The Starting Pitcher Trade Market at a Glance
Image courtesy of © Tim Heitman-USA TODAY SportsWith the altered 2020 MLB schedule, the trade deadline for this year has been moved back a month from July 31st to August 31st. This will give teams about a month to evaluate where they stand for this season, to decide if they want to be buyers or sellers. Another change to the 2020 season that will have a major impact on the trade market is the expanded postseason. With 16 of the 30 teams making the postseason this year, it will likely leave only a few teams as true sellers at the deadline, and even fewer of those teams that actually have players of a good enough quality to trade for.
With that all being said, teams in clear title contention will still be aggressive at the deadline to improve their rosters. For the Twins, they will likely be looking heavily at the starting pitching market, either to add a frontline arm to the rotation, or to sure up any depth concerns that might still be prevalent come the deadline. So, let’s take a look at some of the starting pitchers that could be targets for the Twins.
Luis Castillo & Trevor Bauer – Cincinnati Reds
Coming into the season, the Reds were a dark horse pick to win the National League Central by many people, myself included. However, they have gotten off to a bit of a slow start. If they continue to struggle over the next few weeks, they might decide to try and move a piece to bolster their club for the future.
Luis Castillo is a name that has been mentioned a number of times in trade talks, but with still three years of control after 2020, the Reds will be reluctant to move him. The pitcher that they could be more interested in making a deal for is Trevor Bauer. Bauer is in the final year of his contract, and despite how many people feel about him, Bauer is an excellent pitcher that could instantly provide a boost to the Twins rotation, even if it was fully healthy.
Dylan Bundy & Andrew Heaney – Los Angeles Angels
The Angels are another team that has failed to get off to a good start, coming into Sunday with a record of just 5 and 10. With Shohei Ohtani shelved from pitching for the rest of the season, it will be incredibly difficult for them to claw their way back into contention in the American League.
Both Dylan Bundy and Andrew Heaney would make excellent trade candidates for the Angels. They both have just one more arbitration eligible season in 2021, before hitting free agency, and they both are quality enough starting pitchers to add depth to a postseason rotation. Both pitchers have gotten off to great starts this season, something the analytical world is not surprised by, as both pitchers have had much better underlying metrics than their baseline stats have said over the past couple of seasons. If the Twins injury woes continue, either one of these two could slot in as a number 3 or 4 pitchers in the Postseason rotation.
Lance Lynn & Mike Minor – Texas Rangers
While many Twins fans would reject the idea or reacquiring Lance Lynn after his disappointing 2018 campaign with the Twins, he has actually been on the best pitchers in Major League Baseball since he left. With one year, and $10 million left on his contract after this season, he would be an appealing addition to the Twins. With the Rangers not expecting to be all that competitive in 2021, they could look to move Lynn now and get max value for him.
Among all the pitchers mentioned so far, the most likely candidate to get moved before the deadline is Mike Minor. With the Rangers not competitive, and Minor being on the last year of his deal, there is almost no reason to hang onto him. Minor has gotten off to a dreadful start (6.89 ERA in 3 starts), which could give people pause. However, Minor has a FIP of 3.67 and an xERA (per Statcast) of 3.91 that suggest Minor has had a lot of bad luck early in the season that has led to an inflated ERA. Additionally, Minor has a few year track record of success, so I wouldn’t get too hung up on three bad starts.
Kevin Gausman – San Francisco Giants
In the offseason, Kevin Gausman signed a one-year prove it deal with the San Francisco Giants for nine million dollars. His first three starts in San Fran have been very intriguing. On one hand, he has a 5.27 ERA. On the other hand, he has a FIP of just 1.52, which is aided heavily by his incredible 15 to 1 strikeout to walk ratio. Granted it is hard to take much out of just 9 and 2/3 innings of work, especially given his track record. However, Gausman’s fastball velocity has ticked back up to an average of 94.6 MPH, the highest it has been since 2017.
As the next few weeks unfold, we will start to gain an even clearer picture of what the starting pitcher trade market will look like. Teams will roughly double their number of games played between now and then, to have a better idea if they want to go for it or not this season. We will also likely get a few more starts worth of data on these starting pitchers to have a clearer picture of who these guys are in 2020. Hopefully, the Twins are able to regain their health, and won’t need to rely on a trade, but even if that does happen, don’t be too surprised if they make a move to sure up their starting rotation even more before the deadline.
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