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  • Do the Twins Have Tradeable Assets?


    Ted Schwerzler

    It’s long been the assumption that the Minnesota Twins would be active on the trade market this offseason. While they have money to spend, the best fit could be in shuffling the roster and grabbing players from other organizations. That said, are there pieces other teams will covet?

    Image courtesy of Nick Wosika, USA TODAY Sports

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    That seems like a silly question because the answer is undoubtedly yes; however, many of Minnesota’s most logical pieces to go have some very real warts. How does that position them with potential suitors, and what does it mean when it comes to crafting a package for a deal? Going through some of the expected names, it’s worth wondering who can overcome the drawbacks, and it will be interesting to see how Derek Falvey positions each asset.
     
    Max Kepler
    Kepler is probably the guy most expected to be moved. With a glut of corner-outfield talent behind him, Minnesota could try to open up an avenue for playing time and allow Kepler the opportunity to flourish somewhere else. Kepler is on a team-friendly deal and plays incredible defense, but the problem is his bat has never blossomed to be what was expected. After the 123 OPS+ in 2019, it dipped to 109 in 2020 and just 98 last year. There’s power from the left side, but a corner outfielder putting up an OPS in the low-.700’s isn’t exactly enticing. The value is likely on an upside play, and the hope that 29 is the year Kepler finally puts it all together for good.
     
    Luis Arraez
    Another popular name when constructing hypothetical trades for the Twins, Arraez is known for being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He has extreme plate discipline and is nearly impossible to strike out. Add in the career .313 batting average, and you’ve got a modern-day Tony Gwynn. Therein lies the problem, though, that skillset translates much differently today. Arraez doesn’t hit for power (just six homers in nearly 1,000 plate appearances), and he isn’t exactly fast either. He can play second base but is stretched there defensively, and both third and left field are adequate roles at best for him. Add in the bulky knees while being just 24-years-old, and that’s probably not something that’s going to get better with age. He’s a utility man with no true defensive home, and while he can be a table-setter, you best have the lineup behind him that can drive in runs.
     
    Royce Lewis
    If you want to start looking at prospects, it’s worth considering the best of the farm. Lewis is a former first overall pick and has been ranked as high as 5th on top 100 prospect lists. He’s now returning following an ACL tear before last season, and he hasn’t played in a minor league game since September 2, 2019. Following the .803 OPS in 2018 as a 19-year-old, Lewis sunk to just a .661 OPS in 2019. He needed to re-establish himself, and reports coming out of St. Paul from the alternative site in 2020 were fantastic. There’s plenty to be uncertain about at this point, though, and it’d be a pretty big misstep to flip such a talent at what could be his lowest value.
     
    The Prospect Arms
    Maybe you want to deal from the pool of depth that should be soon supplementing the big league rotation. Take your pick on the names Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder. Each of them is near the top of Minnesota’s pitching prospects, and all of them missed time in 2021 due to injury. The lack of game action in 2020 wreaked havoc on so many this season, but the Twins got hit hard in this group especially. How healthy are they each expected to return, and how does the opposition view those internal beliefs when considering a swap? There’s a lot of boom or bust potential with regards to any of these talents.
     
    Mitch Garver
    Included last because he may currently be the Twins best trade asset, but also the one I least want to see go. Ryan Jeffers has hardly established himself as the next backstop, and while more playing time could aid that, Garver is coming off an .875 OPS. Playing through muscle strains in 2020, it was clear that the 2019 .995 OPS wasn’t simply an outlier. Garver was a late-blooming prospect, but at 31, he will be one of the best catchers in baseball. His bat is a catalyst in the Minnesota lineup, and that production would not be easy to replace. If there’s a struggle in flipping Garver for the right value, it’s probably because most organizations are not focused on upgrades behind the dish. Miami was considered the best suitor but recently addressed the position in acquiring Jacob Stallings from the Pirates. Unlike the rest of this group, Garver is the type of trade asset that looks the best on paper, but I’m all for him staying put.
     
