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This Trade Deadline Will Not Be a Simple Endeavor


Twins Daily Contributor

Recently, there has been one consistent chorus amongst Twins fans, sung with such coordination that they could adequately back up on a Queen track: “when the Twins add at the deadline…” Indeed, even this author has dabbled in assuming this, but finding a proper trade may be a trickier proposition than we think.

 

Let’s get one thing out of the way immediately: this is not a pre-emptive defense of the team if they fail to make a big splash; anyone who implies so in the comments will have their thinking privileges taken away. Pointing out the challenges of navigating the trade deadline in 2022 is not equal to offering consent for possible inaction.

When we speak of trading for a player, it’s easy to allude vaguely to quality players, veterans on poor teams begging to find a more successful franchise to aid with their incredible skills. We look to the Nether, or the Upside-Down, and claim that Capable Reliever is sitting there, moping around on Bad Team, waiting for a Better Franchise to scoop them up. Yes, players like that exist on losing teams, but they must be specifically identified, not nebulously referred to.

Finding that player is going to be harder this season; the extra wild card playoff spot ensures that the typical suspects—the Yankees, the Red Sox, and the Dodgers—will have company as teams who otherwise never had a chance—those sitting around .500 looking at the third wild card spot—are now likely to enter the negotiation table as a buyer.

It may not seem like a significant calculus change, but 17 teams either claim a playoff spot or sit no further than three games away from one; that’s a lopsided field. At the deadline in 2021, there were only 12 such franchises. Most teams in MLB should legitimately enter into trade negotiations, shooting up the value of the few coveted players on bad teams. It’s double jeopardy; each franchise that doesn’t sell will likely become one to buy. In a pool of 30 teams, each minor shift could drastically alter the deadline’s power balance.

The Twins are in a bad spot for another reason: they’re basic. What pieces do they need the most? Starting and relief pitchers. What players do most buyers need every year? Starting and relief pitchers. When 10 teams want Tyler Mahle as well, you will have to part with much better prospects than you anticipated to deal; if the team plays as conservative as they have under this regime at past deadlines, they’ll end up with some bubblegum and a Wade Boggs rookie card. The aforementioned Mahle, Frankie Montas, and Luis Castillo; relievers like David Robertson, Scott Effross, and David Bednar; such players will be involved in enormous bidding wars, more so than usual. The Twins could easily find themselves with S*m D*s*n 2.0 if they are too careful.

All of this—the messy trade deadline combined with a team needing reinforcements and a Carlos Correa contract drama that this article didn’t even touch on—must force the Twins’ hand and move them away from conservatism. If they repeat their strategy in 2019 and avoid pushing beyond comfort for the big splash, they’ll have no chance at acquiring the player talent they need; other teams will overwhelm them with competitive offers. 

Will it happen? The front office proved capable of some genuinely chaotic moves when they dealt their recent first-round pick for Sonny Gray, then shocked baseball by swiping Carlos Correa up in free agency; signing Josh Donaldson and dealing a top prospect in Brusdar Graterol for Kenta Maeda broke the mold as well. They may be working on an absurd deal as we wait.

Until that trade bursts through to the public through a Jeff Passan tweet, we can only imagine the deals teams are discussing. The extra few legitimate buyers could alter the negotiations, upsetting the dynamic by limiting who is available to franchises looking to win. The Twins will need to continue acting aggressively, remembering that prospects often bust while flags fly forever.

 

 


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My gut hunch is that there will be one decent RP and one controllable catcher involved. For the reasons you brought up, probably the other bidding wars will go up too high.

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I'd say that 1-2 decent to good RP is most likely (and most needed). In on, but ultimately lose out on Castillo and Montas. Maybe a bat/catcher, but I doubt it.

 

Whatever happens the front office is likely to say that "Maeda and Alcala are right around the corner and will be like trading for 1-2 decent to good RP that we already have".  Or something like that.

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Yes there are fewer bad teams. Worse yet is the reason they are bad, They have very few good pitchers. Fewer yet on expiring contracts. The usual suspects in the last few years that got moved seem to be retired, the market is going to be bare. There will most likely be a player added, just don’t expect to be wowed

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The reasons presented in these discussions for the Twins to be buyers would also be reasons for the following teams to be buyers:

NYY, TB, Bos, Tor, Bal, Cle, CWS, Hou, Sea, NYM, Atl, Phi, Mil, StL, LAD, SD, SF.

Including our favorite team that makes 18 teams. 60% of MLB. What makes anyone think that the Twins are so special that we would get everything on our wish list at a bargain? Based on supply and demand it's pretty much a lock that any impact player would be moved only for an egregious overpayment.

So should we buy?

 

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Great OP, BTW!

But I'm going to offer a somewhat contrary position. And I could end up being very, very wrong, of course.

A few of those teams, Baltimore as an example, have hit a hot streak. And once you make the playoffs, who knows what can happen? And the Twins are sitting in that seat as well. Bit some of these teams are still in a re-build frame of mind. Are they all prepared to make trades, sacrifice some solid players, in the hopes of taking their shot at this moment?

Maybe they are and the competition for available talent will be as great as stated. But maybe a couple of them will sit pat and clutch to what they have. And maybe a couple will be looking at their system, and be willing to let someone go in order to add a few more pieces to assist a year or two from now.

It's going to be interesting, that's for sure.

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I hadn't thought about this complication before. Obviously it's rough for the Twins to have stiffer competition for trades, but if expanded playoffs mean more contenders, and more contenders mean more buyers, and more buyers mean that the sellers get a better haul, then bad teams that sell at the deadline get stronger sooner. Could it be that expanded playoffs are (gulp) good for baseball???

 

(for the record, I hate expanded playoffs)

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44 minutes ago, Unwinder said:

I hadn't thought about this complication before. Obviously it's rough for the Twins to have stiffer competition for trades, but if expanded playoffs mean more contenders, and more contenders mean more buyers, and more buyers mean that the sellers get a better haul, then bad teams that sell at the deadline get stronger sooner. Could it be that expanded playoffs are (gulp) good for baseball???

 

(for the record, I hate expanded playoffs)

Following this logic, if the Twins cannot get a firm commitment from Correa, then the Twins should pivot to seller mode, trade Correa, Urshela, and Duffy, for AAA talent, and load up for 2023.

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3 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

Following this logic, if the Twins cannot get a firm commitment from Correa, then the Twins should pivot to seller mode, trade Correa, Urshela, and Duffy, for AAA talent, and load up for 2023.

Honestly, as absurd as it is to suggest that a 1st place team should be in seller mode, I feel like it is a path that should strongly be considered.

 

The worst way to go is to make a half-hearted attempt to win this year, like acquiring David Robertson and nobody else. And the more I look at it, the more I feel like that is the biggest possibility. We don't have the ammo or the willingness to pay for guys like Castillo and Montas, and given that we likely have to go through both the Astros and Yankees to even make the World Series, our chances of winning it all are slim to none as it stands. Even though it would hurt to sell Correa, we might get a haul for him that could help us next year.

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