I want to begin by emphasizing the point that there is less than a 0.01% chance of this ever happening, but reading Kiley McDaniel's mock draft the other day and his mention of "chaotic vibe" got me thinking about a scenario that would qualify as "Willi Castro-level chaos".
I want to be clear that this is not something I personally would want to see the Twins do. I think the clear and obvious choice should be to draft and develop whatever top 5 talent drops to them. But if that's not something they are interested in doing, I think this is a unique way to capitalize on that picks value.
Let's layout some assumptions for this scenario.
- There is a consensus Top 5 in this year's draft, all of whom are of a talent level that would be in consideration at #1 overall most years.
The Twins may not be interested in all 5 of those players:
- They are most interested in Crews/Langford, but in talking with teams/agents leading up to the draft, neither of them is going to make it to #5.
- Their draft models value hitters over pitchers, and they wouldn't be willing to take Paul Skenes at #5.
- The are looking for more immediate impact than a HS draftee could provide, and they wouldn't be willing to take Max Clark or Walker Jenkins at #5.
- The draft plays out the same exact way as Kiley's mock draft (Clark--> Crews--> Langford--> Jenkins--> Skenes)
- The Twins Front Office is starting to feel the heat and have decided 'Screw building for the future, we've lost 18 straight playoff games, no more', and are willing to go to some unconventional measures to improve this team at the trade deadline.
- All players mentioned from here on out will continue to perform at their current All-Star caliber level and remain healthy.
Based on the above, what if the Twins approached the Pirates on Draft Weekend and gave them the option to walk away with two of the top five talents in this class?
The Trade: Mitch Keller + David Bednar for Twins #5 Overall Pick
Now I know what you're thinking. I can hear you screaming at your computer right now. "You idiot! You can't trade draft picks!". Yup, I know and am aware of that, I promise. You can trade PTBNL however, which is our little loophole to bring this back to reality. Obviously the Twins can't just send the #5 pick and associated bonus pool money to the Pirates. But taking a page out of the 2014 Padres book, they could make a deal with whomever the draft at #5 overall on a list of possible Players To Be Named Later, which would send that prospect over to the Pirates immediately after the World Series.
Why would the Pirates consider doing this?
- The Pirates have been a nice story to start the year, but I don't think they (or anyone else) really believe they're close to contending. They're in this for the long run, and getting two top 5 talents in a generational draft would be a great way to do that.
If this were agreed upon pre-draft, it opens up some really interesting possibilities for them to get creative.
- Assuming the word leading up to the draft is that neither of the College OF will be available at 5, that leaves Skenes/Jenkins/Clark as the three options. None of whom the Twins want long-term, but all of whom hold immense trade value.
- The Pirates lean into Kiley's "chaos scenario" and take Max Clark #1 overall because he will take the biggest discount, thereby allowing them to float a first round talent down to their second round pick.
- Assuming the draft plays out as assumed above, that would leave the Pirates walking away with Clark + Skenes + [Insert additional first round talent].
Why would the Twins consider doing this?
- Assuming the two College OF's they really want will not be available at #5, this gives the Twins a chance to capitalize on the trade value of one of the talents they aren't as interested in.
The assumption here is that both Keller and Bednar will remain healthy and continue pitching at the level they have been.
- That means a sub-3.00 era, top of the rotation level for Keller, and
- A low-2's era, shutdown level closer for Bedner.
- Keller comes with 2.5 years of team control along with 3.5 years of control for Bednar, so you're essentially trading for the same amount of team control as you would get with the #5 pick.
The Twins would go into the post-season with a top-3 rotation (Gray/Ryan/Lopez/Keller), plus a lights out bullpen duo in Bednar/Duran.
- I know the pitching hasn't exactly been the problem this year like it has in years past, but perhaps they choose to just lean into it being a strength and assume some of the bats will turn things around to be at least a league average offense.
While the perception of this trade would be "The Twins traded Paul Skenes for Keller/Bednar", the reality would be that they chose Keller/Bednar > Jacob Gonzalez/[Insert second tier college hitter].
- Again, the assumption is (right or wrong) the Twins would not be willing to use their pick on Skenes/Clark/Jenkins, instead preferring a college bat.
Is this something I would want the Twins to do or be excited about the Twins doing? No. I think they were gifted a Top 5 pick in a draft with 5 top tier players, and to waste that by taking someone besides one of those players would be stupid and a fire-able offense. But if some of what has been leaking out is based in reality, I would rather see them utilize that pick value like this, rather than squandering it on a Jacob Gonzalez or Jacob Wilson-level player.
Would love to hear peoples thoughts and reactions if you have any! All I ask is that you consider the assumptions/scenario I laid out. This is all hypothetical and has absolutely 0% chance of ever happening, but I thought it was a unique idea and wanted to take some time to write it all out to see what it would look like.