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Three Starting Pitchers to Trade for this Winter


After almost completely ignoring the trade market last winter, the Twins almost surely won’t be able to afford to do so this year. Luckily for the pitching-needy Twins, there are plenty of controllable arms to target.

The Twins could easily patch together a rotation by signing a small army of one-year rentals with an expensive front of the rotation starter for several years. Unfortunately, that may be a bit of a band-aid on their pitching troubles. The Twins should be looking for arms that can immediately take the reins in the rotation with several years of control and plenty of upside to grow. 

While the Twins can surely find a lengthy list of such arms to choose from, I found three that could be particularly interesting.

Elieser Hernandez
Hernandez has been far from a star in pitching-rich Miami, likely being their #5 starter at best. At 26 years old, his 4.70 ERA through 210 innings pitched doesn’t tell the whole story. Hernandez has posted a K/9 of 9.0 or better the last three years as well as showing impeccable control. He also has the kind of slider the front office loves, as the pitch has annually generated a whiff rate over 30% with a .158 xBA and .267 xSLG allowed in 2021. He’s also been working on a changeup which has a 34% whiff rate as well this year despite getting hit around a bit.

The big red flag on Hernandez is the home run rate which nears 2.0 per 9 innings in his career. His fastball gets crushed which is why he’s been working on the changeup. In short, Hernandez is already in the process of trying to correct his biggest issue and the early results are somewhat encouraging. With a pipeline of upcoming pitching in Miami, Hernandez may be out a spot as soon as opening day and therefore would be a low risk high reward acquisition for the Twins who would control Hernandez for the next three years.

Christian Javier
This may be shooting for the stars but Javier has the kind of upside the front office should be looking to acquire for this winter. Like Hernandez, Javier finds himself overshadowed in an impressive rotation. In this case, the result was a move to the bullpen. Javier owns a 3.30 ERA in his MLB career through almost 150 innings with a 10+ K/9 so far. Walks and homers have been an issue, but the raw talent far outweighs the red flags for the 24-year-old. 

Javier is likely in Houston’s rotation plans for the 2022 season although not as the front line starter he could potentially develop into. The price would certainly be high, perhaps involving an already established player such as Max Kepler or Mitch Garver. That being said, it’s a chance  to buy low on Javier whose price may never be lower coming off a second half in the bullpen. The Twins can get an established, talented young pitcher to mould into their next stud over the next four years.

Touki Toussaint

Toussaint is probably the most fun pitcher on this list because of his GIF worthy repertoire.

A former first-round pick, it’s easy to see Toussaint’s talent in just about every pitch he throws. Unfortunately, the nasty stuff that leads to his near 10 K/9 also accounts for his 5+ BB/9 in his career. Through 145 innings his 5.46 ERA doesn’t inspire much confidence, though the raw talent is as obvious as can be. 

The Twins reputation for turning around pitchers took a hit in 2021, but Toussaint isn’t Matt Shoemaker. It may just take a small tweak to turn Toussaint into a legitimate rotation piece, and his success in the MLB thus far is likely holding down his acquisition cost.

The Twins can target any number of pitchers on the trade market, but these are just three candidates that can be brought in with a good amount of potential payoff. Do you like any one the three more than the others? Is there another pitcher the Twins should inquire on? Let us know below!

 

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More interested in turning our own minor league prospects into stars than working on someone else's.  I am looking at Ober, Balazovic, Ryan, Strotman and Winder in the rotation next year.  I know I would not get it, but sign Pineda and let one of these be number 6.  If we are so good at tweaking, take our own.  It seems like the other teams prospects always seem more attractive. 

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"The price would certainly be high, perhaps involving an already established player such as Max Kepler or Mitch Garver. "

I've given up on the idea that anyone would trade a decent starting pitcher for Max, unfortunately. Right now I don't know that we could get a decent outfielder for him.

Other people's projects...I'm not convinced about our ability to work magic with them.

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This post lists three legitimate pitchers to target. Because they remain works in progress, each of Hernandez, Javier, and Toussaint profile as decent middle of rotation hurlers. These are good choices. I would add Eric Lauer as a possibility to that group and hope for some conversations towards a slightly better upgrade by targeting someone like Sandy Alcantara and/or German Marquez. Of course, these pitchers will cost the Twins.  Unless the Twins are going to a full rebuild and are willing to lose 100+ games for a couple of years, a few (2-3) experienced pitchers will need to be added through trades or free agency.

