The lineup is solid and an addition probably isn’t 100% necessary. The bullpen is probably in need of two solid arms at the very least. The question is whether the Twins see it necessary to add to the rotation. With arms shuffling in and out with injury and none of their top prospects in AAA looking like options as late-season additions, it’s possible the front office finds themselves searching for help. The Tyler Mahle’s and Luis Castillo’s of the world are fun to dream on, but the Twins have a type.
We’ve typically seen them target arms that need fixing as we saw with Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack. The prices are lower and despite injuries to both, they’ve shown that they can be trusted to fix talented arms that haven’t reached their full potential for whatever reason. There are a few such pitchers that could be available this summer.
Could this finally be the year? The Rockies could have gotten a haul for Marquez at one point if they had only accepted that their best-case scenario was fourth in their own division with no shot at a wild card. Present-day not much has changed in that regard and perhaps their tune has changed. Since the 2019 and 2020 seasons, Marquez’s performance has dropped off precipitously despite being just 27 and now the Rockies will likely have to accept a much more modest return in trade if they ship off their former ace.
Part of his issue is plain bad luck this season as Marquez has posted a 6.09 ERA with better peripherals despite pitching in Coors. His home runs have spiked and his strikeouts have dried up. With a year and a half of control left, the Twins could swoop in and save Marquez from the thin air of Colorado. His once-vaunted mid-90s fastball and disgusting slider are getting clubbed this season and just a few tweaks paired with a better park could revitalize Marquez. It’s unclear whether the Rockies intend to continue trying to contend, but the Twins have plenty to choose from at all levels of their system for a trade return.
“The Professor” as he’s known in Chicago has had a storied career on the North Side, helping the Cubs break their World Series drought in 2016 and serving as their ace for several years. The back end of the four-year deal Hendricks was given has not gone according to plan, as he’s posted middling numbers at best in 2021 and to begin 2022. The Cubs have a lot of question marks in their near future and they may finally be open to talking trade in regard to their 32-year-old soft tosser who has a year and a half left under contract.
Hendricks' average fastball has settled in around 87 mph at this point which sounds scary, but the right-hander has never averaged even 90 on the heater as he’s dominated lineups with command and poise. It’s certainly walking a tightrope with such little velocity, but Hendricks has done it before and nothing in his stuff screams that he can’t do it again. He’s recently changed to a changeup-heavy approach, his best pitch which has led to a few better outings lately. Perhaps the Twins have their own ideas to fix, but given Hendricks’ 4.95 ERA so far this season, the Twins would be paying far from the ace starting pitcher price.
Perhaps the riskiest target, Rogers has legitimate ace upside and has very recently shown it in the MLB. During the minor league shutdown, Rogers gained significant velocity on his fastball which has held ever since, contributing to his 2.64 ERA in 133 innings in 2021. So far this season, however, Rogers has been a completely different pitcher, posting 5.87 ERA and seeing his K rate drop from 28.5% to 18.7%. At 24 years old with four and a half years of control remaining, this could be the highest upside gamble the Twins could make.
Rogers’ decline is puzzling, as his plus-plus changeup has underperformed and the rest of his repertoire has followed suit. His release point has steadily dropped ever so slightly since his debut which could be one issue the Twins could look to clean up. The Twins and Marlins have long been discussed as a great trade fit, as the Twins need young pitching and the Marlins need some young MLB-ready bats to support their already fantastic rotation. Make no mistake, this would be a blockbuster, likely involving someone like Jose Miranda and several other painful pieces leaving Minnesota. Still, Rogers might be just a small tweak away from a return to form, an outcome that would likely make him the undisputed #1 pitcher in the Twins rotation. That’s a possibility that’s hard to ignore.
It’s possible this is the year the Twins go and get a ready-made ace. Personally, I’d hold off on such ideas until we actually see it. Instead, there are several pitchers that could be on the market that fit the Twins mold of acquiring talented arms in need of a tweak or two. Do you think any of these names are likelier than others? Do you have any names that aren’t on this list? Let us know below.