    Deals are going to be halted for a while now, but when they resume, Minnesota will have to find a delicate balance between moving players for the right value and hanging onto the ones that they expect to benefit most from.

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    The Twins certainly DO have some assets to deal.  And they have value.  The issue with the Twins is that they have a glut of talent clustered around less important positions (but positions that MAY be important to certain teams).  I put Arraez at the top (33.30  He has a higher trade value than Jeffers  19.2 or Garver 10.9  on Baseball Trade Values.  I would have put Jeffers second but that was primarily for Miami who now have their catcher of the future.  So that puts Kepler 23.6 and Larnach 18.9 next.  Polanco has the highest value at 45.6 but I'm not trading him.  There are good SP's to be had in the trade market with varying lengths of team control.  Unfortunately, all our glorious speculation will come to a halt until the "Business" end of baseball is taken care of. 

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    I think the first name on the trade list should be Josh Donaldson.  Unloading that player for a decent prospect would probably require tossing in some cash. So what, the money wasn't spent on ace starting pitching so spend it on top prospect pitchers or a shortstop. There are very few third basemen currently on the market. Might helps trade value because that boat has sailed.

    Next trade any other players who won't be a major contributor on the 2023 team or beyond. The Twins have the sticks to compete on a daily basis in 2022 but "at the very best rosy outlook " their current starting pitchers will only allow them to compete in 3 of every 5 games. Not win mind you.

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    Thanks Ted. With Kepler, Garver and Arraez you’ve identified three of our most likely trade options. I think you missed the most likely though.

    When thinking of trades, yes perceived “value” is critical because it tends to drive demand. The players you mention all could have substantive “value”, albeit all in the eyes of individual beholders, to one or more teams. 
     

    However, when deciding to seek to trade any given player, other criteria come into play (which you pretty much touch on in your comments), I would argue these specifically include the following:

    1. Team situation (i.e. is the team positioned to make a run this year or is it in some form of repositioning or “rebuilding”).

    2. Relative player cost (i.e. how much $ could be freed up and deployed elsewhere to generate as much or more contribution - this is obviously more important to small and mid market teams like the Twins)

    3. Player replacement (i.e. who would replace the player put on the block).

    4. Ascending or descending talent (i.e. is the player likely to improve production going forward or is the production expected to decline and how quickly - even if such future production is solid).

    So adding these criteria to perceived “value” it appears to me that the one candidate that best meets all of them is Josh Donaldson:

    - His second half was strong so he has perceived value to the market, notwithstanding his contract (especially with universal dh).

    - The Twins are not one or two players away from contending, but appear to be building to their next window in ‘23 and beyond (yesterday’s signing of Dylan Bundy is a clear acknowledgment that the FO realizes this - that was not the move of a team going “all in”).

    - JD’s salary (and based on his production I think we could move a lot of it) could be way better deployed.

    - Miranda is, or is just about, ready and needs to be best developed to be a big contributor with the new window approaching.

    - Josh is a descending talent in all likelihood, and given his injury history, it could be a relatively quick descent.

    Btw, plenty of the above could be said about Max as well. However, I could see us hanging on a bit longer to Max to get a better picture of Larnach, Martin and Lewis.

    Thus, if I were to rank the players on the Twins must likely to be moved by next year’s trade deadline it would be Josh followed by Max. 
     

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    Throw Larnach as a sweetener, used that in another post.  If Kepler is moved, then I guess Larnach is playing daily.  Kepler stays, I would play Kiriloff in OF more than 1st base.  He can spell Sano couple days a week and you could put Gordon in utility role.  Arraez I would move with Larnach and pitching prospect in a 3 for 1 or 2 deal to get a quality starting pitcher