The Pohlads need only look at attendance figures for those teams that are competitive (TB/Oak = outliers) to see that a rebuild is near a million fans less per year. Prospects who are ready will push their way on to the roster, Tampa Bay being an  example.

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If any of these above moves represent the biggest trades this FO makes in the offseason, color 2022 a rebuilding year(and likely the the last year Falvine is associated with the Twins).  As others have said, these guys are all projects similar to some of our top prospects.  What we need to be significantly more competitive next year are top-of-the-rotation pieces.  We have the money for one top FA and position players to trade for another established, young pitcher.

Nothing wrong with these type of posts, but I sure would like to aim a bit higher.  This contentment with mediocrity, after 19 straight playoff losses is frustrating to an old fan who well remembers the excitement of 87/91.   Do I think this FO will make the moves necessary to return this team to a contender in 2022?  No, nor do I consider their employment beyond next year a step in the right direction.  Hope I'm wrong, but I'm afraid it's just not in this organization's DNA(from ownership on down) to take the necessary risks to do what should be done.

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Last year was a better year to trade because we had a few overrated players  that could've brought in a big name pitcher. Now almost all of those players have tanked and are worth nothing except Arraez.

I still think that trading with teams like MIA or CO is a good idea because we can unload some of our redundant players to give relief to our 40 man problem.

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I agree I would prefer we work with our own young pitchers.  However we are going to need a quality veteran or two to help out.  With a rotation of 5 guys with little or no MLB experience we would be assured of losing 100-110 games next year.  It would be nice for fans to know what kind of "plan" they have for the team.  They don't seem to take any responsibility for how this team was put together or have a plan for the future.  If they do I think fans should be told.

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3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:

More interested in turning our own minor league prospects into stars than working on someone else's.  I am looking at Ober, Balazovic, Ryan, Strotman and Winder in the rotation next year.  I know I would not get it, but sign Pineda and let one of these be number 6.  If we are so good at tweaking, take our own.  It seems like the other teams prospects always seem more attractive. 

"If we are so good at tweaking" .... that's the 64,000 dollar question.  Are we REALLY any good at tweaking?  I think the jury is still out on that....

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Toussaint isn't Shoemaker, but I think Hernandez is, due to the injuries and tendencies.  I like Touki a lot, I just don't know how to value him in a deal with the Braves, though they'd probably bite for an OF, depending on what they do with all of their rentals currently on the roster.  I tr.ied to post the other day about getting a fill-in SS to fill the roster for 23, and spend big money on a SP1, Ober, Ryan in the middle somewhere, and try to go cheap/lucky for another middle SP (one of these guys or resign Pineda), and then let #5 be in flux (Jax, inevitable bargain-bin pickup) until the rest of the kids can work their way to the rotation- Balazovic, Winder, Stotman, etc, with one of them filling the spot after the AS break.  I like Javier, but Houston has learned it's lesson, I think, and we won't want to pay the price needed (They'd want Buxton, basically).

 

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I appreciate the scouring for a deal, but the Twins need a #1 and #2 pitcher. Sifting through the bargain bin in the hopes somebody turns into one isn't my preference. 

  • Hernandez (26) will be nearly 27 at the start of next season and with 4 years in the big show, has only had 1 nice season in 2020 which featured only 25 innings pitched, but his FIP suggested a lot of luck in the limited sample size. His FIP this year stands at 5.08 suggesting, again, he's just gotten lucky in limited appearances. In regard to his "stuff" he's a soft tosser with an average velocity of 91mph without showing much in the minors. After 6 years in Houston's system, he still hadn't seen AA and was left off the 40 man roster. Miami selected him in a rule 5 draft so he got fast tracked to MLB from there and he's managed to hang on at the fringes with a team in a rebuild.
  • Javier (24) will be 7 years removed from his draft and 25 before the start of next season. Another Houston prospect. He's posted very uninspiring FIP numbers in the high minors and MLB as a swing starter. He didn't exactly fly through the minors and that's generally a mark against front line potential. His career MLB BABIP is .218 and he's due for huge regression from his 3.33 ERA to his 4.33 xFIP. I don't think it's a surprise his K rate and BB rate both ballooned this year as his velocity increased 1.5mph, likely due to max effort throwing afforded by the bullpen conversion.
  • Toussant (25) may have a gif with a 97mph fastball, but that's way faster than normal for him (94mph) and he's largely abandoned that pitch this year in favor of his sinker (93mph), I'd assume to get his walk rate to playable levels. He's basically a sinker, splitfinger, curve pitcher this year and that explains the drop off in K rate as sinkers are generally better at inducing ground balls and weak contact than strikeouts. Historically, his sinker didn't play well so I'm not sure what's better about it this year unless it just plays better without the four seamer. Without the strikeouts, there's nothing to see here.
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4 hours ago, Whitey333 said:

