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  • Replacing the Twins Veterans After the Deadline


    Cody Christie

    If the Twins trade away veterans on expiring contract, they are going to need replacements until season’s end. Here is some of the roster shuffle that will occur as veterans are dealt.

    Image courtesy of © Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

    Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month.

    DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz

    Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position.

    SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons

    Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans.

    SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda

    This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see.  

    RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles

    Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles.

    Can these play better than the players they are replacing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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    3 hours ago, Richard Swerdlick said:

    I think the Twins should consider bringing Simmons back for one more year, unless they do not intend to field a contending team next year. He has been good defensively, much better than Polanco. BTW, unless he is injured, I would have used Nick Gordon in CF yesterday.

    I agree.  Polanco projects to be the starting 2b next year, why move him back to SS?  The Twins will most likely be bringing in a free agent at SS for next year, maybe Simmons, maybe someone else.  Why mess with a move that seems to have worked this year??

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    I wouldn't just pencil in swing and miss Sano for full time DH.  Depending on Garver's health post surgery, you may see him at DH more time then behind the dish.  Squatting, stretching and up and down every time every pitch won't help his recovery from the injury.  Sano has been awful majority of the time.  Sano playing 3rd isn't shoring up our defense either.  

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    I don't like it, but other than acquiring a SS replacement in a trade, the only real option is to move Polanco back to SS for the rest of the season.  Giving guys like Gordon more playing time has to be a primary consideration.  

    Similarly, unless Sano is traded, I think moving him off of 1B to DH is the clear choice.  Rooker, or another option, could be called up to play LF.  This is an easiest hole to fill on this list, in my opinion.  Getting Kirilloff reps at 1B should be a priority, especially since Sano appears to descending into an offensive abyss.

    As for the pitchers, get some of the deserving guys up from the minors and give them an opportunity to show you that they could be useful or that it's time to move on.  This one is a little trickier, but I do like the idea of giving Barnes and Jax chances to start.  That exposure isn't a bad thing heading into the offseason.

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    Agree but I think either Burrows or an injured guy like Stashak or Smeltzer will take Robles' roster spot when traded.

    Hopefully, Alexander and Happ gets dumped too for someone else like Winder and Moran/Cano.

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    I don't know if he is ready or not but Palacios has a near 300 average and 870 OPs in AA right now.  If he isn't added to the 40 at the end of the year he could be lost in rule V.  It would be nice if they moved him to AAA sooner rather than later to see if the bat still plays there as well.  If it does why not add him early and try him out at MLB in a lost 2021.  If you don't like what you see take him off the 40 man. If you do maybe he is an option for 2022.  Same thing for Miranda he is killing it at AA right now and needs to be added to the 40 man at the end of the year. Why not ad him early and see what he can do at the MLB level. 

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    Love the idea that the Twins are able to move Cruz, Simmons, Pineda and Robles at the deadline.  Hopefully, a couple more get moved.  If they are able to move those four, hopefully, they get a reasonable return.  

    What may be more interesting than who steps into the role of the four, is who replaces them on the active roster.  When I read what you have a second time, it seems you are suggesting that Rooker replaces Cruz and probably Jax or Barnes replaces Pineda,  With Simmons gone, expect Gordon, Arraez and Polanco are going to be limited to the middle infield.  That would open a spot for someone like Astudillo, who can play almost anywhere.  Someone above mention Stashak or Smeltzer as replacements for Robles.  That makes sense, or maybe Thorpe if he is healthy by then. 

      

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    The best starting pitching prospect still standing in the Twins organization is Josh Winder.

    If the team moves Pineda, they should certainly give Barnes a look because he's been pitching well in AAA, but Winder ought to be right behind him after what he's done in AA this year.

    In terms of relievers, Ian Hamilton, Danny Coulombe, or Yennier Cano from AAA will merit looks, as will Jovani Moran from AA.

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    1 hour ago, Dman said:

    I don't know if he is ready or not but Palacios has a near 300 average and 870 OPs in AA right now.  If he isn't added to the 40 at the end of the year he could be lost in rule V.  It would be nice if they moved him to AAA sooner rather than later to see if the bat still plays there as well.  If it does why not add him early and try him out at MLB in a lost 2021.  If you don't like what you see take him off the 40 man. If you do maybe he is an option for 2022.  Same thing for Miranda he is killing it at AA right now and needs to be added to the 40 man at the end of the year. Why not ad him early and see what he can do at the MLB level. 