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    When I was raising my sons the subject of money and value came up a lot.  I impressed in them one rule of thumb that covers all aspects, and that is:  what is anything worth? (in this case it would be assets, or players)  It is worth whatever someone else is willing to pay for it at the time you are willing to sell it (or trade it).  Always.  Timing is everything.  Value, or worth, depends on who needs what you have and what they are willing to pay/give for it at the time it is for sale (or trade).  Before we know what we could get in a trade, for anyone, we have to shop them and that can be a crap shoot sometimes depending, again, on the timing.  That is why the FO gets the big bucks, I suppose, to make sure they gauge the proper value and don't settle for less.  If you don't get what you want for the talent, don't move it just to move it.  But if the right deal comes along, do it.  In my extremely humble opinion, everyone is available (for the right price) except Polanco and Buxton.  But, again, only for the right price.  They still hold value later.  

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    Of the players mentioned, Garver I always feel has the greatest value due to the position he plays.  I was on board with trading him after 2019.  I know most were thinking I was crazy, but he was at peak value and I knew he would never get back to it.  Offensive catchers that are adequate on defense are very valued and just about any team would have wanted him, expect the ones that saw what I did.  He was older catcher that had a breakout year in a season where everyone had higher HR numbers.  He was not going to carry that offense for years.  I was hoping he could have held it together for a second season to hold some value but that did not happen. 

    That being said, I still expect some teams will be willing to bring him on the hope he bounces back for a season or two, but his value is much lower now than 2 seasons ago.  In terms of the other guys listed, prospects will always hold value, but for mid payroll teams they need to hold onto most of the prospects and get that cheap years of control. 

    Kepler has little value at this time.  He is hitting the end of normal prime years and has only gotten worse.  His defense is still good, but he will not be a middle of line up guy like we hoped and is more a supplemental piece, which will not bring much in return.  

    Arraez is an interesting one because he can hit and still young.  However, as pointed out the league has trended to high HR rates and he will never have that.  Personally, I think he should fit in most lineups because a guy that can work the count and put ball in play should always have a home somewhere. Again he will not be someone that carries a team, but he will be a great piece on most teams. 

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    Got a question, Ted, regarding your comment about a "a glut of corner outfield talent behind Kepler."  My question is, who?

    Yes, Trevor Larnach is a good prospect, maybe great prospect, who is nearly ready.  But with the likelihood that Kirilloff is their first baseman, there is also a need in left field for Larnach to fill.  I guess some will include Austin Martin, but right now we don't have a clue where they think he will fit in or when he will be ready.  By trading Kepler, you would be creating two open corner outfield spots with one good/great prospect who is almost ready.  Who moves into that other spot?

    I keep seeing lots of people make this comment and for the life of me, I don't have a clue who those other great prospects are that are close to being ready to form that 'glut.'

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    8 hours ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    The Twins certainly DO have some assets to deal.  And they have value.  The issue with the Twins is that they have a glut of talent clustered around less important positions (but positions that MAY be important to certain teams).  I put Arraez at the top (33.30  He has a higher trade value than Jeffers  19.2 or Garver 10.9  on Baseball Trade Values.  I would have put Jeffers second but that was primarily for Miami who now have their catcher of the future.  So that puts Kepler 23.6 and Larnach 18.9 next.  Polanco has the highest value at 45.6 but I'm not trading him.  There are good SP's to be had in the trade market with varying lengths of team control.  Unfortunately, all our glorious speculation will come to a halt until the "Business" end of baseball is taken care of. 

    Totally agree with TopGunn. I'm not only looking at the player's value now but also his potential upside value. There I've listed Arraez at the top, he's not needed at any position and we can still trade him on the Tony Gwinn hype. He's only a one tool guy and we need to trade him before he bottoms out, the rest I see more upside.

    #2 I'd list the DH group, the ones that have a good bat and weak glove. Although these don't have much value there will be an opportunity when the DH is adapted. FO needs to work their butts off trying to sprinkle them through out trades to alleviate this horded commodity, to help free up and balance out our roster.

