Deadline Rewind: A Progress Report on the Twins 2018 Trade Deadline Additions
Image courtesy of Seth Stohs, Twins Daily (photo of Jhoan Duran)Chronologically, the first trade was the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was a beloved by Twins fans but trading him made loads of sense because he was an impending free agent and seemed unlikely to resign with the Twins. In return for Escobar the Twins received RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade it seemed like a pretty good return as Duran and Maciel were intriguing prospects with some upside. After one year the trade is looking even better.
Jhoan Duran has been really good since joining the Twins. After the trade, Duran pitched for Cedar Rapids for the remainder of the 2018 season and was dominant. In 36 innings Duran struck out 44 batters while walking only 10. He finished with a 2.00 ERA and .81 WHIP and opponents hit just .154 off him. It has been more of the same this year, as Durant started in High-A Fort Myers and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. In the past week Duran was called up to AA Pensacola and is inching closer and closer to the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with his heater and certainly appears to be the top dog of the 2018 trade acquisitions. Duran looks like he may make it as a starter but would certainly be enticing at the back end of a bullpen as well. Duran is 21-years-old.
Gabriel Maciel has also done well early in his time with the organization. The Brazilian is a center fielder who has elite speed but has yet to develop much power and is listed as 5’10” and 170 pounds. He held his own last year at Cedar Rapids and began 2019 there as well. After 45 games and an impressive .309/.395/.377 triple slash, Maciel was promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He has done well since joining the Miracle, hitting .288/.366/.360, and is an ideal leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to get on base. Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far this year and is still just 20 years old.
Ernie De La Trinidad was more of a throw in and has struggled to a .228/.314/.300 triple slash between Fort Meyers and Pensacola in 2019. He actually started the year in AA Pensacola but was sent back down to Single-A where he played in 2018. He is rather small in stature, has limited upside, and is already 23-years-old.
Overall this trade is looking really good as Duran has become one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects and Maciel has done quite well while flying a bit under the radar. Either one of these two could become important trade chips and have a good chance of reaching the majors.
The Twins quickly made another big trade when they traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly was having a solid 2018 for Minnesota pitching to a 3.40 ERA (2.95 FIP) and was striking out 13/9 IP. He still had one year of team control left. Pressly has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball since joining the Astros. Pressly has pitched to a 1.60 ERA (2.31 FIP) with a WHIP of .768 for Houston. He has been absolutely filthy and would obviously be really, really nice to have in the current Twins pen.
Like Duran, Jorge Alcala is another guy who tops out at over 100 mph. He too joined the Twins organization as a starter but many questioned whether he would remain so. Alcala pitched exclusively as a starter since joining the Twins but very recently shifted to the pen. Alcala has pitched in AA in both seasons with Minnesota and the results have not been pretty. In 2019 he has an ERA of 6.22 with a WHIP of 1.51 but he still gets strikeouts (98 in 94 IP). Walks have always been an issue with Alcala but hopefully Alcala will be able to tone things down in the pen and reach his full potential. Alcala just turned 24.
Gilberto Celestino was a big international signing for Houston in 2015. Like Maciel, Celestino is a centerfielder but has a better chance to hit for power than Maciel. After joining the Twins, Celestino spent 2018 playing short season ball in Elizabethton and has played for Cedar Rapids in 2019. Celestino’s numbers on the year are not overly impressive (.249/.324/.366) but he has shown improvement month by month and has really heated up of late (.322/.390/.500 in July). Like Maciel, Celestino will only be 20 for the remainder of the season and contains plenty of upside.
Although Alcala and Celestino have plenty of upside, this is probably a trade the Twins would like to take back. Pressly would make quite a 1-2 combo with Taylor Rogers and had the front office known the Twins would be contenders in 2019 this trade likely would not have been made.
Next, the Twins traded Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Chase De Jong and 1B/3B Ryan Costello. As a lefty specialist, Duke was unlikely to bring back much and so far the results of this return have been fairly underwhelming.
Chase De Jong split time between the minors and the major league club and was not particularly effective in either. For the Twins he did okay it 2018 as he posted a 3.57 ERA in four starts but the outings were short and his FIP was 4.92. 2019 has been a complete disaster for De Jong. He pitched one inning for the big league club and gave up four runs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in Rochester, as he was 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings. He was released by the Red Wings on July 12.