    I like this idea.  Move him to AAA and see how he does.  I don't believe in pushing guys before they are ready but maybe he could come up in September for a look.  Can anyone comment on how his defense has progressed?

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    6 minutes ago, whosafraidofluigirussolo said:

    Probably part of the answer to this is that if and when the Twins trade these guys, some of the  return has to be players who are ready to play in the majors. Not to the exclusion of farther-away guys with higher upside, but certainly balanced with those.

    No more Logan Forsythe's please.

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    Who replaces the traded players depends upon whether we intend to compete in '22 or not. If we ONLY trade the above expiring contract vets, then all the above answers seem obvious. If the FO goes hog wild and moves players like Buxton, Berrios, Rogers or even a Polanco, Sano or Kepler then we bring along this winters rule 5 guys much quicker - and probably get in return players closer to major league ready.
    I'd love to sign the trifecta of Buxton, Berrios/Rogers - but what would that be, $50M annually? I do not see this team committing $50Million annually to 3 players. I see no chance we sign Rogers for 3/20 - more like 3/30. Someone will give him that in my opinion. The other 2 are $20M each. I wish we would. Can't see it. 

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    2 hours ago, whosafraidofluigirussolo said:

    Probably part of the answer to this is that if and when the Twins trade these guys, some of the  return has to be players who are ready to play in the majors. Not to the exclusion of farther-away guys with higher upside, but certainly balanced with those.

    Not sure what that looks like. Can't imagine anyone is giving up MLB ready prospects who could turn out to be real players for anyone listed in this article. So that leaves the Twins getting back lesser MLB talent for these guys if they're determined to get MLB ready players. Not sure that's a successful trade deadline for this team. The guys listed in this article are likely not bringing back real prospects in return so their best bet is probably to get back some lottery ticket, low level prospects for these 4.

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    3 hours ago, In My La Z boy said:

    Who replaces the traded players depends upon whether we intend to compete in '22 or not. If we ONLY trade the above expiring contract vets, then all the above answers seem obvious. If the FO goes hog wild and moves players like Buxton, Berrios, Rogers or even a Polanco, Sano or Kepler then we bring along this winters rule 5 guys much quicker - and probably get in return players closer to major league ready.
    I'd love to sign the trifecta of Buxton, Berrios/Rogers - but what would that be, $50M annually? I do not see this team committing $50Million annually to 3 players. I see no chance we sign Rogers for 3/20 - more like 3/30. Someone will give him that in my opinion. The other 2 are $20M each. I wish we would. Can't see it. 

    My guess would be $55M.  The problem with that approach is that we our starting point is the same roster that has not gone it done but now spending an incremental $35M.  Of course, this reduces the payroll available for free agents.  We would have to move Donaldson in my estimation because the reality is that it would probably cost close to $50M just for Berrios/Buxton to get them to forego free agency.  So, that's $70M not $50M for three players if you can't move Donaldson.  Nobody is taking him at full salary so we would have to retain part of that salary.  No easy or obvious answers here.

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    Just now, Major League Ready said:

    My guess would be $55M.  The problem with that approach is that we our starting point is the same roster that has not gone it done but now spending an incremental $35M.  Of course, this reduces the payroll available for free agents.  We would have to move Donaldson in my estimation because the reality is that it would probably cost close to $50M just for Berrios/Buxton to get them to forego free agency.  So, that's $70M not $50M for three players if you can't move Donaldson.  Nobody is taking him at full salary so we would have to retain part of that salary.  No easy or obvious answers here and I agree the right approach depends on if you think we can contend in 22.  I say contend because competing when you ultimately do not have what it takes to contend is bad strategy if you are giving up the opportunity to acquire players that can get you over the hump. 

     

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    29 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

    Not sure what that looks like. Can't imagine anyone is giving up MLB ready prospects who could turn out to be real players for anyone listed in this article. So that leaves the Twins getting back lesser MLB talent for these guys if they're determined to get MLB ready players. Not sure that's a successful trade deadline for this team. The guys listed in this article are likely not bringing back real prospects in return so their best bet is probably to get back some lottery ticket, low level prospects for these 4.