I agree I would prefer we work with our own young pitchers.  However we are going to need a quality veteran or two to help out.  With a rotation of 5 guys with little or no MLB experience we would be assured of losing 100-110 games next year.  It would be nice for fans to know what kind of "plan" they have for the team.  They don't seem to take any responsibility for how this team was put together or have a plan for the future.  If they do I think fans should be told.

I have said this before, and it bears repeating; this organization, from the Pohlads on down to the manager (and everyone in between) view this kind of information as being on a need to know basis and the fans are not on the list of who needs to know.  They get pre game questions, post game questions, and occasionally mid game interview questions.  And yet I have yet to hear them give a straight up honest answer to any of them.  Free agents, trades, injuries, long term contract signings........name something, and they won't just be up front with anyone.  And, no, they will never take responsibility for the years like this one.  Sure will take credit for the '19's, though, and they expect that to be their collateral for all future failures.  This crew is no different than any of the others, and it begins and ends in the owners box.  Never thought I would miss old Calvin, but at least he was straight up.  Do not expect to know anything about what the roster will look like in April until April; we are just the people who pay the bills.  We don't count.  

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1 hour ago, Mike Sixel said:

Trade for an already good pitcher, or don't bother, imo. They have plenty of prospects to fix.... No sense trying to fix a veteran. That's why you sign a bounce back candidate. 

While I agree that I want them to either sign or target a very good pitcher in trade, we shouldn't just write off a "reclamation" project. This front office traded for Odorizzi and Maeda, both of which provided outstanding results. They weren't only good, they were some of the best pitchers in baseball (Odorizzi 2019, Maeda 2020).

If this front office targets an under-appreciated pitcher in trade again, I'm all on board for it.

Bonus points that they traded with what I view as the two smartest organizations in all of baseball to acquire those two pitchers. While the jury is still out on the Dodgers trade, the Twins absolutely torched Tampa in the Odorizzi trade.

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The circumstances this offseason are slightly different than in past seasons. This time there is a decision between rebuilding and retooling. The former means we hang with the Orioles while the latter means we stomp back up front in the AL Central. I loved the trade for Maeda and the Odorizzi trade worked wonderfully. While I welcome a similar "find" this Winter, there also needs to be additional aims for recognizable strong pitchers and a hopefully successful use of the free agent market. The Twins have an abundance of outfielders and redundant infielders as well as an extra catcher. Every player is available, including Byron Buxton, as well as all prospects. This is not a time to panic but an opportunity to use areas of strength to shore up weaknesses. This can be done with a 2022 budget of $125-160 million. There are many options and the Falvine duo has a chance to identify which teams and players to move and acquire. My first three choices (at this time) to add via trade are Alcantara, Marquez, and Lauer. My first three choices to look at via free agency are Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, and Thor Syndergaard. What none of us knows is the interest in our players as a trade partner or the potential cost of the free agents. Realistically, the Twins need to add three starting  pitchers and some combination of free agents, trades, and "finds" will work.

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14 hours ago, big dog said:

"The price would certainly be high, perhaps involving an already established player such as Max Kepler or Mitch Garver. "

I've given up on the idea that anyone would trade a decent starting pitcher for Max, unfortunately. Right now I don't know that we could get a decent outfielder for him.

Other people's projects...I'm not convinced about our ability to work magic with them.

Kepler may be disappointing but he's a valuable player on a very affordable contract. He's still a gold glove level defender with the ability to fill CF and he can still hit right handed pitching well. I agree on him not being enough for someone like Javier, but I'd bet he'd easily get us Hernandez and would be close on Toussant.

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Agreed with the OP premise. The FO needs to acquire 3 starters this offseason. A trade for an up-and-coming project starter is a great ancillary pitcher idea.

