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  • 4 Reliever Options the Minnesota Twins Should Trade For Right Now


    Matthew Taylor

    The Minnesota Twins bullpen is in dire straits and changes need to be made. There are four relievers that the Twins should try to trade for right now.

    Image courtesy of © Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

    Nick Nelson of Twins Daily wrote on Tuesday night about the potential paths the Twins can take to improve their bullpen, one of those paths included making an early-season trade. While trades typically aren’t made until closer to the trade deadline when teams have a better idea as to whether or not they are sellers, time is not on the Twins’ side, and there are already some teams that figure to be in a sell-now mindset who have quality arms to offer.

     

    Richard Rodríguez, Pittsburgh Pirates

     

    Rodríguez was a popular name in the offseason as a potential trade target for the Minnesota Twins after he posted a 2.70 ERA in 23 1/3 innings for the Pirates in 2020. Now 12 games into the 2021 season, Rodríguez has been even better. Through 12 1/3 innings this season, the right hander has yet to allow a run, and has only allowed one hit and one walk thus far. While Rodríguez relies heavily on only one pitch (Throws his fastball 89% of the time), players have yet to prove that they can hit it, and coming from the National League he would face a new batch of hitters who have little exposure to the pitch at all. Because of his elite performance and his younger age of just 31-years-old, acquiring Rodríguez might require some additional prospect capital, but the value that the right-hander would bring the Twins figures to be worth the cost. The Pittsburgh Pirates have the second worst run differential and baseball and figure to be active this trade season.

     

    César Valdez, Baltimore Orioles

     

    After he was outrighted to the minor leagues by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2017, Valdez opted to leave Major League Baseball for the Mexican League where he spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In 2020, Valdez returned to the United States to pitch for the Baltimore Orioles and he has been outstanding ever since. In the 28 innings since coming back to Major League Baseball in 2020, Valdez owns a 1.29 ERA with a 0.86 WHIP. The right-handed reliever relies primarily on his changeup and fastball which allows him to have success against batters from both sides of the plate. At 36-years-old, Valdez certainly won’t require much prospect capital to acquire, but his strikeout ability and whiff rates would be welcomed additions to this struggling Minnesota Twins bullpen. The Baltimore Orioles already find themselves in last place in the American League East and shouldn’t be hesitant to begin trading away their assets.

     

    Gregory Soto, Detroit Tigers

     

    The southpaw closer for the Detroit Tigers has shown that he has the stuff to shut down batters late in games as his fastball velocity is up to 98 MPH this season with a K/9 in double digits. The flamethrower owns a 3.89 ERA in 34 2/3 innings since the start of 2020 and at the young age of 26, could be acquired with multiple years of control still remaining. The Minnesota Twins could certainly use a left-handed reliever as Caleb Thielbar has looked shaky to this point in the season and Brandon Waddell has looked...did you watch last night’s game? The Detroit Tigers have been the worst team in baseball up to this point and have no reason to push for success in the present. Intra-division trades are never common, but given how far off the Tigers appear to be, it wouldn’t be shocking to see them send their lefty to Minnesota in the right trade package.

     

    Ian Kennedy, Texas Rangers

     

    The final player who could make sense for the Minnesota Twins as a reliever trade target is Ian Kennedy, from the Texas Rangers team that the Minnesota Twins just lost to on Tuesday night. A long-time AL Central starter with Kansas City, Kennedy has found success since moving to the bullpen in 2019 where he owns a 4.08 ERA (3.83 FIP) and a K/9 of 10.5. Thus far in 2021 in his first season with the Rangers, Kennedy owns a 2.08 ERA and is striking out more batters than he ever has in his career, thanks to increased usage and velocity on his four-seam fastball. At 36-years-old, Kennedy should be cheap to acquire, and the Texas Rangers figure to not be going anywhere in 2021. Maybe after the 4-game stand against the Rangers, Kennedy can just stay back with the Twins rather than leave with his current teammates?

     

    Which of these four reliever options do you think would be the best for the Minnesota Twins to trade for? Is there another name you think who could be better? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

     

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    Thank you Matthew for your article. All of them could help the Twins. I've been impartial to Richard Rodriguez. He's had a lot of success so far this season which makes him more appealing. Although his 4 seamer is his primary pitch, he has 4 pitches he can go to if needed (change up, slider and sinker). His stock has gone up but 2 or 3 low players could do the trick (more the better to free up our 40 man). PIT could go for a trade because I believe they still have committed to rebuilding and Rodriguez has been on the trading block earlier this season. Also we might have a few low valued players that could interest them.

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    Any of the 4 would be ok at this point.

    First 3 players I'd trade would be Sano, Kepler and Cave. None of them will be missed. You won't get much for any of them by themselves but if you package all 3 together you might get 1 good relief pitcher. Keep Kirilloff at 1B, bring up Larnach and Celestino to replace the other 2 and I guarantee you don't lose much of anything defensively or offensively. 

    When you stop and look at all 3 players it's scary to beleive that Cave actually has the best career batting average of the 3.

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    Any of the 4 would be ok at this point.

    First 3 players I'd trade would be Sano, Kepler and Cave. None of them will be missed. You won't get much for any of them by themselves but if you package all 3 together you might get 1 good relief pitcher. Keep Kirilloff at 1B, bring up Larnach and Celestino to replace the other 2 and I guarantee you don't lose much of anything defensively or offensively. 

    When you stop and look at all 3 players it's scary to beleive that Cave actually has the best career batting average of the 3.