    Those 4 aren't going to attract anything by themselves, but packaged with an actual desired player they might get a player in return.   We have to decide right now if we are going to sign long term Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, and even Duffy.  They all become free agents after next year.  Whomever we decide we are not going to commit to long term, trade now and package other players with them and demand major league talent in return; enough giving up real major league talent for "prospects" who may or may not ever see Target field.  We have a decent nucleus to work around if we get players who can play now if we have to lose guys, but not if we get minor league guys in return.

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    24 minutes ago, Mark G said:

    Those 4 aren't going to attract anything by themselves, but packaged with an actual desired player they might get a player in return.   We have to decide right now if we are going to sign long term Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, and even Duffy.  They all become free agents after next year.  Whomever we decide we are not going to commit to long term, trade now and package other players with them and demand major league talent in return; enough giving up real major league talent for "prospects" who may or may not ever see Target field.  We have a decent nucleus to work around if we get players who can play now if we have to lose guys, but not if we get minor league guys in return.

    I get what you are saying but in practice those types of trades don't happen very often mainly because when teams are trading away established players with few years of control left they are looking for prospects close to MLB ready mot MLB players as they can gain 6 years of control of a player for less money.  They are betting said player (prospect) will make it and hopefully in a few years time. Teams that get supplemental picks generally do this because payroll is limited and they need to maximize value.  They can't easily do that by taking back a MLB player unless they are on a contract that is priced low.

    Trading good established players for a lessor established MLB player and a lessor prospect doesn't really help much and actually is more likely to set a team back than move them forward.  That is why most teams trade established players for the best prospects they can.  There are exceptions of course but in general that is what happens.

    The Twins appear to be at a point where the players they believed in collectively haven't been good enough to take on the top teams.  They have too many pitching holes to cover in free agency and not enough good arms on the farm to cover enough holes in the rotation and or pen.  They need to maximize the value of the established players they have and trade for players that have greater future value if they want to move forward.  Hopefully they come up with a group that gels in the next couple of years that can move their talent closer to the elite teams.  If not then they have to start over again.  The teams at the top are not mediocre they have close to star talent at most all positions.  The Twins have to match that if they want to win the division and a playoff game.  I don't think they can do that with your proposed strategy.

     

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    1 hour ago, Mark G said:

    Those 4 aren't going to attract anything by themselves, but packaged with an actual desired player they might get a player in return.   We have to decide right now if we are going to sign long term Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, and even Duffy.  They all become free agents after next year.  Whomever we decide we are not going to commit to long term, trade now and package other players with them and demand major league talent in return; enough giving up real major league talent for "prospects" who may or may not ever see Target field.  We have a decent nucleus to work around if we get players who can play now if we have to lose guys, but not if we get minor league guys in return.

    Dman pretty well covered my response. Packaging Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, etc. with the 4 players listed in this article would be a move that brings back prospects. Maybe close to MLB ready prospects, but not established MLB players. Teams that would be dealing for current MLB players are looking to contend now, that's the motivation for going out and getting a Berrios, Buxton, or Rogers. They wouldn't lessen their MLB roster to do that. It's all well and good to say "demand major league talent in return," but that simply isn't how it works. The other team is looking to upgrade their current MLB roster so even if they sent us a player currently on their MLB roster it'd be a player with a lower ceiling than the guys we traded. There aren't many trades of MLB player for MLB player of equal talents. I'm sure there's some, but the vast majority are MLB player for lesser MLB player plus lesser prospect or MLB talent for prospect with chance to replicate current MLB player results.

    The 4 guys listed in the article are not likely to bring back high end prospects. Berrios, Buxton, and Rogers could all fetch a decent to very good prospect haul depending on a number of factors. There wouldn't be much reason to package any of these players together as the 4 in the article wouldn't significantly increase the capital in return for the 3 "big name" targets, or boost the return to include an MLB player worthy of trading any of those 3. At this point, if they decide to trade those 3, the strategy would likely be to trade FA to be veterans for whatever lottery ticket prospects you can while using these 3 to try to get high end, close to MLB ready prospects. But nobody is trading a legit MLB player for any of those 3. It would defeat the purpose of bringing one of those players in as their team wouldn't improve.

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    7 hours ago, AceWrigley said:

    So is Gordon getting reps at SS out of the question these days?

    I've wondered this as well. Even if Polanco is a marginally better SS than Gordon, I'd rather have Gordon play SS for the rest of the season and keep Polanco as the primary 2B. 

