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Around the AL Central (8/5): Deadline Shakeup


Ted Schwerzler
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The 2022 Major League Baseball Trade Deadline is now behind us. The AL Central remains a tightly contested division, even if seemingly no one wants to actually go on a run and take command. Minnesota brought in reinforcements while everyone else is banking on their own options to hold serve.

 

 

The Standings:

  • Minnesota 55-50
  • Cleveland 54-51 (1.0 GB, 2.0 GB of 2nd Wild Card)
  • Chicago 53-52 (2.0 GB)
  • Kansas City 42-64 (13.5 GB)
  • Detroit 42-65 (14.0 GB)

The Guardians and White Sox have used the opportunity presented by the Twins to draw closer. Back as many as five games just before the All-Star Break, both clubs find themselves within striking distance as August gets underway. The division might not be good (it isn’t), but it should remain interesting.

The Stories:
Minnesota made all of the splashes during the trade deadline. Needing pitching help, in both the bullpen and rotation, arms such as Jorge Lopez and Tyler Mahle were both acquired. After Ryan Jeffers went down with a broken thumb, a catcher became a need as well, and Sandy Leon was grabbed from Cleveland. The bullpen pecking order has changed, but it didn’t take long for Emilio Pagan to mess things up again out of the break. Carlos Correa is slumping and Byron Buxton continues trying to manage his knee issues. Rocco Baldelli’s club needs to get going sooner rather than later.

Somewhat shockingly the White Sox did virtually nothing at the trade deadline. They shipped catcher Reese McGuire out in exchange for lefty Jake Diekman, but that was the extent of their moves. A clean bill of health may be the best thing afforded to them the rest of the way, and that started with Luis Robert being activated off the injured list. Tony La Russa will need to do a better job managing down the stretch, but he’s certainly got a club capable of making some noise.

Unlike Chicago, Cleveland literally did nothing at the deadline when it comes to the Major League roster. Leon was at Triple-A when sent to the Twins, and although Ian Hamilton may have a big league impact, he too was pitching for St. Paul. The Guardians need a full rotation if they’re going to hold serve with Minnesota, and getting Aaron Civale back should help. He began a rehab assignment at Triple-A on Thursday. Steven Kwan currently has an 18-game hitting streak and prospect Tyler Freeman made his big league debut.

Despite suggesting they were open for business, Detroit wound up being quiet at the trade deadline. They did allow Michael Fulmer to walk across the diamond at Target Field, but Tarik Skubal stayed put. The Tigers ace probably sapped any trade possibility when he left his most recent start with left arm fatigue. He was later placed on the injured list. Hopefully it’s not a long injury or anything serious, but it’s obviously smart that Detroit is taking things seriously.

The Royals wound up trading Andrew Benintendi to the New York Yankees and then finally shipped Whit Merrifield to the Toronto Blue Jays. Merrifield had been a subject of trade rumors for years, but this time it finally happened. He did also go through with vaccination for Covid in order to be eligible to enter Canada. Former Twins prospect Brent Rooker rejoined the division when San Diego sent him to Kansas City in exchange for Cam Gallagher.

Heart and Hustle Nominees:

The Heart and Hustle nominees for each team were announced this week. Voting takes place prior to the All-Star Break. MLB defines the award by saying, "This esteemed award honors active players who demonstrate a passion for the game of baseball and best embody the values, spirit and traditions of the game. The Heart and Hustle Award is also the only award in Major League Baseball that is voted on by former players."

The nominees for each club are:

Minnesota Twins - Luis Arraez
Chicago White Sox - Jose Abreu
Cleveland Guardians - Jose Abreu
Kansas City Royals - Bobby Witt Jr.
Detroit Tigers - Eric Haase

The Week Ahead:
Things get tougher before they get easier on the Twins. A four-game set with Toronto starts the weekend, but then they travel to California and have a two-game set with the Dodgers. Clayton Kershaw nearly threw a no-hitter against them earlier this season, and Minnesota was clearly outmatched. An underwhelming Angels squad will greet them next weekend.

Chicago remains on the road against bottom feeders for most of the week. Playing against the Rangers and then headed to Kansas City, they should have plenty of wins to stack before returning home against Detroit. They could find themselves leading the division a few days from now with this slate.

Terry Francona’s Guardians have a four-game set with the Astros over the weekend, but then travel to Detroit and Toronto next week. They could be in a spot to lose ground if Minnesota and Chicago are able to string wins together.

Detroit has to fend off the Tampa Bay Rays at home this weekend which won’t be an easy task. Divisional matchups follow and they can’t get caught looking ahead, if that’s a thing for a team this bad.

Eris Hosmer returned to Kansas City as the Red Sox new first basemen. He’s there over the weekend before the Royals host Chicago, including a doubleheader, then welcome the Dodgers for three.

What are you looking forward to this week? Are the Twins actually going to lose the division lead?

 


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Pretty amazing to see Jose Abrea get nominated for an award for both the Guardians and Whitesox

also Detroit did trade former Twin Grossman to the Braves for something.

And lastly, It’s possible the Twins could lose the division lead.  But I think they will find it before we go to the playoffs.    It’s usually in the last place you look.

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