Much like Pineda, if Toussant (or the other 2) is the best pitcher the Twins get, I’ll be upset. If he’s the third best pitcher the FO acquires along with a front of the rotation type and a strong number 2. I’ll be tickled pink.

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Cody, I like the premise of your article and the discussion has been stimulating.  I would lean toward tony&rodney, Mike Sixel and others in that while each of these 3 are interesting, I want to sign a top arm (Rodon, Robbie Ray, Gausman) and trade for ESTABLISHED SP's (Alcantara, Marquez, Lauer), perhaps a pitcher of two from the A's (Montas, Kaprillian, Bassitt).

We've established that there will probably be a payroll of $125-$140 million (if the ownership and FO deems a contending team is necessary next season---and they better).  We could use a complete list of FA pitchers (both SP's and RP's) as well as a nice list of speculative trade options. I'm not good at providing that.  The FA's should have an estimated "cost" attached to them.  (Rodon or ray 5-years $125 million).  In my estimation, those two have done more this season than Berrios ever has.  They would be worth the $125 million.    We can speculate all we want on what it would take to acquire Sandy Alcantara and/or Frankie Montas via trade by using something like Baseball Trade Values.  But with ALL the young pitchers we have striving to reach the big leagues and with "health" a factor for many of them looking to 2022, I'd rather focus on getting SP's with solid big league credentials as opposed to a "project."  We have plenty of "projects."  Much like needing a SS to either be the "bridge' to Lewis or a longer term fix if Lewis is OF bound, we need some solid major league pitchers who will give the FO time to sort out who will "make it" from the prospects and who probably won't.  Pitching is a fungible asset (much like QB's in football).  You can never have enough, and if you have an excess, you can always trade them to shore up other areas (much like the Marlins could this off-season, or the A's/Tampa Bay).

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If they can get anyone for cheap return I am fine with brining any of them in.  However, the more you give up the more you are expected to keep running the pitcher out there even if they are a fail.  We have many of our own guys to look at without being tied to someone because of what we gave up to get them. 

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I find it interesting that so many people see "redundant" players on the Twins roster. I mean I guess the argument could be made that they have an abundance of OFers, but none of those guys are good enough to bring back any kind of useful arm. If having more than 9 players for the lineup equals redundancy or abundance then, yes, the Twins have that, but I don't see the Twins having much more than 9 guys for their lineup. Who are all these redundant players people want to trade? Arraez? Isn't he our insurance plan for Donaldson and one of the best bats we can run out there? Refsnyder? Who's trading an arm for him? Larnach? Solid prospect, but just got sent down after the league "figured him out." He may bring back a guy along the lines of the guys in this post, but that doesn't solve our pitching problems.

The Twins need frontline arms. I don't see the prospects in the system to bring those back right now. Sabato had an awful start to the year. Larnach got sent back down. Kirilloff is a core piece for the Twins. Arraez isn't a power hitter so you won't get a big time pitcher back for him. Lewis hasn't played a baseball game in 2 years. We just brought Martin in, and he's probably good enough to be part of a package to bring in a big name arm, but who else are you putting in that package? With the injuries that ravaged our minor league arms I don't know that adding just 1 of them to a package with Martin returns you a guy like Marquez or Alcantara so you're talking multiple of our higher end pitching prospects plus Martin and now we're right back to having to sign a bunch of stopgaps while we wait for more prospect arms to arrive. I think free agency is the way to go this year as I just don't think we have the pieces to move to bring back real pitching unless you're talking about trading Polanco (I don't think Buxton brings back an elite arm). 

At some point we have to run our young arms out there and see if the pipeline can produce. If I'm ownership I'm giving the greenlight to spend on some frontline pitching, but telling the FO it's time to put up or shut up about the pitching pipeline. Next year is the year. Time to see the arms they've been developing. If the Twins can't develop their own pitching it's a lost cause. I'm more of a fan of this FO than many on here because I believe in their 21st century approach and the systems they've set up to develop prospects, but it's time to see. The lost year was unfortunate and now all our young arms are in their mid 20s. I don't want one of the guys on this list at the cost of giving up something from our system when the system should be ready to produce the kind of results these guys have shown to produce at the ML level. It's time to see what our system has. Spend free agent dollars to front the rotation then let Ober and Ryan start the year in the rotation and give everyone else shots, whether in the pen or rotation, throughout the year and see where we're going. Wasting 2022 and going into 2023 with the same questions about the system producing arms would be the worst case scenario.

