Twins With Options On The Trade Front
Image courtesy of © Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY SportsFirst and foremost, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine sent a message that they intend to be active in the coming weeks and months. In leaving prospects like Jake Reed, Kohl Stewart and Lewin Diaz unprotected from the Rule 5 draft, they also kept four open spots on the 40-man roster. It stands to reason that those spots could be used on more immediate solutions, and potentially, players with higher ceilings. Suggesting that the Twins have four free agents in mind to take the openings is a bad bet, but the flexibility tells us the ball is rolling.
Guys like Cole and Odorizzi aren’t going to come cheap. They’ve had real success at the big league level and remain under team control going forward. There’s no doubt other names are being talked about, and if they are cut from the same cloth, the Twins won’t be able to simply pry away, at low cost, a player or two. Despite the farm system not being what it was a year or two ago, Minnesota actually has a nice stockpile of options to move, so let’s take a look at some of them.
This group may be among the most impressive collections in all of baseball. Both Nick Gordon and Royce Lewis are top 100 prospects, while Wander Javier is going to quickly shoot up prospect lists in the next few months. Add in names like Jermaine Palacios and Luis Arraez (more of a 2B), and you’ve got a quality collection of talent. If I’m an opposing club, this is a group that provides plenty of intrigue. If I’m the Twins, Lewis is probably the only player that’s off limits.
Although the Twins need pitching at the big league level, you can bet any deal for a true MLB starter is going to cost a prospect in return. Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero are the cream of the Minnesota crop, while Felix Jorge and Brusdar Graterol may be the next men up. The Twins added to the system in the form of names like Enlow, Littell, Leach and Watson over the past year, but it remains an area that any club is looking to build out. Gonsalves appears MLB ready now, and Romero should command a hefty ransom, but an acquisition with a proven track record may be enticing enough to move any of these names.
If we’re excluding the depth the Twins have in the middle of the infield on the farm, the offensive side of things takes a bit of a dip. Brent Rooker looks like a stud, and should soon be penciled in to big league lineups in Minnesota. Behind him however, things get a bit more uncertain. Diaz could skate through the Rule 5 draft having not played above Single-A, or the club could look to deal him first. Alex Kirilloff is a presence at the plate, but is coming off a lost season due to injury. Travis Blankenhorn looks the part of a sleeper prospect, and he could be joined by LaMonte Wade or 2017 pick Andrew Bechtold. Kirilloff seems like the most expendable asset here given the likelihood he moves the needle for an opposing club, but in this group there likely is not a cornerstone in any potential deal.
Should the Twins be targeting major league ready talent, they may find themselves needing to give up some proven commodities as well. On such a young team, that’s a scary proposition, as the vast majority see their prime’s lying ahead of them. Eddie Rosario was a trade candidate prior to his breakout 2017, and Max Kepler may still be despite seeing his value sag. Minnesota could flip Jorge Polanco if there’s more belief in the farm options as well. As a whole however, plucking from this group seems like it could definitely come back to bite the hometown team.
No matter what moves the Twins make, there’s no such thing as getting talent without giving it up. Falvey and Levine are going to have to make hard decisions in acquiring players from another organization. While it’s just money on the free agent market, there’s more to be had through a potential trade. Trusting in evaluations of both their internal assets as well as what they’ll be receiving is obviously integral to the process.
Personally, I’d prefer to see the Twins dangle some combination built around Gordon or Kirilloff, maybe even getting interesting with international bonus money used. While doling out big paydays has become the norm, finding competitive advantages will always need to be the Twins plan of attack. The hot stove is warming up, and I’d be surprised if we don’t hear some of these scenarios begin to be speculated upon.
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