    To me Kepler is a golden glover at RF. If Kepler finally adjusts to the non-lively ball he could easily double his value but although we need highly defensive depth at CF and SS, RF isn't an issue. Because of our need for high end pitching and his trouble to adjust, I'd place Kepler #3 and use him injunction w/ others to obtain the pitching we need.

    At catching we have depth with Garver, Jeffers, Rodvedt and others in the minors that are overlooked. Having 2 RH hitting catchers is counter productive, Jeffers because of his potential is baked into his value and of his arm, I'd place him #4. Here I wouldn't trade him unless we had a great deal that's important to the success of the club. If we do trade him, we need a Castro type to fill in  because most of our depth isn't ready.

    #5 are our pitching prospects. Here I'd hate to trade any of them because you can't have enough pitching. But I can't help but to do this because most important deals would require this.

    #6 At the deadline, I'd take a long look at Donaldson and Sano. If Miranda is ready, I'd trade Donaldson. Sano is a difficult to figure out.

    Here is where I'd like the FO focus on not overpaying low ceiling dumpster divenees.

     

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    The Yankees have 2 top 100 shortstops in Volpe and Peraza.  IF they end up signing Correa or Story, they would probably make one of them, Peraza most likely, available in a trade.  They desperately want to move on from Sanchez despite reluctantly tendering him, so Garver or Jeffers might be of interest in a trade package.  Lewis is not certain to stick at short anyway, and could be used to spell Buxton in center, Polanco at 2nd, and probably at 3rd as well.  He could take the role Arraez currently has so Arraez could be moved.  Lewis likely will need at least half the year to get his feet back under him, and may not arrive at all until 23 anyway,.  Besides, you can never have too many shortstops.  If they don't sign Correa, the Yankees will likely hang on to both so this idea would be down the drain.

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    The key question is who can you trade for starting pitching or a closer, since it appears that the FO route isn't going to happen. We basically have everything else pretty well covered once we sign that stopgap SS. 

    To do that, we are going to have to find a trade partner that needs what we have in surplus - non-SS bats - and has pitching to trade.  I see that as Miami, Oakland and Cincinnati. Why? Because they're cheap and don't want to pay their talent. I don't see any of them taking a Kepler and Sano package or a Garver plus Kepler or Sano package because they are doing rebuilds and they don't want to pay those guys. We will have to trade highly valued prospects. They will want players on cheaper contracts for at least the next 2-3 years, if not more, and they are likely to want at least one of those prospects to be a starting pitcher. 

    My view is we have tradeable assets but they aren't Kepler, Sano or Garver. Those three are the second part of a muti-player package to entice a trade. The first part is the prospect. We have some redundancy with Miranda, Martin, and Lewis (and, to a lesser extent, Larnach), assuming we don't want to trade Kirilloff.  The most likely trade is a package of one of those three prospects with a Kepler, Sano or Garver for a young pitcher or even one of those three prospects plus a WInder, Sands or Enlow. Those are the tradeable assets. 

     

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    I'd trade any of them for the right price, but Garver is this team's second best offensive threat, I keep him unless I'm bowled over. Jeffers has never gotten me too hot and heavy, though I know some people like him better, if he has value I'd move him.

    But this team is so far below it's salary limit, any trades now after sitting out the useful part of free agency is only going to look like the team is intentionally trying to get to the bottom of the league in payroll. I don't know how they could justify giving away the young players for starting pitching when there was only one pitcher in free agency who would have made payroll uncomfortable.

    It would basically be trading the prospects for salary relief.

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    It appears that the FO is looking at 2022 as a transition year. If that is true then I would take a hard look at who we need for 2023 and who we don’t. My view is that Donaldson Garver Sano Duffy Theilbar and Rogers would be expendable in that scenario. I would also include Arreaz just because he is surplus. Donaldson you just have to dump for salary relief but the others should have some trade value. 
    If the FO plans to contend in 2022 then the only one I would trade would be Garver and Arreaz as they are surplus. 
    The scenario I’m afraid of is the FO tries to contend in 2022 and totally falls short acquiring the necessary pitching and we still lose without getting the trade benefits. 