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I still think we only need 2 starters.  Ober and Ryan take 2 spots then 1 of Dobnak or Gant or if he is still around Thorpe to compete for the 5th spot this 5th spot is fluid as Balazovich and Winder will deserve opportunities next year as will Woods-Richardson.  Resign Pineda and spend money on a good starter in FA or trade. The risk a are Pineda injury and Ryan takes a step back.  Ober is the most consistent pitcher with good control.  Like Radke, he will be fine as a 4th starter.  For us to be a winning team we can do it with an average rotation, a slightly above average bullpen and an offense in the top 3 in runs scored.    

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On 9/19/2021 at 10:07 AM, adorduan said:

"If we are so good at tweaking" .... that's the 64,000 dollar question.  Are we REALLY any good at tweaking?  I think the jury is still out on that....

It absolutely is. The nice thing about these 3 guys is if you doubt the Twins player development program these arms have been developed by other teams. In all 3 cases they've already thrown plenty of innings in the MLB and are ready to throw into a rotation (admittedly on the back end) for relatively cheap. We could still sign or trade for a front line starter or two, these guys are meant to be additional acquisitions that could turn develop more since they're controlled for 3+ years.

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15 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

While I agree that I want them to either sign or target a very good pitcher in trade, we shouldn't just write off a "reclamation" project. This front office traded for Odorizzi and Maeda, both of which provided outstanding results. They weren't only good, they were some of the best pitchers in baseball (Odorizzi 2019, Maeda 2020).

If this front office targets an under-appreciated pitcher in trade again, I'm all on board for it.

Bonus points that they traded with what I view as the two smartest organizations in all of baseball to acquire those two pitchers. While the jury is still out on the Dodgers trade, the Twins absolutely torched Tampa in the Odorizzi trade.

I did say sign a reclamation project.... I'm not sure any of these three fit that definition of you are trading for one though.

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Todays responses to this post are mostly right on and the  fans are calling for aces , studs and bulldogs ( quality pitching ) to win post season games , not just contend during the regular season  ...

Ownership has instructed FO to put together a roster to win games during the season and  to draw fan's to fill the stadium  ( didn't happen this year for obvious reason  ) ... low budget owner that thinks anyone with a pulse can play the game of baseball ..

Ownership and front office appears to never look at winter acquisitions  in building a playoff caliber team ,  just an average team to beat our own division teams , we can't beat the strongest division in the east ,,,  ( gee I wonder why ) ..

 

We are the twins fans that our owners and FO should be listening to because of love of the game ,, we live for baseball and they cater to younger partying types to buy tickets who just watch the scoreboards  and not the product on the field  ...

They could learn alot from us dummies ,, and i concur that ownership and FO have not taken responsibility to what I think in my opinion is the worst season the twins have ever played  ,  but still follow everyday..

even the year we lost over a 100 games was better  , because we were in every game but lost alot of close competitive games , got more hits , doubles , singles and walks strung together to score runs in the clutch ..

Good write up and responses twins fans , 

Go twins 

 

 

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Looking for a reclamation project? Kohei Arihara was designated for assignment. He is 29, only costs $2.5M for next season and has a long track record of success in Japan. I'd rather see him get a few starts before the season ends than Andrew Albers or Nick Vincent. He could also be relief conversion project this offseason.

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I just don't see them being active in the pitching trade market unless a no-brainer hits them in the face like in the Odorizzi deal. We have an over abundance of 2B/3B's right now, but I dont think anyone is trying to bail on any of them right now so who could really give us back anything meaningful?

I'm very curious if we could see stacked starters next year with some of the young guys. The minor leaguers I think will be plagued for a second year with lack of workload, but could see valuable experience in there rookie seasons potentially being stacked in the same game with another guy. 

1) FA/Trade Acquisition (I would not be shocked if they did a one year deal with Pineda since next year is probably a washg anyways).

2)Bailey Ober

3)Joe Ryan

4)Dobnak

5)Jax (5 innings)/Barnes (4 innings) for all nine innings OR Jax/Winder for all nine innings

I think the stacked starts could be really beneficial for young guys to get controlled innings each game, while also giving the bullpen some relief. It's also pro analytics considering it would limit young pitchers from going three times through the order. Balazovic could be ready by the middle of next year as well, which could shake some things up. 

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