As we begin the dead period induced by the end of the current CBA, the rest of the AL Central continues to improve while the Twins stand pat. The Tigers and Javy Baez agreed on a six-year, $140 million contract Tuesday, frustratingly adding a premier shortstop to the division, in a position of need for the Twins.
In spite of the understandable pessimism with which Twins fandom has greeted the beginning of free agency, the Byron Buxton extension still provides a spark of optimism for me. I simply cannot see a team extending an MVP-caliber center fielder and not continuing to build around him.
Earlier this week, I looked at the Reds as an ideal trade candidate in the Twins search for playoff-caliber starting pitching. Today, we’ll turn our attention to the Oakland Athletics, who appear to be on the cusp of a rebuild after a disappointing 2021. The A's off-season got off to a disastrous start when manager Bob Melvin was coaxed to San Diego. Long-term stadium troubles and the exit of premier players like Mark Canha may make for a long winter in northern California. So who does Oakland have? Why should the Twins want them? And what might it take to acquire them?
If the Twins want to contend for the AL Central in 2022, Bassitt should be their number one target from Oakland. Despite his season being derailed by a facial fracture sustained in August, Bassitt had a memorable season. He amassed career-highs in fWAR (3.3), K/9 (9.1), and managed a 3.34 FIP over just 157 innings. The primary downside to Bassitt is he’s a free agent in 2023, so the Twins would only be acquiring one year of Bassitt, which would make him a little cheaper than other options.
Potential trade: Twins trade OF Trevor Larnach to Oakland for RHP Chris Bassitt
Montas really put it together last season with the A's. In 2021, he managed 4.1 fWAR, 9.96 K/9 and a 3.37 FIP while throwing a 97 mph heater and an exceptional slider. Montas is under contract until 2024, and at 28, has age on his side. Consequently, his price would be more expensive than other starting pitching options with two years of team control.
Manaea comprises the left-handed prong of Oaklands top three starting pitchers, and similarly to Montas and Bassitt, had his best season to date in 2021 (which Nash Walker recently covered). Manaea managed 3.3 fWAR, 9.7 K/9 and a 3.66 FIP over 179 innings of work. Manaea also has some injury history and less explosive stuff than Montas or Bassitt, his fastball sitting at around 91 mph. Manaea is a free agent in 2023 and unless the asking price is cheaper than my trade proposal, I wouldn’t pursue him strongly if I were the Twins as there are too many orange flags.
Potential trade: The Twins trade C Mitch Garver to Oakland for LHP Sean Manaea
What would you offer in a trade with Oakland? Which of their starting pitchers appeals to you the most?