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  • What's the Appeal? What's the Deal? Exploring Trades for Starting Pitching Help


    Jamie Cameron

    Recently, Twins fandom has become locked in on the Marlins as a trade partner in pursuit of starting pitching help. Who are other possible partners? Who might the Twins target to bolster the top of the rotation? 

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    With Carlos Correa in the fold, the discourse of Twins fandom has turned to possible rotation upgrades. There has been rumored interest in Pablo López and the Marlins as a possible trade partner. Fair enough. López, however, doesn’t really check the cost-benefit box for the Twins. Coming off a career-best season, he accumulated 2.8 fWAR in 2022. A free agent in 2025, he doesn’t clear the Sonny Gray (2.4 fWAR in 2022) echelon of starting pitching candidates with enough conviction. Pass, especially if it would take a package including Max Kepler or Luis Arraez and more to acquire him. 

    I would assert the following guidelines in working toward a trade for starting pitching:

    1. They have to be clearly better than Sonny Gray (3.5-4.5 fWAR ideally), OR
    2. There has to be some projectability left. Edward Cabrera is a good example of the latter qualifier (25 K%, 24 years old, and not a free agent until 2029)

    With those criteria in mind, here are a few ‘less talked about’ starting pitching trade candidates for the Twins to pursue. For each, I’ll attempt to answer ‘what’s the appeal’? and ‘what’s the deal’? I leveraged ‘Baseball Trade Values’ to find approximate value equivalency for each trade. As with any hypothetical trade scenario, they’re meant to outline potential cost, as opposed to specific names teams might target, because, what do I know? 

    Zac Gallen
    What’s the Appeal?
    The Diamondbacks would maximize Gallen’s value by trading him now. In 2022, he accumulated 4.3 fWAR (14th in baseball) from 180 innings after accumulating 4.4 fWAR in his previous 270ish innings spread over three seasons. Gallen was misery for hitters last season, sporting a 26.9 K%, 6.6 BB%, and 111.7 stuff+. Gallen is under team control for three more seasons, so the cost would be breathtaking. The Diamondbacks aren’t in a position to win a loaded NL West division and have some of the most elite prospect talent in baseball. Trading with the Twins allows them to continue to load up for 2024 and beyond.

    What’s the Deal?
    The Twins acquire RHP Zac Gallen from the Diamondbacks for SS Brooks Lee, OF Emmanuel Rodriguez, and RHP David Festa

    Verdict?
    Too rich for me.

    Nestor Cortes
    What’s the Appeal?
    Cortes was one of the feel-good stories in baseball in 2022. After a promising 2021, he exploded last season, amassing 3.6 fWAR with a 26.6 K% and a stingy 6.2 BB%. Cortes isn’t a free agent until 2026, so he would be expensive, but the Yankees and Twins are a good match to trade. The Yankees have Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Frankie Montas, Domingo Germán, and Luis Severino in the rotation mix, with more options close to the major-league level. Cortes might strike the balance between adding real quality to the rotation, at a price the Twins can stomach.

    What’s the Deal?
    The Twins acquire LHP Nestor Cortes from the Yankees for OF Max Kepler, OF Matt Wallner, and RHP Josh Winder

    Verdict?
    I would accept this trade. The Twins have a huge dearth of left-handed corner outfielders. This trade gives the Yankees a defensively strong starting outfielder, an additional outfielder for the future who can also fill in at DH, and a powerful arm who hasn’t yet clicked in Minnesota.

    Brandon Woodruff
    What’s the Appeal?
    Simply put, a dominant track record. Over the last four seasons, Woodruff has averaged 3.4 fWAR. While Woodruff isn’t a free agent until 2025, we know that the Brewers are not opposed to cashing in on or maximizing value. In 2022, Woodruff struck out over 30% of batters faced while maintaining a 6.8 BB%. At his best, he’s dominant and would immediately be the Twins best starting pitcher.