    Polanco has been the 2nd worst regular SS on defense in MLB from 2018 to 2020, besting only Gleyber Torres. There is no reason to move him back. We know what he is and it's ugly.

    Gordon might even be worse, but we really don't know. I'd sure like to find out rather than put Polanco back there.

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    4 hours ago, Mark G said:

    We have to decide right now if we are going to sign long term Berrios, Buxton, Rogers, and even Duffy.  They all become free agents after next year. 

    Exactly. The expiring contracts in this article may bring a AA or A prospect, and that’s worth looking at. Think back to the 2018 Pressly deal (Celestino, Alcala) or 2019 Dozier deal (Smelzer). 
    But it’s these ticking contracts that could bring an MLB-ready return. Twins just can’t afford to allow Berríos, Buxton, etc to leave after 2022 as FA, for no return. Get those extensions agreed to, or grit the teeth and move these players. 

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    2 hours ago, Dman said:

    I get what you are saying but in practice those types of trades don't happen very often mainly because when teams are trading away established players with few years of control left they are looking for prospects close to MLB ready mot MLB players as they can gain 6 years of control of a player for less money.  They are betting said player (prospect) will make it and hopefully in a few years time. Teams that get supplemental picks generally do this because payroll is limited and they need to maximize value.  They can't easily do that by taking back a MLB player unless they are on a contract that is priced low.

    Trading good established players for a lessor established MLB player and a lessor prospect doesn't really help much and actually is more likely to set a team back than move them forward.  That is why most teams trade established players for the best prospects they can.  There are exceptions of course but in general that is what happens.

    The Twins appear to be at a point where the players they believed in collectively haven't been good enough to take on the top teams.  They have too many pitching holes to cover in free agency and not enough good arms on the farm to cover enough holes in the rotation and or pen.  They need to maximize the value of the established players they have and trade for players that have greater future value if they want to move forward.  Hopefully they come up with a group that gels in the next couple of years that can move their talent closer to the elite teams.  If not then they have to start over again.  The teams at the top are not mediocre they have close to star talent at most all positions.  The Twins have to match that if they want to win the division and a playoff game.  I don't think they can do that with your proposed strategy.

     

    I guess I am showing my age, but I remember a time when that was pretty much all teams did; if I had a need in one area, and a surplus in another area, I would look for a team that needed what I have and have what I need.  If all I wanted to do was dump salary and wait for my farm to produce, I would sell contracts, not acquire more farm players.  If you could build a winning club by acquiring other teams draft choices and combining them with your own, who would give up theirs?  You trusted your scouts and draft team and filled holes through trades  I have always been a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of guy; looking back, I just don't see where it was broken, so I still feel it is the best way to go.  But you are probably right, no one else does it that way anymore.  

    And I guess I am old enough to be very tired of always being the seller in July, then filling holes by buying 2nd tier free agents in the off season (the obvious exception being Cruz) and hope they regain their form for us.  

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    1 minute ago, Mark G said:

    I guess I am showing my age, but I remember a time when that was pretty much all teams did; if I had a need in one area, and a surplus in another area, I would look for a team that needed what I have and have what I need.  If all I wanted to do was dump salary and wait for my farm to produce, I would sell contracts, not acquire more farm players.  If you could build a winning club by acquiring other teams draft choices and combining them with your own, who would give up theirs?  You trusted your scouts and draft team and filled holes through trades  I have always been a "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" kind of guy; looking back, I just don't see where it was broken, so I still feel it is the best way to go.  But you are probably right, no one else does it that way anymore.  

    And I guess I am old enough to be very tired of always being the seller in July, then filling holes by buying 2nd tier free agents in the off season (the obvious exception being Cruz) and hope they regain their form for us.  

    I think those types of trades are more likely to happen in the off-season than at the deadline.  We don't see quite as many of them as we used to as it hard to match up with years of service and the value both teams want.  I think with analytics it makes those MLB vet to MLB vet trades harder to do.  I like what you are thinking though.  I would consider the type of trade you are talking about for Donaldson.  If we had to take on the other teams 3rd baseman and add some money depending on the player, contract and years left I could see the Twins doing something like that. 

    You are correct that the trend right now is to seek out high end prospects.  Prospects that look like they will make it at the MLB level and be above average there.  Those trades are full of risk because if the prospect(s) bust you just got nothing for a very good MLB player but that seems to be the way the game is played right now.

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