What's Their Situation?
Coming into the season, everyone expected the Padres and Dodgers to be battling it out for the NL Central crown, which the Padres haven't won since they went back-to-back in 2006 and 2007. 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. And even though they find themselves 5.5 games behind the division leader and in third place, FanGraphs has their odds to make the postseason at 92.3-percent, making them the second Wild Card team and likely facing the Dodgers or Giants in the Wild Card round. Currently, the Padres are tied with the Mets with an 8.0-percent chance to win the World Series, which is 5th best in the league.
What Do They Need?
Like the Dodgers, but even more so, the Padres need starting and relief pitching. The Padres are 23rd in all of baseball in getting innings from their starters, leading them to use their relievers the most in baseball. Aside from Yu Darvish, who is currently on the IL and has struggled since the MLB cracked down on "sticky stuff," they don't have any top-end arms in their rotation or bullpen. That said, they have gotten good production from Joe Musgrove (SP), Emilio Pagan (RP), Pierce Johnson (RP), and Austin Adams (RP). They could also use a right-handed bat as they are a mediocre team against left-handed pitching.
Which Twins Are The Best Fit?
It remains to be seen if anyone will be willing to add any of the Twins expiring contracts who are at least partially responsible for the Twins being sellers in 2021. That said, I think the Twins could DFA Alex Colomé, Hansel Robles, J.A. Happ, or Matt Shoemaker on August 1st if they aren't moved the day before. In short, they would likely take anything (PTBNL or cash) as their return on investment rather than just giving up the players for free. Of course, the headliners for the Twins are José Berríos, Taylor Rogers, and Tyler Duffey, but I think Michael Pineda and Caleb Thielbar could be intriguing trade candidates as well. Thielbar is one of the most under-appreciated Twins, and despite being 34-years-old, he still has three years of team control remaining.
What Could the Twins Get Back?
The Padres have been very active on the trade market in recent years yet boast one of the best farm systems in baseball. They feature four to five top-100 guys depending on the source and two guys in the top-10. Moreover, many of their top prospects are close to getting their crack at contributing in the Major Leagues. You'll notice that shortstop CJ Abrams, a headliner prospect, isn't on this list because he recently fractured his leg, and I don't see the Padres willing to "sell low" on a player with such a high ceiling.
MacKenzie Gore, LHP, 22yo - Gore is one the best prospects in all of baseball and would require a haul to acquire from the Padres if he's even available at all. That said, aside from 101 innings in 2019, he's struggled in the Minors, where he has a 5.85 ERA and is issuing 5.4 walks per nine innings. He fits the current Twins mold, high 90's fastball with a slider, and maybe his struggles have the Padres ready to move on.
Robert Hassel, OF, 19yo - I'd be remiss if I didn't have Hassel on this list as he's a high-level prospect that would be hard to pass up if he's available, but he is another left-handed hitter of which the Twins are loaded (Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Matt Walner). That said, with his upside, it could provide a future replacement if they were unable to extend Byron Buxton, although his defense obviously would be a significant downgrade.
Ryan Weathers, LHP, 21yo - despite having less than 130 innings in the minors, Weathers has been forced to the Majors, where he has fared pretty well thru 58.2 innings. His xERA (5.29) and FIP (4.54) aren't favorable, but to this point, he has posted a 2.91 ERA and a K/BB of 2.33, which is decent. Like Gore, Weathers has a high-velocity fastball and a slider, although his best secondary pitch is his change-up. He's a step down from the first three prospects mentioned and thus more available and cheaper.
I grouped these guys because they are intriguing, a tier or two below weathers, and have flaws that would make them cheaper. All would be a risk to take on, especially Lawson and Espinoza, who have battled injuries in their time in the Minors. Lawson, who just recently returned to the mound, has a mid-90's fastball with plus offspeed. Espinoza, who hadn't pitched since 2016, has struggled this year to be expected after such a long layoff and was pumping high 90's in spring training. The risk in adding Lange is that he's only 19-years-old who can hit triple digits, making his health and development a bit of a wild card.