    What’s the Deal?
    The Twins acquire RHP Brandon Woodruff for 3B José Miranda, and RHP Bailey Ober

    Verdict?
    This deal is more a reflection of cost than a possibility. We all know Assistant General Manager Carlos Correa would immediately veto a trade of José Miranda. This situation simply bumped Ober, (who has struggled to remain healthy) from the bottom of the Twins' rotation and substituted Woodruff at the top. This also sees Brooks Lee as the Twins' long-term third baseman, debuting in 2023, with Miranda as more of a first base or DH option.

    Honorable Mentions
    I put the topic of pitching trade candidates on twitter and, as usual, Twins Daily readership came through in style. Other candidates that I didn’t include in-depth either as they had been recently written about, OR the trade fit wasn’t as obvious. They are, however, worth mentioning: Tyler Glasnow, Dustin May, Tony Gonsolin, Logan Gilbert, Chris Sale, and Frankie Montas. The list goes on. It’s worth widening the lens when considering Twins trade targets. Thinking back to the Rangers/Yankees double trade last season, it feels likely they pursue a similarly creative path to upgrade the high-end talent on the roster.

    Ultimately, I’m in favor of the 3.5 fWAR threshold for starting pitching acquisitions. Given the prices, I think the Twins are unlikely to be, as it would involve parting with a close-to-the-majors prospect they see as part of their core, or MLB-level pieces they view as indispensable. Time will tell.

    Who would you like the Twins to trade for? Who are you willing to part with and who is off limits? Join the discussion and leave your thoughts in the chat.

     

     

     

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    Jamie, hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think the Twins would have to kick in more players on these trades.  You have us slotted to under pay in all of these trades.  Remember, we're probably bidding against a lot more teams on these trades and would need throw in another solid player to get the other team to trade with us.  I would think we have the most leverage with the Yankees and Marlins.  The Yankees would be happy to have any of our outfielders and the Marlins would love to take a package of our young offensive prospects.  

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    5 hours ago, TwinsGM said:

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    Jamie, hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think the Twins would have to kick in more players on these trades.  You have us slotted to under pay in all of these trades.  Remember, we're probably bidding against a lot more teams on these trades and would need throw in another solid player to get the other team to trade with us.  I would think we have the most leverage with the Yankees and Marlins.  The Yankees would be happy to have any of our outfielders and the Marlins would love to take a package of our young offensive prospects.  

    Both Yankees and Marlins could use a CF like Kepler.  The drop off in what is available at that position is huge after him.  That is where Kepler’s value lies.  

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    Emmanuel Rodriguez is untouchable. Period. There isn't any pitcher available that would shake that tree.

    It is unlikely that the Twins trade either Brooks Lee or Royce Lewis. 

    The Yankees are not trading Cortes and it is unlikely that either Gallen or Woodruff are available. 

    The focus of trades and numerous posts have been repetitively about the Marlins pitchers because Miami has expressed that all of their pitchers except for Sandy Alcantara and Eury Perez can be acquired if the return to Miami consists of the right collection of bats. Pablo Lopez is considered more highly by national baseball writers and evaluators than any of the Twins starters. I favor Edward Cabrera or Jesus Luzardo over Lopez due to cost, years of control, and upside.

    I would rather see the Twins go into 2023 with the pitching they currently have than to see trades of prospects or signings of washed up arms. I really want to see a trade for Cabrera, which might be nuts, but am fine to watch all of Ober, Winder, Varland, and Woods Richardson get an opportunity if the young Marlin cannot be acquired.

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    Great ideas Jamie !  The Cortes trade with the Yanks is too low with value for the Yanks.  The rule of thumb in acquiring young, controllable pitching is that you must overpay to some degree to win the bid.  If you add Festa to the Woodruff trade you would be at 52.5 to Woodruff's value of 51.2.  And I would make this trade.  Woodruff gives you a horse at the top of your rotation and you pay to keep him around.  He's the kind of guy you want to hand the ball for game #1 of a playoff game.  It pushes everyone else down a rung as well, deepening the staff.  I like Gallon.  But I'm just NOT parting with Lee or Lewis.  I want to build around them and Correa & Buxton.  

