Just think of the deals the Twins could have done if they traded Buxton when he was #1 prospect in the game. Now look what we have, an injury prone outfielder that spends more time on DL than playing.
Same could be said about Gordon. One of the Twins top prospects and top 25-40 in the game and now where would you place him?
Prospects should be used to acquire proven talent if you are a contending team. A prospect has maybe a 10-15% chance to succeed.
I don’t think we can make this type of blank statement. For starters, “in contention” is a relative term and a team’s willingness to part with prospects (defined as top prospects) depends on their relative position in terms of contention. Obviously, the Red Sox, Yankees, Astros, Athletics, Dodgers, Braves, Nationals, Brewers and Cubs are in a window of contention. Several other teams are relative close but teams like the mariners are opting to tear down. Chicago tore down with a more proven roster than the Twins have now and they had a legit ace with 3 years of control
You also have to consider the revenue of any given team. The lower the revenue the more necessary it is to retain low cost talent. Will, Tampa, a 90 win team, be willing to trade away top prospects? Very doubtful. When have they EVER? They never do purely from a business requirement prospective. Oakland and Tampa have generally traded away established talent, even top talent (Price) because of their need for low cost talent.
Even the highest revenue teams have been very reluctant to trade top prospects. Theo Epstein was unwilling to trade Bellinger / Buehler / Urias etc. and he has been quite consistent in his unwillingness to trade top prospects even though they are clearly in contention. How about the Yankees? Were they willing to deal Sanchez when they had an established veteran? Were they willing to deal Severino? No, The Yankees have not been inclined to give up elite prospects. They have actually benefited more from trading for prospects than trading away prospects. Stanton did not cost elite prospects because of the salary attached to Stanton. Sheffield is an exception and the circumstances are extreme. They have assembled a 100 win team but need SP if they are going to have a chance to win their division and compete deep into the playoffs.
Boston is the one team that has ponied up top prospects but of course they were able to do this because they were stacked with young talent and also able to spend $200M+ in payroll. They are also in a position to sustain a team that is among the most dominant in MLB history. That is a mile away from the Twins situation.
Three points come to mind when looking at the trends around the league.
1) Even very rich teams that are clearly in contention are very reluctant to give up top talent. History is very clear in this matter.
2) 2) Below average revenue teams are even less inclined and teams that are not probable contenders also are much less inclined to trade top prospects.
3) The Twin’s scenario is not remotely in a similar scenario to the teams that have traded top prospects. Those teams are top contenders and we are a relative long shot. Low cost players are more important to a team with the twin’s revenue and we are a long way from comparable in terms of being an established contender.