I was recently thinking about how everybody wants the Twins to trade with Miami for pitching, and rightfully so, but I tried to think outside the box and I came up with Zac Gallen as a possible trade target.
Zac Gallen played his college ball at the University of North Carolina. He was then drafted in the 3rd Round of the 2016 Draft by the St. Louis Cardinals. Then, in late 2019, he was sent along with another possible Twins trade target, Sandy Alcantara, to Miami for Marcell Ozuna. About a year and a half later, Gallen made his Major League debut on June 20, 2019, for the Miami Marlins. A little more than a month later, he was shipped off to Arizona for Jazz Chisholm. He is currently 26 years old and will not turn 27 until August.
Zac Gallen finds himself coming off a career worst year in his first full 162 game season. He pitched a solid chunk of the 2019 season, and as everyone knows, the 2020 season was only 60 games, so not a huge showing. In 2021, Gallen pitched to the tune of a 4.30 ERA with a 4.25 FIP. His ERA+ for the year was 99 (100 is league average) which places him as about a league average pitcher for that year. Before 2021, Gallen had never posted an ERA+ below 150, which is pretty insane, albeit only in 2 short years. He also had 3 stints on the 10 day IL in 2021, but before that I couldn't find any injury history, which is a very good thing. He still was able to pitch 121.1 innings in 2021. Also, Gallen posted a 2.3 WAR in 2021. Gallen had a very good K rate in 2021, 26.6% to be exact, which places him in the 70th percentile. But coming with that is a below average walk rate, which in 2021 was 9.4%, which is better than previous years but still not very good. That placed him in the 36th percentile. If you are one for advanced stats, I will post his 2020 and 2021 Baseball Savant profiles below.
Obviously 2021 looks very bleak besides a few stats, but I think it was just a "down" year, which still made him at worst an MLB average starter. I think the 2020 stats are more of a true showing for Gallen.
With Gallen you are getting a 5/6 pitch starter. Gallen's main pitch is his fastball, which makes sense, it averaged 93.4 MPH in 2021. His second pitch is his changeup, which he threw 16.7% of the time, and his third pitch is a curve, which he threw 12.5% of the time. His other pitches are a slider and cutter, which he threw 8.5% and 8.3% of the time. Baseball savant also says he has a sinker, but threw it 0.4% of the time in 2021, so it could have been a few game thing or just a misreading. Gallen is a fairly high strikeout pitcher, 25-30% throughout his career, but also walks his fair share, between 8-12% throughout his career, although it is trending downwards. Gallen had good success in his first 2 years, not having an ERA above 3 until this year. He also finished top 10 in NL Cy Young voting in 2020, at 9th place.
Now onto Gallen's current situation. Gallen is currently pre-arbitration, so he will be making near the league minimum. He is under team control through 25, with arbitration from 2023-25. He will be very affordable to say the least. He is playing on a Diamondbacks team that is nowhere near contention, playing in the most stacked division in baseball, the NL West. The Dodgers aren't going anywhere soon, but the Padres underperformed in 2021, and the Giants could lose some key pieces in free agency, and the Rockies, well, they're the Rockies. So the Diamondbacks could be willing to trade Gallen for younger talent, likely a top prospect or two in the Twins system. Gallen's name was also brought up a little near last years trade deadline, although not to the Twins, making a trade slightly more plausible.
I cannot think of a specific package the Twins could send over for Gallen. Baseball Trade Values ranks Gallen at a 47.7 value, being Arizona's most valuable trade chip. To put that into perspective, the Twins highest trade chip according to the website is Alex Kirilloff, at 33.6. The Diamondbacks don't have tons of gaping holes like you would expect a 52-110 team to have. Obviously they need pitching help, but It wouldn't make a lot of sense for the Twins to trade young pitching for more young pitchers. They do not need a catcher, which is a position we have a talent surplus at. The Diamondbacks have lots of passable veterans filling in at positions, like David Peralta, Josh Rojas and Cristian Walker. Their best position player without a doubt is Ketel Marte, patrolling centerfield. The Twins could possibly Trade Larnach to help with the D-Backs corner outfield situation. Larnach is a young, cheap outfielder with tons of potential. I am almost positive the Diamondbacks would want some pitching back in a deal, possibly requiring a young arm like Woods-Richardson, Canterino, or Balazovic to name a few. They could also go the route of trying to get a top prospect like what they traded for Gallen. Royce Lewis and Austin Martin fit that bill, especially if the Twins sign a shortstop for the long term in free agency. I have not called the Diamondbacks front office so there is no way I could know exactly what they want or even if they would still trade Gallen so these are all just guesses.
Although it is very unlikely, I had fun doing research on a future star in Zac Gallen. I truly believe he could become an ace in the future, with the floor of a #3 starter. This offseason brings a bunch of questions for many teams, including the Twins, so obviously we all want to solve them. Would you guys rather jump into contention now at the cost of some very good prospects, or wait it out and have a few bad years and try and make a run with the incoming crop? Drop a comment and let me know, thank you for reading!