    This is a good example of why you should look at more than just batting average when comparing offensive output between players.

     

    Anyway, I'm not optimistic that any team will be looking to trade this early in the season, which is really unfortunate for the Twins. I think Texas is especially unlikely to make a trade considering this is their first year playing in front of fans at their shiny new ballpark. The best bet for immediate upgrades will be from St. Paul, but even those players are unlikely to help much.

     

    Hello darkness, my old friend...

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    Any of the 4 would be ok at this point.

    First 3 players I'd trade would be Sano, Kepler and Cave. None of them will be missed. You won't get much for any of them by themselves but if you package all 3 together you might get 1 good relief pitcher. Keep Kirilloff at 1B, bring up Larnach and Celestino to replace the other 2 and I guarantee you don't lose much of anything defensively or offensively. 

    When you stop and look at all 3 players it's scary to beleive that Cave actually has the best career batting average of the 3.

     

    To be clear, you think you'd have to package Sano and Kepler to get 1 good RP? 

     

    Also, you might want to look at power and walks, and not just BA.....because every team does when assessing players' value.

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    The article assumes clubs will be dealing in May. Not impossible, but goes against the trend. Also, trades made in desperation rarely turn out well. Something needs to be done, but in the first week of May this is more likely to involve personnel moves, tinkering with deliveries, and re-thinking the strategy and tools to employ if the club is going to regularly turn to the bullpen with 12 outs remaining in games.

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    If Vanimal is right, I agree completely. If he is wrong, then the degree of my disagreement will vary depending on how wrong he is. ;-)

     

    Like most of us, I realize there is a certain amount of hopeful hype invested in an organization's minor leaguers. If only this guy could learn to lay off the curve / throw a better curve, he'd be a big star.

     

    In seasons leading up to the pandemic we have seen what usually happens. The guy simply can't throw that curve for strikes, or he throws them for strikes...right down the middle. Turns out that making it in the show takes more than making a baseball curve. Gotta throw it where you want, when you want, no matter the situation. What we discovered was that almost all the best relievers the Twins found in the minors were unable to make the needed pitches on demand.

     

    Nevertheless, the Twins should do this again. Call up the best relief specialists from AAA and AA. See if just one of them has the stuff to stick. After that, go ahead and sell half the farm for a couple veteran relievers. 

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    We’ve been told to be patient. We’ve been sold this window for a decade. The hubris, incompetence, and as always, penny pinching, of this FO and ownership group is currently robbing us of that. Then, what? Another 10 years of lip service about some fictional future date in which they’ll push the chips in?

     

    Frankly, I’m kind of p’d off about it. This franchise is a loser. Always will be.

     

    This has left an awful taste in my mouth regarding the FO, who I’ve been told are pitching savants (time to put that to bed). Go get someone who actually knows what they’re doing. Not some kid who clearly rode some coattails out of Cleveland. And what has Levine ever accomplished? He partially oversaw a perennial loser (Rangers) for 10 years. I’ve had enough of hearing about how they analyze data. Do something real.

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    Any and all of these 4 could, potentially, help and make a difference. Everyone drops down a notch in pecking order and maybe even relieves some pressure. I'm not crazy about making a trade this early as I'm worried about the cost. But then again, not sure any of these teams really expect to do anything in 2021. But might they want to wait until mid-season to better "auction" off their arm? Again, the cost concerns me.

     

    On the other hand, desperate times. And this team is too good to do nothing. Further, the system is deep and talented enough to trade away a couple quality prospects in the 20--40 range, maybe 10-40 area, to make a move.

     

    I'd do this tomorrow if we could and the value is there. No names because every prospect list is subjective, but let's say a #18 and a #26 prospect. Two quality young prospects from a good system to a re-building team that needs talent. Is that close? Can we keep the top 15 intact?

     

    If so, some sort of precedent has been set. I would then consider a second trade based on that precedent for a second acquisition, whether it's another one of these options or a solid middle/set up option from someone.

     

    Desperate times. Do 4 of the top 30/40 prospects in the system, keeping the top 15 intact, bring in a couple solid arms in May?

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    Here, we will find out how competent Falvine really is. He obviously made errors this offseason, and now he has the opportunity to address them (again). Will he do it? Past history doesn’t say that he will.

    https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=derek+falvey+and+thad+levine&docid=608023870053495060&mid=C4701133F2B8810C3D93C4701133F2B8810C3D93&view=detail&FORM=VIRE

     

    It is one thing to learn about baseball from a chat room....

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    Since I am a fan of Rogers, I'd deal for a righty first. All four seem good but are they just hot right now? I don't see why this team doesn't give Alcala a shot at closing. Yesterday's game was lost due to a lack of hitting in the clutch. Maybe trade for a clutch hitter??? I'm not quite ready to gut this team but it is disappointing so far. And the injuries don't help but other teams also have injuries.

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    And what has Levine ever accomplished? He partially oversaw a perennial loser (Rangers) for 10 years. I’ve had enough of hearing about how they analyze data. Do something real.

    The Rangers made back-to-back trips to the World Series 10 years ago, very nearly winning one of them, with Levine as assistant GM.

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    Trading for relievers is scary.

     

    If the Twins pull the trigger and make a trade, I'm hoping it is strategic beyond "These are the players who seem available." The Twins should be trying to solve a problem at a deeper level than, "Stop the runs."

     

    The Twins should analyze what the gap actually is before throwing more players at it or they will not solve the problem, and losing prospects without solving the problem is a bad thing.

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