The Twins waited until Tuesday, the trade deadline, to make their moves, but in the end, they added right-handed starter Tyler Mahle, right-handed relievers Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer, and a backup catcher option in Sandy Leon. It came at a price as the Twins dealt infielders Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, left-handed pitchers Cade Povich, Steve Hajjar and Juan Rojas, right-handed pitchers Yennier Cano, Sawyer Gipson Long and Juan Nunez.
Seth Stohs: As you know, I don’t like to see prospects traded, and yet, I fully understand that it is a necessary evil in order for the big-league club to add talent and fill holes. Before the deadline, the obvious question is: What do the Twins need to do? I would tell people that they need to add at least one starter, two reliable relievers, and another catching option. That’s exactly what the Twins front office did. Mahle now rejoins Sonny Gray at the top of the Twins rotation. Lopez should team with Jhoan Duran at the end of ball games. Fulmer should slot into 7th and 8th innings with Griffin Jax.
Back to the prospects, Spencer Steer has a chance to be a really good player, but with the Twins, he’s behind Jose Miranda and others. Same with Christian Encarnacion-Strand who has destroyed baseballs since entering pro ball in 2021. Steve Hajjar has had an up and down season, but he has a chance to be good if healthy. Cade Povich has a chance to be a mid-rotation starter, maybe even more. The Twins had to give up something in order to get something, but they did just that. The front office made the necessary moves. The question, in my mind, is if the Twins added enough to stay ahead of the White Sox in the AL Central. We shall see.
Jeremy Nygaard: For me, the long and the short of it is that you hope your prospects turn into productive players. Not that they’re great comparisons, but you hope you can develop Cade Povich into a player with Tyler Mahle’s ability. You hope that any of those other pitching prospects that were dealt if they fail as starters, turn into really good relievers like Jorge Lopez. And that’s exactly how the teams that dealt Mahle and Lopez feel too. They just acquired three or four chances. Nobody that the Twins dealt is sure things and like you mentioned, Seth, even Steer was going to have a hard time breaking into the lineup. It’s hard not to like the deals they made because they give the Twins a chance to go deeper this year, Mahle will be a big part of the rotation in ‘23 and Lopez helps the bullpen for the next two years. Plus they still have all their top prospects. Sure, Fulmer was a rental, but at a low cost. Now, if you want to talk about if Lopez has two more years being the dude he is now… well, that’s another story.
Melissa Berman: Tuesday represented the most active trade deadline day the Twins have had in years, maybe ever, and is a clear message from the front office: "We see ourselves as serious contenders, and we want to win now." While losing high-flying prospects like Steer and Encarnacion-Strand is unfortunate, it simultaneously is a vote of confidence for the Twins' young corps of Arraez, Miranda, Lewis, Kirilloff, and Larnach. When healthy, each player has produced at a high level, and it is outwardly apparent that the Twins see them in their long-term outlook. Consequently, there would not be a lot of places for these hitting prospects to go in the Twins organization. The Twins made good moves on Tuesday that provide them with much-needed help for the rest of the 2022 season and several more to come.
Contrast the multitude of Twins moves with the Chicago White Sox, who only added reliever Jake Diekman, and the Cleveland Guardians, who added pitcher Ian Hamilton. The lack of moves could mean one of two things: the teams think they can compete with what they currently have, or, conversely, they don't see themselves as serious division contenders this season. Rebuilding and major retooling of lineups are best done in the offseason with the free agent market at a team’s disposal. Time will tell if the AL Central, currently the most competitive division race in baseball, will stay a close three-horse race, and if the Twins’ moves will be enough to keep them on top.
Rena Wang: To echo Melissa, it was exciting as a fan to see the Twins so active at the trade deadline for the first time in years. We’ve become accustomed to disappointment and a lack of urgency to win (CC. the trade Correa crew), but we’ve known in the back of our minds all along that the Twins’ front office is ready to win with the moves that were made in the offseason.