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    This team has several tradeable assets, however, most of them are also key pieces to this team competing in the future. Unless team options are picked up, Sano is a FA after 2022, Kepler and Donaldson after 2023 and Polanco after 2024 (he has a vesting option for 2023). In addition, Rogers and Duffey are FA after 2022 and Maeda and Garver are FA after 2023. That's a lot of positions to fill. Some (most?) will be filled from within, so that takes Kirilloff, Larnach, Lewis, Miranda, Martin, Jeffers and most any pitcher off of the "tradeable asset" list, unless included in a package to fill a need long-term. 

    If the universal DH gets voted in, Sano and Donaldson become tradeable, but most teams will choose Sano because of age, contract and upside. If Kirilloff and Larnach prove they can play, Kepler and Sano become tradeable. Miranda and Martin may prove to be good UT types, making Arraez available. If Rortvedt shows he can hit, then Jeffers, and to a lesser extent, Garver, become available. Rogers and Duffey may best be used in trades to bring in more prospects. Donaldson either performs like last season, almost earning his contract, or doesn't and is DFA'd (think Pujols). I would hope a combination of 3B, DH and an occasional game at 1B could keep him on the field for 135 games or so. Miranda and/or Martin could make Polanco available, but I like him for 3 more season at 2B. 

    Unlike some teams, the Twins don't have much margin for error, the prospects need to pan out or the the reset button needs to be hit. Falvey and Levine's kids need to show that they are ready to be  prime time players.

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    3 hours ago, roger said:

    Got a question, Ted, regarding your comment about a "a glut of corner outfield talent behind Kepler."  My question is, who?

    Yes, Trevor Larnach is a good prospect, maybe great prospect, who is nearly ready.  But with the likelihood that Kirilloff is their first baseman, there is also a need in left field for Larnach to fill.  I guess some will include Austin Martin, but right now we don't have a clue where they think he will fit in or when he will be ready.  By trading Kepler, you would be creating two open corner outfield spots with one good/great prospect who is almost ready.  Who moves into that other spot?

    I keep seeing lots of people make this comment and for the life of me, I don't have a clue who those other great prospects are that are close to being ready to form that 'glut.'

    If it was up to me, with Buxton having been extended, I would be looking to start Celestino in LF with Larnach in RF. That gives you the chance to see if the adjustments that Celestino seems to have made in St. Paul are real, while not rushing Martin. Larnach is better suited for RF, I think, and Kepler might have more trade value now than we could ever reasonably expect him to have moving forward.

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    Who and where can trade players depends upon what the national league does with dh. If they have it where are all these teams going to find a dh. Will one of the leading teams in that league pick up on Donaldson. If offers a 2 way option. As for others,  name me a cheaper option at catcher that hits better than garver.

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    1 hour ago, mnfireman said:

    This team has several tradeable assets, however, most of them are also key pieces to this team competing in the future. Unless team options are picked up, Sano is a FA after 2022, Kepler and Donaldson after 2023 and Polanco after 2024 (he has a vesting option for 2023). In addition, Rogers and Duffey are FA after 2022 and Maeda and Garver are FA after 2023. That's a lot of positions to fill. Some (most?) will be filled from within, so that takes Kirilloff, Larnach, Lewis, Miranda, Martin, Jeffers and most any pitcher off of the "tradeable asset" list, unless included in a package to fill a need long-term. 

    If the universal DH gets voted in, Sano and Donaldson become tradeable, but most teams will choose Sano because of age, contract and upside. If Kirilloff and Larnach prove they can play, Kepler and Sano become tradeable. Miranda and Martin may prove to be good UT types, making Arraez available. If Rortvedt shows he can hit, then Jeffers, and to a lesser extent, Garver, become available. Rogers and Duffey may best be used in trades to bring in more prospects. Donaldson either performs like last season, almost earning his contract, or doesn't and is DFA'd (think Pujols). I would hope a combination of 3B, DH and an occasional game at 1B could keep him on the field for 135 games or so. Miranda and/or Martin could make Polanco available, but I like him for 3 more season at 2B. 

