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  • Ranking the Trade Value of the Minnesota Twins' 7 Impending Free Agents


    Matthew Taylor

    As the Minnesota Twins continue to lose, selling at the trade deadline has gone from a possibility to an inevitability. How do the Twins’ most tradable assets stack up in terms of trade value?

    Image courtesy of © David Dermer-USA TODAY Sports

    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.

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    The Twins will do everything they can to unload Happ and Colome.  Depending on where they are at in the standings at the deadline they both could end up DFA's as well.  Shoemaker is one of the worst pitchers in MLB there is no trade value left.  He will be DFA'd when the Twins are ready to bring another young arm up.

    I think it is going to be hard to find a taker for Simmons unless his bat heats up.  He just is not a difference maker for most teams.

    It is Pineda and Cruz that have the most value and Cruz only fits for a few teams.  Honestly they could look to trade Polanco, or Arraez as they have 2nd base depth in the system and one of those guys could get us something we need.  Maybe Berrios but i doubt they find a deal that makes them willing to trade him.

    Hopefully the farm can produce players that can help us in 2022.

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    Shoemaker shouldn't even make it to the trade deadline.  In fact, once the FO determines that they're going to be in sell mode, he should be DFA'd if he hadn't been already.  The only logic that I can see for keeping him around at this point is that they're buying time for a prospect or the plan is that he is the corresponding move to activating Maeda.

     

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    Pitching always rules at the deadline and probably more so this year.  Therefore, I would think Pineda has the most value especially if a playoff team loses a top SP and Pineda would get playoff starts. Happ would appeal to a team in a tight race if he regains something close to his usual form.  They guy that could really jump in value is Robles.  He needs to get a better handle on his command between now and the deadline.  If so, he might bring as much or more than Cruz who is going to have limited suitors.

    Simmons is only going to have significant value if the right team has an injury or two.  That is not a reach this year.  Dman makes a good point about 2B.  They could make Polono or Arraez available and not hurt the team.  I am really pulling for Gordon to sustain his recent success.  It would be fun to have a base stealer besides Buxton and it would be like finding a good player out of nowhere given his mediocre play up to this year.

    They are going to move every pending free agent they can.  The real question will be if they trade Berrios and/or Buxton or perhaps a 2B.

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    Padres : Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios

    Twins : CJ Abrams, Justin Lange, Robert Hassell, Reggie Lawson, Anderson Espinoza

    Padres already are all in. They double down pairing Buxton with Tatis and bolstering the rotation with Berrios.

    Yankees : Max Kepler, Michael Pineda

    Twins Luis Medina, Oswald Pereza, TJ Sikkema

    Yankees get the left handed bat they desperately need and a capable centerfielder under team control, while staying under the luxury tax. Beef the rotation with a familiar arm they have already been linked to having interest.

     

    Get what you can for the other impending free agents, shop Rogers around and see if you get any bites. 

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    I wonder how much more in return we would get for Buxton and Berrios trading them next month vs over the winter? 
    Is it significant? Same question for Rogers.

    I wonder how the impending negotiations and the strike potential of 2022 plays into trade decisions?
    Will there be a normal season? Does the FO hedge there bet against this and go rebuild for 2023/24?

    I wonder if Pohlad gets squishy, and insists on a financial purge considering this years results and next years potential partial/compromised season. I am guessing the Donaldson contract is in his crosshairs. 

     

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    22 minutes ago, Tim said:

    Padres : Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios

    Twins : CJ Abrams, Justin Lange, Robert Hassell, Reggie Lawson, Anderson Espinoza

    Padres already are all in. They double down pairing Buxton with Tatis and bolstering the rotation with Berrios.

    Yankees : Max Kepler, Michael Pineda

    Twins Luis Medina, Oswald Pereza, TJ Sikkema

    Yankees get the left handed bat they desperately need and a capable centerfielder under team control, while staying under the luxury tax. Beef the rotation with a familiar arm they have already been linked to having interest.

     

    Get what you can for the other impending free agents, shop Rogers around and see if you get any bites. 