It's always painful to lose prospects, especially Christian Encarnacion-Strand who was recently named the Minor League Hitter of the Month for the second time, but the definition of a prospect speaks for itself. I’m always an advocate of taking a risk for something tangible and certain. The Twins also exceeded expectations by trading for Jorge López, the best young closer in baseball. Although Michael Fulmer fits the profile of the average Twins’ trade target, he’s having a career season in the bullpen and would slot in perfectly with Griffin Jax and Tyler Duffey as a middle reliever. Tyler Mahle is the starter that the Twins desperately need with Bailey Ober headed to the 60-Day IL. All in all, if these trade targets continue to perform as advertised, the Twins have a real shot to compete for the first time in years.
Theo Tollefson: The Falvey and Levine regime had their best trade deadline to date Tuesday. They acquired the bare minimum of what many Twins fans had been asking for since mid-June with a reliable middle-of-the-rotation starter and two backend relievers.
Tyler Mahle was the best acquisition of them all. Mahle has had much better numbers on the road this year than he had at Great American Ballpark with the Red. Given that Target Field is more of a pitcher-friendly ballpark than GAB, Mahle should find himself more comfortable in his new home ballpark for the next year and a half with the Twins.
Jorge Lopez was a surprise acquisition but a welcomed one at that. Lopez has finally reached the potential he was given as a prospect with the Brewers over seven years ago. Although Rocco Baldelli has never officially designated someone as the closer in his five years as manager, people can expect Lopez to unofficially fill that role for the Twins and take a load off of Duran and the rest of the bullpen.
Michael Fulmer is just another good addition for a depleted Twins bullpen. He will certainly help in any role he is used for in relief.
The Twins did give up a good amount of prospects to acquire who they needed this deadline, but they did not sell their entire farm system as the Padres did to get what they needed. This sets the team up well to win the AL Central this season and retool themselves for next year as well.
Nash Walker: The Twins filled their biggest hole with a bang in Jorge López. They so badly needed a high-leverage right-handed reliever to pair with Jhoan Duran in the back of the bullpen. Other than Josh Hader, López was the best reliever dealt during the deadline. He’s also under team control through 2024, a significant wrinkle that sets up the Twins’ backend for the future.
Tyler Mahle was my No. 1 target for the Twins when combining every factor. He should thrive outside of Cincinnati and I love his stuff. He knows how to pitch and there’s room for upside. Mahle is a mid-rotation starter *right now,* but I think there’s a real chance he’s a frontline starter very soon. Could they have used another starter? No question. Mahle is a great addition either way.
After Mahle and López, I was hoping the Twins wouldn’t stop short. They then traded for Michael Fulmer, who I think is one of the more underrated relievers in baseball. Fulmer shuts down right-handed hitters and the Twins now boast a strength in the bullpen with Duran, López, Griffin Jax and Fulmer. It was a good finish to a good deadline. Let’s see how it plays out.
Matt Braun: This was exactly the trade deadline the Twins needed; each move perfectly covered a weakness and two of the deals netted players who will impact future Twins teams as well. It’s hard to complain about that. What excites me—beyond the added talent—is that the team found a way to trade uncertain or blocked prospects without losing the big names. Spencer Steer is a major loss, but he had no easy path to the Twins; Cade Povich is a serious blow—I thought that he had the potential to become a solid mid-rotation arm—but he’s the only player I’m truly worked up over.
Tyler Mahle is the dude. I’ve wanted Mahle on the team for years; I think his performance has another gear left and moving him away from a little league ballpark will neutralize his home run issue. I’m absolutely ecstatic that the Twins snagged him away from the Reds, and I might argue that he would be a theoretical game 1 starter (don’t worry, I knocked on wood after typing that). Jorge López is another great get. His stuff is mind-bending, he’s only 29, and the Twins will have him for two more years following this season. He and Jhoan Duran in the back-end may be the best—and nastiest—1-2 punch the team has had in a long time. Michael Fulmer is an acceptable get; he fills the 6th/7th inning role adequately—although his control worries me—and a middle relief piece deepens the bullpen. Gone are the days of Tyler Thornburg pitching in the 8th inning.
My only qualm is that Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer still constitute 40% of the starting rotation. That’s not a terrible problem—every team will tell you that they aren’t fully comfortable with their starting staff—but it’s still an area the team could have improved upon. Netting Carlos Rodón would have made this an award-winning deadline; instead, it’s a great one.
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