    Unlike some teams, the Twins don't have much margin for error, the prospects need to pan out or the the reset button needs to be hit. Falvey and Levine's kids need to show that they are ready to be  prime time players.

    I am hitting the "like" button, because the reasoning is solid in every situational scenario, but the number of times I see the word "if" brings me back to the realization that so much depends on multiple scenarios panning out the way we need it to or we end up where we started.  The only area I would disagree would be I would keep Kepler; he is a more than a solid right fielder and can spell Buxton in center if/when he goes down, or just needs a day off (and his contract is somewhat reasonable).  Otherwise, solid and thoughtful analysis.  

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    I don't think any of Arraez/ Kepler/ Garver or the major leaguers are going to return a good starter, maybe a 3.  Its still a route they should take but the return won't be more than a Manea imo.

    Its going to take some of the kids to fill the top of the rotation.  I wouldn't trade Kiriloff and probably Balazovic/ Ryan but otherwise pretty much anyone could be available.  Even 1 of Lewis and Martin might be available since they are kinda redundant now that Buxton has signed, still got to get a lot for them but they are real centerpieces to go get a Castillo or some in the range (see Berrios, J).

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    3 hours ago, RonCoomersOPS said:

    If it was up to me, with Buxton having been extended, I would be looking to start Celestino in LF with Larnach in RF. That gives you the chance to see if the adjustments that Celestino seems to have made in St. Paul are real, while not rushing Martin. Larnach is better suited for RF, I think, and Kepler might have more trade value now than we could ever reasonably expect him to have moving forward.

    To me that is a great plan b, when somebody gets hurt, you can go to St. Paul and get one of the two without adding some AAAA player to the 40 man.

    If you go into a season with two starting outfielders and a 3rd that historically misses games. what is the back up plan? bring other rookies or Rooker up that might not be ready, or bring up AAAA players.

    That is a plan that should get the FO fired immediately.

    They signed Buxton, have Kepler, you go out and get a cheaper right handed Left Fielder. Somebody that in no way blocks Larnach or Celestino if they are on fire in AAA.

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    2 hours ago, RaoulDuke said:

    I don't think any of Arraez/ Kepler/ Garver or the major leaguers are going to return a good starter, maybe a 3.  Its still a route they should take but the return won't be more than a Manea imo.

    Its going to take some of the kids to fill the top of the rotation.  I wouldn't trade Kiriloff and probably Balazovic/ Ryan but otherwise pretty much anyone could be available.  Even 1 of Lewis and Martin might be available since they are kinda redundant now that Buxton has signed, still got to get a lot for them but they are real centerpieces to go get a Castillo or some in the range (see Berrios, J).

    agree, but if I am giving up Lewis or Martin, I want at least 3 years of control. Somebody like Castillo just turns into trade bait at the deadline if the Twins are sellers at the 2022 deadline.

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    I saw nothing in Larnach's defense that was good. He looks slow. Nothing great throwing the ball. Didn't hit much. Sloppy defense. Some of those can be coached.  Some can't. 

    He Is a downgrade from Cave, IMO. We will miss Kepler if Larnach is our new rf.

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    To answer the title of the article, "Do the Twins Have Tradable Assets", I would say this: Apparently so ....because it seems many players which the Twins have released or traded  somehow seem to morph into the next coming of Babe Ruth or Cy Young. For example:   Lance Lynn, Ryan Pressly, Liam Hendricks, Nick Anderson, Zack Littel, Lamonte Wade, Akil Badoo, Shaggy Chargois, Luis Gil,  Brustar Graterol, Aaron Hicks, Niko Goodrum,  Kurt Suzuki, Edwardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson,. I call this the curse of  Big Papi ! How do we break this curse?  If I were a major league GM, I would be looking to trade with the Twins and pick up the Twins'  waivers.  

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