    Tony&Rodney has been pushing for the twins to acquire Edward Cabrera from the Marlins.  Even with this Woodruff trade I would still consider engaging with the Marlins for another pitcher.  Cabrera's BTV is 14.8 (contrast that with Lopez at 38.7).  Lopez is 26 and controllable for 2023 & 2024.  Cabrera is 24 years old and controllable thru 2029.  I'd gamble on the control and possible upside of Cabrera.  I've already parted with Miranda, Ober and Festa.  Farmer and a others will cover 3B until lee or Lewis show they're ready.  I could trade Larnach 14.6 straight up for Cabrera or throw in someone like Cavaco or Sabato to sweeten the deal. 

    Starting Rotation:  Woodruff, Gray, Ryan, Mahle, Cabrera.  Maeda starts in long relief and as he builds up has a chance to crack the rotation.  Paddock is also out there lurking somewhere.  To cap off a tremendously successful off season I sign Andrew Chafin for the BP to deepen it even more.  I'm looking for a return to form for Lopez and a contribution from Alcala.

    Lineup: 1. Arraez DH  2.Kirilloff 1B  3.Buxton CF  4.Polanco 2B  5.Correa SS  6.Gallo LF  7.Vazquez C  8.Kepler RF  9.Farmer/Gordon/Jullien 3B.

    I don't know what my payroll is, but with the signing of Correa the Twins are in "win now" mode.

    I Love that rotation.  I like that BP.  I'd like a little better lineup but Lewis and Lee will probably both be up sometime in 2023.  

     

     

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    I wouldn’t do a trade until something goes wrong in spring training or towards the trade deadline when it’s obvious that we need a #1 SP to go deep into the playoffs. SWR has a great chance to become a #2/3 this year.  We may not need anyone if Mahle is lights out and Paddock comes back strong. 

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    IMO our rotation for 2023 is fine so I wouldn't be willing to trade anything outside of a crowded corner OF. I'd be hesitant to trade any of our top prospects before we have a chance to understand their true value.

    The Twins were about average for scoring runs/game (4.30, league average 4.28) & a little above average in runs allowed/game (4.22, league average 4.28). We need to improve our offense every bit as much as our pitching. With this in mind subtracting from our offense to add a pitcher who is about the same as what we have doesn't make sense. Trading for an ace is for the most part unrealistic. I can't see Gallen, Cortes or Woodruff (maybe Woodruff, but doubt it)being available for trade. Even if any of them were available the cost would be substantial.

    The Twins need to trade from their strength which is LH corner OF's like Kepler, Larnach or Kiriloff. Adding Miranda (no way would I trade Miranda) or even Arraez subtracts from our offense so what's point. We need to find a trade where one of our corner OF bats matches up with something that improves us in '23 whether it be a bat or an arm. The other option would be a trade for a SP to help beyond '23 as we have multiple SP's about to hit the FA market.   

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    Sorry about the double posting of my first comments,  Not sure how that happened.  Maybe the simplest trade to make was proposed by Doc Gast, a frequent poster here, on the Baseball Trade Values site:  A one for one swap of Max Kepler 7.6 in value for Frankie Montas 8.1 in value.  Montas will miss the first 3-4 weeks of the season due to some lingering shoulder issues, but is expected to be fine going forward.  With Kirilloff, Larnach, Gallo and Wallner, Max is probably getting traded.  I'd be all in on a deal straight up for Montas.  Montas would probably become our #1.  He's got great stuff.  The Yankees are reported to be willing to deal him and they have interest in Max Kepler.  A trade like this leaves Miranda's bat in the middle of the Twins lineup and doesn't move any other assets.  It also opens up opportunity for Larnach and Wallner as I commented as TonyO.  Montas, once healthy, is a pitcher that can throw 6-7 innings per start and be very effective doing it.  

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    No way to the Gallen trade if it includes three top prospects. Lee and Rodriguez should be off limits in any trade and the FO already traded players of Festa’s upside last year to acquire injured starters Mahle and Paddock. But I would strongly consider the Woodruff or Cortes trade for those players, especially Cortes, since the Twins have a surplus of lefty hitting outfielders. Miranda would be difficult to include, but his field position isn’t clear yet. 

