Welcome back to another Mill1634 blog entry. I've been away for a while as I just finished up my degree and started out my first job, but I've still been hanging around in the game threads. Like many Twins'' fans, I am thrilled with the way things have gone so far but am also realistic that this team is not in a position to threaten the true top teams in the league. However, I do not believe that they are all that far away. It's no secret that the bullpen has been horrendous outside of Griffin Jax and Jhoan Duran, and the rotation has been surprisingly productive despite being with Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack, and Kenta Maeda for a large portion of the year while also getting poor performance from Dylan Bundy and losing Sonny Gray to the IL twice. Part of the reason that the starting pitcher's have performed so well is because of the leash Rocco has had on his pitchers. However, this isn't as effective when the bullpen is terrible. Today, I'll attempt to fix both the rotation and the bullpen. I believe that it is realistic for the Twins to trade for two relievers and one starter, but today I'm going to be aggressive and add two starters and three relievers. I'll also add a surprising bat that would have many Twins fans excited.
Identifying the Sellers
The first thing to do as the fake front office is to identify the sellers. I've put these teams into three separate categories: Will sell, should sell, and could sell. The first category is the true bottom teams in the league that I would be shocked if they don't have a selloff. The middle category are teams that are sticking around but don't have enough talent to really go for it. The final category, could sell, features a small set of teams that are either near or above .500 but are either over performing or play in a great division.
I don't think that any of this list is shocking or controversial at all. None of these teams have a shot at the playoffs, and a fair amount of them are at least another year from competing. The one team on here who will maybe hold onto some pieces is the Orioles, who have been playing good baseball as of late and are nearing a contention window. For that reason, I would be uber shocked if they trade someone with team control like reliever Felix Bautista. However, I think players that are expiring can be had.
Again, this is a small set of teams that I think should sell, and probably will end up selling. The Marlins feature a great rotation and are near .500 for the first time in forever, but are in 4th place in the NLE, and really have no path to the playoffs. The DBacks are another team similar to the Orioles, where they are playing better baseball than they have in a long time, but have some pieces that can be sold off to future on 2023 and beyond. The final team, the Rangers, spent a ton of money this off-season but still aren't in a position to push for the playoffs.
Two AL central foes here in the final section in the White Sox and Guardians. I do not expect either of these teams to sell, but could see it. The White Sox have been playing poorly all year and certainly have some pieces that would get a haul at the deadline like Liam Hendricks or Lucas Giolito. The Guardians, who got insanely hot last month, have settled back to earth and aren't really a true thread in my mind. Their owner refuses to spend money which is the main reason that I have them in this section, but I think it would take a run of poor play leading up to the trade deadline to truly see a sell off. The Angels, who have been terrible despite having two of the best players on the planet, are a prime team that should sell but I don't think they will.
The goal of this trade deadline is to make the team a true contender. This is going to be tough for some fans as I am going to trade some prospects that are highly thought of, including by myself. However, I believe that this may be the best team the Twins will have with Byron Buxton on it, as Carlos Correa is unlikely to stick around. The goal is to add one starter that is better than both Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, and another starter that I am comfortable starting in game 4 of the divisional series. As far as the bullpen, I want to add an arm that I am comfortable throwing in the 8th or 9th inning, and arm that is in the Griffin Jax/Caleb Thielbar tier, and a left handed pitcher, as I'm not uber high on Jovani Moran's control issues playing out well in the playoffs.
Acquire RH SP Tyler Mahle from Cincinnati for IF Austin Martin, IF Keoni Cavaco, and IF Yunior Severino
This is clearly the biggest acquisition I'll be making as the GM of the Twins, acquiring Tyler Mahle from the Reds. Mahle has great stuff and another year of team control remaining. He's certainly better than Joe Ryan, and is probably a half-step up from Sonny Gray. Mahle is likely to be one of the more sought after pitchers at the deadline, but isn't even the best starter the Reds will trade this deadline, as that title belongs to Luis Castillo. However, I prefer Mahle as I believe the cost will be a lot less. In the deal, we give up Austin Martin, who has struggled this year but still has all the talent in the world. The Reds may not view Martin as a centerpiece, but there is a chance that they do. Keoni Cavaco was a first round pick a few years ago and has finally started to come around for Fort Myers this year. Severino is a young middle infield prospect who is thrown is a lottery ticket. Predicting these types of guys is nearly impossible as all organizations value different things.
Acquire RH SP Merrill Kelly and LH RP Joe Mantiply from Arizona for SP Blayne Enlow, OF Matt Wallner, IF/OF Edouard Julien, and OF Mark Contreras
Kelly, who dominated the Twins earlier this year, is one of the least talked about names at the deadline. He doesn't have elite stuff and he probably isn't going to dominate a playoff caliber lineup, but he's a veteran that knows how to pitch similar to Sonny Gray. He's signed through 2024, although that may not be a great negotiation tool for the DBacks as he's likely not going to age all that well. He has an ERA in the mid-3's with the FIP numbers to back that up. Mantiply is another pitcher that isn't talked about nearly enough, and is the left hander that I would be seeking out if I was in an MLB front office. Mantiply has an ERA below 2 and isn't arb eligible until 2027. However, he's already 31 years old and with the volatility of relievers I would expect the DBacks to strike while the iron is hot. The headliner in this deal is Matt Wallner, who's been crushing the baseball at Wichita and is likely MLB ready. Blayne Enlow and Mark Contreras are both included to clear space off the 40 man, but both does have a small amount of value. Enlow is working his way back from injury, and Contreras is probably a 4th OF. Edouard Julien has an OPS of .876 for Wichita and has an OBP in the .420s.
