What's Their Situation?
Coming into the season, everyone expected the Dodgers and Padres to be battling it out for the NL Central crown, which has belonged to the Dodgers for eight consecutive seasons. To almost everyone's surprise, neither team is in first place, as the San Francisco Giants have been baseball's best team over the first 94 games of the season. Nonetheless, the Dodgers are only one game back from the division lead, four-and-a-half games ahead of the Padres, and their odds to make the playoffs are at 99.8-percent, according to Fangraphs. Moreover, they are currently the odds-on favorite to win the 2021 World Series, per Fangraphs and nearly every Sports Book.
What Do They Need?
The Dodgers are one of the best teams in baseball across the board but could benefit from adding some combination of multiple relievers and starters at the deadline. They've been without young phenom Dustin May, who was putting up Cy Young numbers through the first month of the season before needing Tommy John Surgery at the beginning of May, and it's likely they are down Trevor Bauer for the rest of the season as well. Adding to their list of unknowns, they placed future Hall of Famer Clayton Kershaw on the IL before the All-Star Break with elbow soreness.
They have top-end bullpen arms in Kenley Jansen, Blake Treinen, Jimmy Nelson, not to mention getting solid production from Phil Bickford but could use another reliever to bridge the gap between their starters and the backend of their bullpen. I can't imagine adding offense will be much of a priority for the Dodgers, but adding a right-handed bat isn't out of the question as they have struggled against left-handed pitching.
Which Twins Are The Best Fit?
Theoretically, the Twins have arms that could fit the Dodgers need, but, unfortunately, those same guys are a big part of why the Twins are sellers at the 2021 deadline and likely wouldn't garner a lot of interest or return on investment. Alex Colomé, Hansel Robles, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker are the players referenced above, who are undoubtedly available. Still, their collective performance makes you wonder if they'll be DFA'd on August 1st rather than traded on July 31st. That brings us to the most valuable MLB-ready arms the Twins have: Michael Pineda, José Berríos, Taylor Rogers, and Tyler Duffey. Except for Michael Pineda, a free agent at the end of this season, the other three are all slated to enter free agency following the 2022 season. I'd even add the most under-appreciated Twins pitcher, 34-year-old Caleb Thielbar, to the list of trade candidates, especially considering he's cheap with three years of team control remaining.
What Could the Twins Get Back?
Despite their successes over the last eight years, they still have one of the better farm systems in all of baseball boasting three to four top-100 prospects depending on the source. I believe that the Twins need to retool in 2022 and be ready to compete again in 2023, so I'd like to see them add pieces that might be ready to contribute at that point. As previously pointed out, the Twins have a wide range of parts that could create a blockbuster deal all the way down to a deal that makes the bottom of the back page in the sports section.
Josiah Gray, RHP, 23yo - up until 2018 Gray was a shortstop but has since transitioned to pitching and sports a 2.41 ERA and a 10.4 K/9 over 200 minor league innings. Despite the 2020 season mainly being a loss for Minor Leaguers, Gray did well enough at the alternate site to be added to the Dodgers playoff bubble roster, although he never pitched an inning. He's a top-100 guy across the board and would likely require Berríos plus one of Rogers or Duffey to make his way to the Twins organization.
Michael Busch, Util, 23yo - although he's played primarily at second with the Dodgers, he has experience at first and in the outfield from his time at the University of North Carolina. He was drafted 31st overall in 2019 but almost immediately broke his hand on a hit-by-pitch making 2021 his first real season as a pro. From Keith Law in February of 2021: "...his hit tool gives him the chance to become an All-Star," and he goes on to say "...could be an impact regular even just as a walks/power guy, but I think he's going to hit for average as well." Busch is another top-100 guy across the board and would likely require a significant package to grab him from the Dodgers. Oh, and he is from Inver Grove Heights and was a three-sport star at Simley High School.
Bobby Miller, RHP, 22yo
Andre Jackson, RHP, 25yo
Mitch White, RHP, 26yo
I group these guys because they are at least a tier lower than the Gray and Busch, have their own flaws, but also have reasons they can contribute to the Twins soon. Miller is the Twins prototype mid-high 90's fastball with a slider that needs work along with his command of the zone. Jackson was a two-way player in college who needs more seasoning as a pitcher and is already 25-years-old and thus would be cheaper while offering a decent ceiling. White is another Twins prototype and, when he's healthy, which is an issue, he's been good and has been a decent arm for the Dodgers this year.