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    22 hours ago, TwinsGM said:

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    Jamie, hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think the Twins would have to kick in more players on these trades.  You have us slotted to under pay in all of these trades.  Remember, we're probably bidding against a lot more teams on these trades and would need throw in another solid player to get the other team to trade with us.  I would think we have the most leverage with the Yankees and Marlins.  The Yankees would be happy to have any of our outfielders and the Marlins would love to take a package of our young offensive prospects.  

    The one thing to remember about the trade value machine you like to use is that it is subjective to the person putting in the data, but does not look at how the team values the player.  For example, the trade value has Rodriguez at 14.2, and Miranda at 26.4.  Personally, I think long term Rodriguez will be a much better player than Miranda, but Miranda is MLB level and Rodriguez is A ball right now.  If a team has high expectations of Rodriguez they will not care about the value in the this machine.  When it comes to prospects, it is hard to determine how much value a team puts on them. I know you can look at national rankings, but that does not mean a whole lot if a team themselves values them base on their opinions. 

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    If you don't go big you might as well go home. Or in other words, if you aren't getting an Ace who would slot above Gray or Mahle then just go with what you got. The problem with going big is that it is also going to cost you big and there is no way I trade Lewis, Lee, Rodriguez, Arraez, Miranda or Larnach and Kirilloff at this point. It's kind of sad when you feel that some of the prospects and young hitters that haven't proven themselves yet are more important to keep than the veterans who are playing. I wouldn't miss Kepler, Gallo or Buxton who only plays part-time anyway. Like Sano, I think he is over-rated over-hyped and could easily be replaced by someone who can play a full season and actually be available if they reach the playoffs. 

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    On 1/16/2023 at 7:10 AM, LewFordLives said:

    I was puzzled when the Marlins traded Gallen for Chisholm, and upset the Twins weren't in the conversation. He was a perfect fit for the Twins and they had the prospect capital to do it without it being too painful. Maybe the Marlins were targeting Chisholm.

    The only comparable prospect the Twins had to Chisholm was Royce Lewis, and after only 7 MLB starts, trading Lewis for Gallen would have been crazy.

    Now, trading for Gallen would probably be crazy because if the Twins trade for another guy with a damaged UCL, they'd get eaten alive.

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    1 hour ago, TopGunn#22 said:

    Sorry about the double posting of my first comments,  Not sure how that happened.  Maybe the simplest trade to make was proposed by Doc Gast, a frequent poster here, on the Baseball Trade Values site:  A one for one swap of Max Kepler 7.6 in value for Frankie Montas 8.1 in value.  Montas will miss the first 3-4 weeks of the season due to some lingering shoulder issues, but is expected to be fine going forward.  With Kirilloff, Larnach, Gallo and Wallner, Max is probably getting traded.  I'd be all in on a deal straight up for Montas.  Montas would probably become our #1.  He's got great stuff.  The Yankees are reported to be willing to deal him and they have interest in Max Kepler.  A trade like this leaves Miranda's bat in the middle of the Twins lineup and doesn't move any other assets.  It also opens up opportunity for Larnach and Wallner as I commented as TonyO.  Montas, once healthy, is a pitcher that can throw 6-7 innings per start and be very effective doing it.  

    Frankie Montas is only a good pitcher when the Twins visit Oakland. He ranges from average to terrible everywhere else. Lou Travino was the best pitcher the Yankees got in that deal.

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    Nestor Cortes? Nestor Costes isn't going anywhere As long as he's pitching anywhere near the level he did last season, he's virtually untouchable. Montas, sure. But he's too often injured, like now again, and was awful last year when he was healthy. Why pick up more mediocrity? When German pitches regularly, he is very consistent and excellent. He could be available only 'if' Montas is healthy. Yanks aren't one to trade good pitching unless they get a LOT in return. Kepler ain't a lot. More mediocrity. 

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    2 hours ago, nicksaviking said:

    Frankie Montas is only a good pitcher when the Twins visit Oakland. He ranges from average to terrible everywhere else. Lou Travino was the best pitcher the Yankees got in that deal.

