Deadline Primer: Should Nick Gordon Be On The Table?
Levine explained that the team's surprisingly successful first half won't fundamentally alter the front office's view of where the Twins currently sit in the winning cycle.
"We're probably not going to be inclined to spend lavishly on short-term assets," he said, "but we would be very open to spending aggressively on assets that we could use to propel our team forward this year and for years to come."
This is something that, I think, we can all agree on in concept. The idea of giving up prospects of any significant value for two-month rentals, particularly in a case where your club clearly is not top-tier, doesn't make much sense.
But the Twins could obviously use some controllable assets, especially when it comes to starting pitching. Their needs in that department aren't likely to go away anytime soon.
Sure enough, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports tweeted on Tuesday that Minnesota is "checking in on controllable starters."
That's nice to hear, but of course, such prizes can be difficult to pry.
Quality pitching you can lock in is the game's most valued commodity, so the Twins aren't likely to acquire such a player in exchange for their more expendable pieces, like Eddie Rosario or Eduardo Escobar.
No, sparking the interest of clubs like the Athletics (Sonny Gray), the White Sox (Jose Quintana) and even the Marlins (Dan Straily) will require at least one top prospect, preferably one who is somewhat far along. Since trading young hurlers like Fernando Romero or Stephen Gonsalves would run contrary to what the Twins are trying to accomplish, there is one candidate whose name stands out.
Should the Twins be dangling Nick Gordon in these discussions?
The 21-year-old infielder was widely viewed as the organization's best prospect coming into the season, and has solidified his case with a breakthrough campaign at Class-AA Chattanooga. By adding significant power and staying put at shortstop, he has alleviated the doubts that suppressed his ranking on some preseason lists (including ours). Gordon is now a bona fide rising star, and he was the Twins' sole representative at the All Star Futures Game on Sunday.
Uber-talented young shortstops are hard to come by, and certainly hard to give up, but Minnesota is better positioned than most.
... Wait a minute, did I just type that sentence? An organization that has notoriously seen a revolving door at the shortstop position – 11 different Opening Day starters in the past 12 years, and rarely an above-average regular at any point during that span – can now afford to part with one of the best shortstop prospects in the game?
Well, they kinda could. The Twins have a 24-year-old everyday SS currently in place with Jorge Polanco. Though his play this year has raised plenty of skepticism, he is altogether still pretty inexperienced with room for growth, and they also have Escobar on hand as a viable alternative. Then there is defensive whiz Engelb Vielma knocking on the door at Triple-A. And further down, several teenagers could rise fast, including recent No. 1 overall pick Royce Lewis and big-dollar international signings Wander Javier and Jelfry Marte.
As is the nature of such prospects, there is no assurance any of the above players (other than Viema) will stick at short. But no such assurance exists for Gordon, either. Questions about his aptitude on the left side of the diamond aren't going away just because he got rid of his pesky timeshare partner when Vielma moved up to Rochester.
It's possible his value will never be higher. Gordon is turning the corner before our eyes and, for now, still looks like a future MLB shortstop. There's a great deal of logic in floating him over the coming weeks in exploratory fashion.
It is also possible that Gordon is only beginning to realize his potential and is on his way to major-league stardom – perhaps in the not-too-distant future. To trade away such an asset in for a guy like Straily, who might be no more than a mid-rotation starter for a few years, would be rough in hindsight.
These are the stakes in deadline dealings. If you're in Levine's shoes, how are you viewing Gordon and his movability?
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