When a team deems itself to be a seller at the trade deadline, the first names to go on the trade block are that team’s impending free agents. After all, if a team is declaring the current season to be a lost one, the best move for a team is to recoup as many assets as possible for the players who will be gone at the end of that season anyways.
The Minnesota Twins have 7 players on their roster who are set to become free agents at the end of this season. When the Twins ultimately decide that it is time to trade present for future, these 7 names will be the ones that everyone points to as the obvious names that need to be moved. Let’s take a look at how these 7 players rank in terms of trade value.
1. Nelson Cruz
While he has not been the same Boomstick that Minnesota Twins fans have grown accustomed to watching over each of the last two seasons, Nelson Cruz is still having a very strong year at the plate. Through 51 games, Cruz owns a .858 OPS and is hitting 43% above league average according to OPS+. The designated hitter is leading the Twins in home runs (10) and RBI (25).
A middle of the order bat like Cruz’s is the type of player that is always going to be coveted by teams pushing for the playoffs at the trade deadline and will certainly generate many phone calls from buying teams this Summer.
The issue for Cruz at the trade deadline is the same issue that he faced this past winter in free agency, which is the fact that he is a designated hitter. After MLB brought the designated hitter position back to just the American League, the potential number of suitors for a Nelson Cruz trade is much less than it would be if all 30 teams adopted the rule. Teams that could be interested in trading for Cruz at the deadline are the Blue Jays, White Sox, or as Twins Daily’s Cody Christie recently wrote, the reigning American League Champions.
2. Michael Pineda
Even more so than a middle of the order bat, the most coveted position that teams target at the trade deadline is starting pitching. Because of injuries that occur during the year along with the scarcity of position, there will always be the demand for starting pitching. The best starting pitcher that the Minnesota Twins have as an impending free agent this Summer is undoubtedly Michael Pineda. Since joining the Twins rotation in 2019, Pineda owns a 3.80 ERA over 220 innings while nearly striking out a batter an inning.
The problem with Pineda, and the reason why his trade value isn’t as strong as Cruz’s, is that recent performance suggests that Pineda may be on the way down rather than the way up. Over his last 6 starts, Pineda has posted a 4.85 ERA with an opponent OPS of .802. Pineda has allowed loud contact all season, and underlying numbers suggest that things might get worse before they get better. To top it off, Pineda has been dealing with injuries to his leg and forearm over the past few weeks, which will make teams nervous to pull the trigger.
Even with all of the concerns listed above, starting pitching fetches value, and if Pineda can string together a few good starts before the trade deadline, he could bring a decent haul back to Minnesota in a potential trade.
3. Andrelton Simmons
When the Minnesota Twins signed Andrelton Simmons this offseason, they signed an elite shortstop glove with an average-at-best bat. While Simmons’ defensive numbers suggest that he has fit that bill in the field, his numbers at the plate have been rough, hitting just .233 with a .601 OPS in his 127 PAs after coming off of the COVID-19 injured list.
In addition to the poor numbers at the plate, the issue with Simmons’s trade value is that there are just not a lot of contending teams out there in need of a shortstop. One team that could make a lot of sense as a trade partner for Simmons is the Oakland Athletics who rank 29th in baseball in terms of fWAR provided by the shortstop position.
4. Hansel Robles
The Minnesota Twins signed Hansel Robles early in free agency as a player they really liked out of the bullpen, and that signing has worked out well for the Twins up to this point. In 26.2 innings pitched so far in 2021, Robles owns a 3.04 ERA and owns a K/9 of 9.5. Contending teams are always looking to add arms to the back of their bullpen at the trade deadline, and there will be no shortage of interest in the Twins’ reliever. As is typically the case with relievers, especially ones on an expiring deal, the return on these trades is never too great. So while Robles will have a lot of trade interest, his return will almost certainly be less than the players named ahead of him on this list.
5. Alexander Colomé
There is definitely a drop-off in terms of trade value after number 4 on our list and the drop-off starts with Alexander Colomé. Colomé was a big name free agency signing for the front office this winter that has gone about as poorly as anyone could have imagined. Through 20 innings, Colomé owns a 5.31 ERA and is securely sitting at the bottom of all of baseball in terms of win probability added.
In addition to the poor performance (putting it lightly) that Colomé has shown on the field in 2021, the other thing holding back the right hander’s trade value is the mutual option on his contract for 2022. If the Twins (or the team Colomé gets traded to) wishes to decline Colomé’s option of $5.5M in 2022, the team will be on the hook for paying Colomé a $1.25M buyout. With how poorly Colomé has pitched in 2021, any team will decline that $5.5M and be forced to pay the buyout. Maybe the Twins can attach money to a Colomé trade to ease that financial burden, but at that point, what are you receiving back for the reliever that would bring back any type of value?
6. J.A. Happ
Yet another miserable offseason signing for the Twins’ front office, J.A. Happ has been atrocious for the Minnesota Twins thus far in 2021. Through 10 starts, Happ owns a career worst 5.61 ERA and a career low 6.5 K/9. Opponents are hitting .260 off the left hander, and with each start Happ looks worse and worse, posting a 10.17 ERA over his past 5 starts.
Could Happ put together a run of 3 or 4 quality starts and a team takes a flyer on him as a veteran with playoff experience? Maybe. The most likely scenario is that he either just sticks with the Twins for the balance of the season and eats innings on an injury-riddled roster, or Happ gets DFA’d for a minor league arm.
7. Matt Shoemaker
Zero trade value. None. Nada. Zilch. Not going to happen.
Do you agree with the above list of impending free agents and the amount of trade value that they possess? Leave a comment below and start the conversation.