    That would be a phenomenal trade for the Twins but San Diego is not giving up that much for 1 1/2 years of control.  They made a bunch of moves but generally kept their top prospects while getting guys with more control than Berrios/Buxton.  The Trade Simulator shows Abrahams alone has equivalent value to Buxton and Berrios combined.  That said, it would be great to put together a trade for a top SS prospect.

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    Just now, In My La Z boy said:

    I wonder how much more in return we would get for Buxton and Berrios trading them next month vs over the winter? 
    Is it significant? Same question for Rogers.

    I wonder how the impending negotiations and the strike potential of 2022 plays into trade decisions?
    Will there be a normal season? Does the FO hedge there bet against this and go rebuild for 2023/24?

    I wonder if Pohlad gets squishy, and insists on a financial purge considering this years results and next years potential partial/compromised season. I am guessing the Donaldson contract is in his crosshairs. 

     

    If we were a contender... would you pay more to have a top player for the rest of this year vs just next year when as we all know a team might not live up to it's potential.

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    Let's face it: the pending free agents are not going to get much in return, precisely because they are pending free agents.  We need to start looking to lock up players who will be free agents in the next year or two, (Berrios , Buxton, and Duffey come to mind) or trade them now while they still have enough team control to get something in return.  Tim has the right idea when it comes to packaging players and maximizing their value.  Other scenarios as well could be drawn up, but the point is the same; don't wait for players to become "pending free agents" before signing or trading them.  And don't be afraid to package players and demand something in return other than A and AA hopefuls.

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    37 minutes ago, Major League Ready said:

    That would be a phenomenal trade for the Twins but San Diego is not giving up that much for 1 1/2 years of control.  They made a bunch of moves but generally kept their top prospects while getting guys with more control than Berrios/Buxton.  The Trade Simulator shows Abrahams alone has equivalent value to Buxton and Berrios combined.  That said, it would be great to put together a trade for a top SS prospect.

    I think the simulator is nice for offseason trades but the formula seems to be off on deadline deals.. Buxton's value is all potential and what he can do if he is fully healthy. That alone, your looking at a top 5 player in baseball... Pair that with the concept of him with Tatis.. I think he has a little more value than the simulator accounts for.. I believe hes closer to 50 million in value.....   I think there's a similar element with Berrios in that a team gets caught up in his potential and what he could be, vs what we all know he is... Think the Marcus Stroman trade, but a little more value. Range of 35-40mil probably.

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    3 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

    Sure did. 5 weeks of greatness, followed by another trip to the DL, does not cancel out years of data on him and others. 

    years of data?? I don't think this is a case of he is what he is... unless your just saying hes injury prone. sure...  What I initially said, in my first post, was when he is healthy, he is a top 5 player in baseball. Advanced metrics back that up as well, overwhelmingly... He's 27, going into his physical prime, the best is yet to come with Buxton.

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    We'll have very little to none interest in this group of players. Only players I see any interest drawn is Simmons and Cruz. I don't see us getting any worthwhile trades from them but I see us absolutely and miserably tank as the Twinkies of old.

    We'll probably have to DFA most of them to reduce payroll. Speaking of reducing payroll we'll need to talk about dumping Donaldson's salary if we can find suiter.

    Many talk about trading those under contract and those whose arbitration will soon be up. This saddens me greatly, from a highly ranked team optimistic of taking advantage many great deals to a tanking team that will give away their great players at discount. And what are we going to do with the flood of prospects that will come in? We've already lost very good prospects in Baddo, Chalmers and Wells to the Rule 5. How many more better prospects will we lose to teams with better records.

    We are digging a hole so deep that we can't see the light. I don't blame the players, I blame the management. Their missed opportunities, wrong mindsets and inability to find and initiate good trades that'd take us to the next level. I don't recommend letting go our key players, I recommend letting go our GM

     

     

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    4 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

    Pitching always rules at the deadline and probably more so this year.  Therefore, I would think Pineda has the most value especially if a playoff team loses a top SP and Pineda would get playoff starts. Happ would appeal to a team in a tight race if he regains something close to his usual form.  They guy that could really jump in value is Robles.  He needs to get a better handle on his command between now and the deadline.  If so, he might bring as much or more than Cruz who is going to have limited suitors.