Ryan Costello is another player without a ton of upside but he did show some “pop” by hitting 20 home runs in 2018 (16 of them came with in low-A ball with Seattle). 2019 has been a struggle for Costello. Between High-A and AA he has hit just .212/.337/.361 for an OPS of .698 with eight long balls. Costello spends the majority of his time at first base so he will need to hit to further his career. He is 23-years-old.
On the same day that Duke was traded, Minnesota traded Lance Lynn to the New York Yankees for 1B Tyler Austin and RHP Luis Rijo. Minnesota’s haul in this trade seemed pretty impressive as Lynn had struggled with the Twins and was a rental player.
Austin was traded again from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants early this season. His time with the Twins was brief, but he made sense as a depth piece at first base with Joe Mauer’s looming retirement. With the Twins picking up C.J. Cron off of waivers and signing Nelson Cruz to DH, there was no room for Austin in 2019. Austin hit .236/.294/.488 with 9 home runs in 35 games for the Twins last season and since joining San Francisco he has hit just .181/.278/.402 in 68 games.
The second piece of this trade is looking really good so far for Minnesota. Luis Rijo finished 2018 pitching for Elizabethton in rookie ball and his numbers were impressive as he was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts. He has built upon that success in Low-A Cedar Rapids this year with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 77.2 innings. Rijo’s fastball now sits in the mid-90s and he also throws a curve and changeup. With his success this year and added velocity, Rijo is sure to continue moving up the prospect lists. Rijo is 20-years-old.
On the last day of the trade deadline the Twins sent fan favorite Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer. Dozier was having a down year for the Twins and was also in the last year of his contract so his trade value had greatly diminished. Forsythe, who like Dozier was in the last year of his contract, was thrown in to offset Dozier’s salary and is no longer a Twin.
Luke Raley is a strong and athletic outfielder who has raked since joining the organization. He hit .276/.371/.449 in AA for the remained of his 2018 season and joined AAA Rochester for the start of 2019. This year Raley was turning heads by hitting .302/.362/.516 but suffered a dislocated tendon in his left ankle that required surgery and has been out since mid-May. The Twins will need to decide whether or not to add Raley to the 40-man roster this off season as he will be eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Raley is 24-years-old.
The other prospect acquired in the Dozier trade is one that Twins fans have become quite familiar with this year. Devin Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen in 2018 while in the Dodger’s minor league system and finished last season in the bullpen after joining the Twins organization as well. However, Smeltzer wanted one more chance to remain a starter and the Twins granted him his wish. In 2019, between AA and AAA Smeltzer has pitched to a 2.21 ERA and .993 WHIP with 92 Ks in 89.2 innings. Smetzer has been up with the Twins three times this season, making two starts and a total of four appearances. So far Smeltzer has done well with the big league club, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP in 21.2 innings of work. Smeltzer is likely to see more time with the Twins this season either as a spot starter or out of the pen. Smeltzer is 23-years-old.
The MLB has done away with the August waiver wire trade deadline but the Twins did make one August trade last season. The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney had a team option for 2019, but exercising the option was far from certain due to Rodney’s age and performance (he has not been good in 2019).
Dakota Chalmers is another high upside player who has struggled with control throughout his career. The former third-round pick ($1.2 million signing bonus) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and joined High-A Fort Meyers after a short rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Chalmers struck out 19 batters in 13.1 innings in the GCL but also walked eight. Chalmers is more of a lottery ticket at this point, but if he is able to put it all together he could be another player with the potential to shoot up the prospect lists.
Overall, the 2018 trade return looks pretty solid. Duran, Maciel, Rijo, Raley, and Smeltzer have all had great starts in their first full year in the organization and Celestino, Alcala, and Chalmers still offer plenty of upside. The Twins were able to add great depth to an already good farm system and the only significant loss was not having Ryan Pressly in the 2019 bullpen. The Twins would love to have Pressly now but they were able to gain plenty of prospect capital and depth. This makes it easier to deal prospects without decimating the farm as well as giving the Twins plenty of hope for the future.
Looking back a year later, how do you think the FO did for the 2018 trade deadline? Did all the additions make the loss of Pressly worthwhile? Which of the additions has most impressed you since joining the Twins organization?
- Yoke, big dog, ChrisKnutson and 5 others like this