The Twins' Great Advantage (That They Aren't Taking Advantage Of)
Image courtesy of © David Berding-USA TODAY SportsPeople say that there are many ways to build a baseball team but personally I think the only way to do so is with MLB players.
Terrible dad jokes aside, the roster configuration of the Twins is now a nice mix of homegrown players (some of whom are now locked up long-term) and free agent signings who supplemented the talent that is lacking in some places. The final major avenue remaining for the Twins is to acquire players by trading away prospects for major league talent.
Currently, 10 players on the Twins’ 40 man roster were acquired via trade: Jorge Alcala, Dakota Chalmers, Trevor May, Jhoan Duran, Zack Littell, Devin Smeltzer, Jake Odorizzi, Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and Luke Raley. Of those players, Jake Odorizzi is the only player who had any major league playing time at the time of the deal. Compare that to, let’s say, the Yankees who have seven players who had major league experience when they were acquired along with a number of players who they re-signed after trading for them and, well, the Twins number sure seems awfully low.
Of course, it’s somewhat unfair to compare the Twins to the Yankees because the Yankees can more afford to take a hit if they lose a high level prospect or two. Yet at the same time, the Twins’ system of development is good enough right now that they could tap into their factory of player development and replace their lost prospect(s) with other homegrown ones that have already been acquired through drafting (not to self advertise but this was something Tom, Cooper, and I talked about on a podcast that can be found here).
Farm systems can be used for more than just replenishing the major league team, and trading away prospects can be a necessity at times in order to avoid losing them to the Rule 5 draft. Specifically for the Twins, look at their current major league outfield along with the outfielders they have in the system and the math just doesn’t work out. There aren’t enough spots to go around. It’s awesome to have a plethora of prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Luke Raley, Brent Rooker, Akil Baddoo, Gilberto Celestino, and Gabriel Maciel among others, but all of them simply can’t be a part of the future of the Twins and getting something for them would be much better than losing them for nothing.
This is another area where the Twins can look toward the Yankees as Brian Cashman is notorious for trading away prospects who are soon to be Rule 5 eligible but who are also blocked by current major league players (this was part of how the Twins received Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns). Dealing away players in this fashion can solve a potential 40-man dilemma and get the team a major league quality player.
The other downside to holding onto prospects is that they’ll occasionally bust and leave you with nothing. Just recently the Twins have seen Kohl Stewart and Stephen Gonsalves go down this path, with Fernando Romero seemingly right behind them. Imagine a world where the Twins capitalized on their potential and dealt them for legitimate major league talent instead of watching them walk away for nothing? The Rays just did this when they dealt Matt Liberatore for José Martínez and others. Sure, Liberatore is a fantastic prospect, but he is far from the sure thing that Martínez is. The Rays know that they’re in a win-now mode so they took the risk and cashed in their chips accordingly.
So, with a high quality major league team that still has room for improvement and a stacked farm system, the Twins should look to continue their risk-taking ways and improve for the now instead of the potential future. A quality farm system is nice and all but so is a good No. 2 or 3 starting pitcher who can help the team win as early as March. Let’s tap into the farm system and who knows? Maybe something good will happen.
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