    If the Yanks have any 'interest' in Kepler, it'll only be if the LF situation doesn't work out in the first couple of months of the season. I think Hicks will bounce back...can't be worse, plus the Yanks have Cabrera. They'd only pickup Kepler out of sheer desperation.  Montas #1? C'mon now, get real. He's inconsistent and can't stay healthy. Pegged to be the #5 starter this year, which tells you what they think of him. 

     

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    On 1/15/2023 at 11:08 AM, Cory Engelhardt said:

    Love this! Great ideas! What would you think of Mitch Keller from Pittsburgh? Young, controllable, was really good for most of last season. I’ll hang up and listen :)

    I like Keller OK. I don't know that he's much of an addition though. Not great K%, two years of control. I think there's better options (including Lopez) in that range of ability and years of control. Thanks for reading Cory, great to hear from you. Hope the fam is well.

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    On 1/15/2023 at 11:21 AM, TwinsGM said:

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    Jamie, hate to be the bearer of bad news but I think the Twins would have to kick in more players on these trades.  You have us slotted to under pay in all of these trades.  Remember, we're probably bidding against a lot more teams on these trades and would need throw in another solid player to get the other team to trade with us.  I would think we have the most leverage with the Yankees and Marlins.  The Yankees would be happy to have any of our outfielders and the Marlins would love to take a package of our young offensive prospects.  

    100% slight underpays. As I mentioned prior to the suggestions, more of a value proposition. To your point (about bidding against others), even more evidence I think that the Twins are not about to pony up for a trade like this. Thanks for reading!

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    6 hours ago, MarcF said:

    Nestor Cortes? Nestor Costes isn't going anywhere As long as he's pitching anywhere near the level he did last season, he's virtually untouchable. Montas, sure. But he's too often injured, like now again, and was awful last year when he was healthy. Why pick up more mediocrity? When German pitches regularly, he is very consistent and excellent. He could be available only 'if' Montas is healthy. Yanks aren't one to trade good pitching unless they get a LOT in return. Kepler ain't a lot. More mediocrity. 

    100 percent, I agree, especially as he's so well cost control. More trying to allude to Twins desire to be creative in acquiring help. Seems a trend likely to continue in pursuit of pitching.

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    Here is what Dustin May might cost.  Pretty steep price, in my view.

    More palatable, to me, would be German Marquez:

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    Marquez fits the definition of “3.5 WAR”…but hasn’t reached that level since 2018.  Not sure if 2022 showed a decline in performance or just a bad year, but I’d be interested in seeing how he fares outside of Colorado. He’s under contract through 2023 with a 2024 option.

    Edit to add:  Marquez, unsurprisingly, has pretty marked home/road splits.  

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    Note 790 OPS at home, 699 OPS on the road; 1.40 WHIP at home, 1.18 WHIP at home.  Not listed but HR/9 is 1.32 at home and 1.15 on the road.

    Get him out of Coors, see how he does!

    Plus, maybe Max thrives in Coors like Cuddyer and Morneau before him - I don’t think anyone around here would begrudge him success.

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    That's a good trade possibility "Moderation."  Whether it would be Kepler for Marquez straight up or Kepler for Montas straight up BOTH trades work for the Twins because we subtract one LH hitting OF'er and add a RH pitcher capable of throwing 150-180 innings with a decent amount of effectiveness.  We have to come up with at least one and hopefully two pitchers who can hit that kind of innings pitched so we don't over stress the BP.  Ryan can do it.  Maybe Mahle or Gray.  But Marquez or Montas would certainly help.

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    I’m looking thought Rockies listings on MLB Trade Rumors, it seems clear that one thing the Rockies are looking for is a LH hitting OF, preferably a center fielder, so trading from the Twins’ [redundancy of? plethora of? stable of?] left handed outfielders to the Rockies makes even more sense.  To top it off, the Rox appear stretched financially, so trading Marquez’ more expensive contract for Kepler’s cheaper one works too.

    The Rockies aren’t necessarily in “win now” mode, so maybe a deal would work even better with a pitching prospect or two thrown in for a current reliever?  I doubt Daniel Bard would come back, but how about adding in Tyler Kinley (reunion!) for Festa and Headrick?

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