born: 2/26/1997 (22 years old)
Current level: Fort Myers (high-A)
Why would he be targeted? Any team can look at the Twins outfield and know it’s going to be tough to break into the lineup there. Top outfield prospect, Alex Kirilloff, is getting work at first base. So where does that leave this outfield prospect? As an asset who doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man until after the 2021 season.
Why should the Twins consider moving him? Mainly for the same reasons other teams would ask about him. He’s a luxury.
Other thoughts: Luke Raley and Brent Rooker fit in the same category, for the most part. Both are currently on the injured list and Rooker has not had a good start to the his 2019 campaign. Raley would require a more immediate decision (2019 eligible) than Rooker (2020), but neither player has a clear path to the majors. Could Jake Cave be a trade chip? I think he proved last year that he is certainly capable of being an everyday centerfielder.
P Jordan Balazovic
Born: 9/17/1988 (20 years old)
Current level: Fort Myers (high-A)
Why would he be targeted? The prospect that would hurt the most to deal is going to be the one most coveted. That’s how this works. Balazovic went from “barely on the radar” to “whoa!” over the course of seven A-ball starts this season. It would be hard to leave him out of the organization's Top 6 or 7 prospects right now and he’s probably becoming a Top 70 prospect league-wide. That is, if he continues on this torrid streak.
Why should the Twins consider moving him? The Twins know him better than anyone and if they feel this isn’t close to sustainable, they could sell high. In between Balazovic and a big-league rotation spot, there are a number of other starters, albeit with less ceiling.
Other thoughts: Balazovic (2020 eligible) isn’t the only high ceiling pitching prospect in the stable. Pensacola pitcher Jorge Alcala (2019), Fort Myers’ pitcher Jhoan Duran (2019) and Kernels pitcher Blayne Enlow (2021) could all tickle someone’s fancy.
Obviously, there are others that could be included as well.
But the Twins have another pretty enormous trade chip too.
Competitive Balance Round A Draft Pick #39
Pool allotment: $1,906,800
Part of the reason that I wanted to push this out well before the trade deadline is because the Twins only have a handful of days to use this asset in a trade. Competitive Balance picks are the only ones that can be traded and obviously have to be moved before the draft.
Five of the 12 awarded picks for the 2019 draft have already been moved.
The Yankees traded Sonny Gray and a prospect for pick #38 and a prospect.
The #40 pick moved from the A’s to the Rays in the deal that netted the A’s Jurickson Profar.
The Rangers traded bullpen piece Alex Claudio to the Brewers for pick #41.
The Diamondbacks acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. The Marines also acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Indians in the their Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana/Tampa Bay trade.
As you can see, there is plenty of value in a Comp Round A pick. But it’s more than just the pick itself, it’s the money that’s attached to it. Giving yourself an extra nearly $2 million can benefit teams in a number of ways. Want another really good prospect? You got it. Want to get more creative and push a guy down the board ala Sean Manaea or Dax Cameron? You got that too.
(Yeah, I know, the Diamondbacks are kings of this draft and draft four times before pick #39… but maybe they want in on this action?)
The Twins might not be able to get Will Smith straight up for this pick, but it would go a long way. The Reds definitely wouldn’t give up Rasiel Iglesias for just the pick, but again… it would be a nice piece. The Nationals and Sean Doolittle, now that’s reasonable. Or maybe they aim higher.
What do you think?
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