I’d like to present a vision for the Twins incorporating prospects, post 2021 free agents, a possible trade target, and a potential look for the Twins with a philosophical change for the Twins post trade deadline and looking to 2022.
A primary component in my vision is adding speed. To that end, assuming Simmons is traded (which he should be IMO), I’d like to see Aaron Whitefield and his .304/.372/.410 slash line with 15/21 SB in CF until Buxton comes back. Secondly, I’d like to see Gordon given the full time 2nd base job as he’s hit at AAA and the majors this year and is 10/10 in SB combined. Ultimately, I think the combination of Buxton, Whitefield and Gordon could add a dynamic new speed element to the team and make the team’s offense more balanced.
Next, I’d like to look at the prospects that I think can help, especially if the Twins sell well at the deadline. Part of the plan assumes that we have outfield prospects that implore the moving of the long slumping Max Kepler either to another team or as the 4th outfielder.
Let’s look at two pitching prospects who I think might be able to help in 2021 and going forward.
As a starter, Josh Winder has a 1.98 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and .208 BA allowed. He could possibly fill that 5th starting position with Pineda #3 and Ober #4. I’d like to see if he’s a better solution than Dobnak. It’s an open competition but it seems Winder deserves to be in it.
As a reliever, Jovani Moran has totally dominated AA with a 1.98 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and .121 BA against in 15 relief appearances encompassing 27.1 IP.
It doesn’t look like anybody is ready at AAA right now. At Cedar Rapids, Matt Canterino could come fast once back from injury with his 35 K in 18 IP.
Then there are the two major pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic who, while neither seems ready, it’s still possible they could contribute in 2021.
Next, I’ll look at the hitters ready to make an impact and how things might be juggled to make it happen.
I’d like to see three hitters currently at Wichita promoted to the Twins. Those would be the aforementioned Aaron Whitefield who when up with the Twins last year was purported to have world class speed.
Second would be Jose Miranda who has had a breakthrough season of stunning proportions slashing .349/.414/.586. I see Miranda as a cornerstone going forward. That could mean trading Josh Donaldson (whose trade value is increasing) for the best starting pitching prospect they could get.
Third is Ernie De La Trinidad who could spend time in RF with Kepler (.200/.293/.394) being moved to 4th OF or traded (as I mentioned earlier), at least until De La Trinidad has had a full chance to prove himself. De La Trinidad has earned his opportunity with his own breakthrough season, slashing .323/.406/.526.
This would yield an OF of Larnach, Whitefield, De La Trinidad with Kepler 4th OF and when Buxton comes back Larnach, Buxton, Whitefield with Kepler and De La Trinidad as 4th and 5th outfielders or DH.
With Simmons and Donaldson traded, the Twins can vault into the future with an infield of 3B Miranda, SS Polanco, 2B Gordon and 1B Kirilloff.
I don’t envision the catching situation changing.
At Designated Hitter, the Twins have a big decision to make. I feel torn because Nelson Cruz has added so much to the Twins franchise and is still an elite hitter, so part of me wants to see him retire as a Twin, possibly at the end of 2022. However, if the Twins can give such prospects as Winder, Moran, Miranda, De La Trinidad and Whitefield a long look and get maybe a pitching prospect in the 8-15 range for Donaldson and the 8-12 range for Cruz, then that might well be the way to go.
So far, the elevation of Larnach, Kirilloff and Gordon has worked out very well. I’d like to think that adding Winder, Moran, Miranda, Whitefield and De La Trinidad would yield the Twins at least two more cornerstones to move forward with.
Next, I have 5 free agents, one or more of whom I’d like to see the Twins be very aggressive in their pursuit, with a goal of landing one. The master plan would involve re-signing Michael Pineda and adding one of the following 5:
Marcus Stroman 2.32 ERA 1.055 WHIP and .219 BA allowed.
Kevin Gausman 1.49 ERA 0.766 WHIP and .157 BA allowed.
Robbie Ray 3.35 ERA 1. 1.165128 WHIP and .230 BA allowed.
Zack Greinke 3.56 ERA. 1.115 WHIP and .245 BA allowed.
Lance Lynn 2.14 ERA 1.004 WHIP and .195 BA allowed.
Last, I have a trade possibility in Zac Gallen of the Diamondbacks. He has a 3.67 ERA 1.165 WHIP and .195 BA allowed. What do you think it would take to get Gallen in a trade?