    Simmons is only going to have significant value if the right team has an injury or two.  That is not a reach this year.  Dman makes a good point about 2B.  They could make Polono or Arraez available and not hurt the team.  I am really pulling for Gordon to sustain his recent success.  It would be fun to have a base stealer besides Buxton and it would be like finding a good player out of nowhere given his mediocre play up to this year.

    They are going to move every pending free agent they can.  The real question will be if they trade Berrios and/or Buxton or perhaps a 2B.

     

    Agree with all of this - I also think Pineda is the biggest trade chip, with Arraez/Polanco being dark horse options as well. Cruz is the obvious offensive piece.

    Would love it if the Twins could somehow find a way to offload Donaldson.

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    2 hours ago, Tim said:

    years of data?? I don't think this is a case of he is what he is... unless your just saying hes injury prone. sure...  What I initially said, in my first post, was when he is healthy, he is a top 5 player in baseball. Advanced metrics back that up as well, overwhelmingly... He's 27, going into his physical prime, the best is yet to come with Buxton.

    I am assuming Mike means that Buxton was a top 5 player for 5 weeks.  It's hard to imaging teams are going to value him based on those 5 weeks without considering his level of play for the past 5 years.  It would be or will be interesting to see how Buxton is valued if a trade comes to fruition.  However, I would have to believe his value will be quite high if he returns to something close to his level of play before he was injured.  Someone might just take a chance he will stay healthy the next year plus.  It would be great if the return was a good SS prospect.  It would be fantastic if they could get Abrams so I applaud the idea.

    I am with Bighat on Donaldson even though I have always thought very highly of him.  This team needs a retooling beyond just this year.  It would be ideal for him to get hot and get moved.  Add an asset or two by trading him and make room for Miranda.

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    2 hours ago, Major League Ready said:

    I am assuming Mike means that Buxton was a top 5 player for 5 weeks.  It's hard to imaging teams are going to value him based on those 5 weeks without considering his level of play for the past 5 years.  It would be or will be interesting to see how Buxton is valued if a trade comes to fruition.  However, I would have to believe his value will be quite high if he returns to something close to his level of play before he was injured.  Someone might just take a chance he will stay healthy the next year plus.  It would be great if the return was a good SS prospect.  It would be fantastic if they could get Abrams so I applaud the idea.

    I am with Bighat on Donaldson even though I have always thought very highly of him.  This team needs a retooling beyond just this year.  It would be ideal for him to get hot and get moved.  Add an asset or two by trading him and make room for Miranda.

    Correct, thanks for being more clear than I. 

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    None of those listed  bring back anything that moves the needle.

    To get something good, you have to give something good.

    If we are serious about improving the future of the the team, we have to move Buxton and Berrios.

    They are GONE in 1.5 years. Unless you think we are going to win the WS next year (we are not) then you HAVE to move them for value NOW.

    Frankly, I'd also try to sell high on Rodgers for the right price as well, because he will be more expensive next year and then gone in FA.

    I'd actually keep Palanco, Kepler, and Arrez because they could be better next year, are under control, and we'd  be selling low right now.

    If we are smart, we do a minny rebuild in minnesota... now targeting the widow of Duran, Larnach, Jeffers, Krilloff, Lewis, our top 5 pick (hopefully an elite pitcher from college), Miranda... etc.

    Suck it up and trade anyone of value that won't be here in 3 years anyway!

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    Oh, I didn't mention Sano, because he is worthless to us AND any other team.

    He will be on our MLB roster through next year due to money owed on his contract (then we can eat his 2023 2+ million buy out), but that doesn't mean that anyone has to waste a solitary brain cell projecting his future from here on out.

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    17 hours ago, Tim said:

    years of data?? I don't think this is a case of he is what he is... unless your just saying hes injury prone. sure...  What I initially said, in my first post, was when he is healthy, he is a top 5 player in baseball. Advanced metrics back that up as well, overwhelmingly... He's 27, going into his physical prime, the best is yet to come with Buxton.

    Years of data shows that injured players are more likely to be injured again.  History does have the bad habit of repeating itself. There is little evidence to counter the notion Buxton will be what he has been.  That he is entering his "prime" is not going to change his pattern of injuries.

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