Acquire RH RP Daniel Bard from Colorado for RHP Ronny Henriquez
Daniel Bard is one of the better stories in baseball. He left the game for quite some time but returned last season and is now a fireballing reliever who has found success in Colorado, which is not something to take for granted. The main reason the return on Bard is so light is because he is already 37 years old and is expiring after this season is over. He's struck out 38 hitters in just 30.2 innings of work, and has 16 saves with an ERA of 2.35. Bard would immediately slot in as the teams 2nd best reliever behind Jhoan Duran, and could slide everyone down in the pecking order. Henqiuez was acquired in the Mitch Garver trade and has had an up and down season for St Paul. I believe that he is destined for the bullpen, and could maybe even help the Twins, but I'd rather acquire someone who I know can help the Twins in the year we're "going for it."
Acquire RH RP David Robertson from Chicago for OF Yesser Mercedes
Similar to Bard, Robertson is a 37 year old reliever on a bad team that was out of baseball for a year and came back as a lights out bullpen weapon. He too becomes a free agent after this season. This is your classic lottery ticker prospect in Yesser Mercedes, who was an IAFA signing a few years ago and not much is known about him, although he is a top 30 prospect in the Twins system. Robertson too would become one of the better arms in the Twins bullpen, although I would have him 4th in the hierarchy behind Duran, Bard, and Jax.
Acquire 1B/DH S Josh Bell from Washington for IF Spencer Steer, 1B Aaron Sabato, and RHP Drew Strotman
This would easily be the 2nd biggest trade pulled off with myself in the GM chair, adding a game changing bat in Josh Bell. Bell boast in OPS+ of 158 this season in his expiring contract year, and will be one of the most sought after bats on the market. He hits for average and power and would provide power from both sides of the plate and would hit in the middle of the order. Of course, this requires us to give up rising prospect Spencer Steer, who I think should've been included on the top 100 prospects list at mid-season update. We also include former first rounder Aaron Sabato, who has huge power and draws walks, but also has a ton of swing and miss stuff. We also send back Drew Strotman who is a lottery type of guy in this deal as the Nats may believe he can still start, or be a weapon out of a terrible Nationals bullpen.
Now let's take a look at where the pitching staff as a whole stands assuming we are in the playoffs. I'll assume we're only going to use 4 starters in the playoffs, as most teams do. I will also assume that everyone is healthy, but I am assuming that Jorge Alcala does not make a comeback this year. I am also assuming that Kenta Maeda does not show enough to make an impact on the staff so he will be left off of this hypothetical playoff pitching staff, as well as what the lineup would look like with Josh Bell in the middle of it.
1. Tyler Mahle
2. Sonny Gray
3. Joe Ryan
4. Merrill Kelly
CL - RH Jhoan Duran
SU - RH Daniel Bard
SU - RH Griffin Jax
MR - LH Joe Mantiply
MR - LH Caleb Thielbar
MR - RH Emilio Pagan
MR - RH David Roberson
LR - RH Josh Winder
LR/Spot Starter - RH Chris Archer
Left off: RH Dylan Bundy, LH Jovani Moran, RH Bailey Ober, RH Kenta Maeda, RH Trevor Megill, RH Jharrel Cotton, RH Jorge Alcala, RH Tyler Duffey
This gives us a 9 man bullpen and a 13 man pitching staff with a great mix of right handed relievers that can blow hitters away. It also features two crafty lefties in Joe Mantiply and Caleb Thielbar, both of whom are deadly against left handed hitters. It also slides Emilio Pagan way down in the pecking order where I think he's best suited, and allows Tyler Duffey to throw mop up duty. Josh Winder can come in in the playoffs and give you multiple innings of effective relief. Chris Archer is a guy who can do similar things to Winder. I left off Bundy because he isn't playoff quality, Moran because I don't see the club carrying 3 lefties, Ober because he isn't good enough for the rotation and don't think his stuff plays up out of the bullpen, and Kenta because I don't know how his rehab will shake out so we won't count on him, as well as Jorge Alcala for similar reason. Megill and Cotton are both left off as I do not see them remaining on the 40 man roster if all these moves were to come to fruition.
DH Luis Arraez
CF Byron Buxton
SS Carlos Correa
1B Josh Bell
LF Alex Kirilloff
2B Jorge Polanco
3B Jose Miranda
RF Max Kepler
C Ryan Jeffers
Bench: C Gary Sanchez, 3B Gio Urshella, IF/OF Nick Gordon, OF Kyle Garlick
Left off: 1B Miguel Sano, OF Gilberto Celestino, OF Trevor Larnach
This gives the Twins a potent lineup with that adds depth in Josh Bell pushing Jorge Polanco to the 6 spot with Alex Kirilloff being the lefty that hits in the middle of the order, and Jose Miranda getting the start at 3rd over Urshella because he is such a better hitter than Gio. Jeffers gets the start at catcher as he's much better defensively, but both would play in the playoffs. Nick Gordon is taken on the playoff roster over Trevor Larnach as he provides speed off the bench and also the ability to play CF without Gilberto Celestino on the roster, whos off because of Josh Bell's arrival. Kyle Garlick is obviously kept on the roster to start against left handed pitchers.
How would you grade this deadline? Drop a comment below! Thanks for reading, and Go Twins!