The Twins are in a tough spot in the standings. And it’s fair to wonder if the front office has been considering what it would take to make the team into contenders. If their extreme negative run differential makes you a little less confident that their .500 record would hold up, you might be tempted to play for the future.
And after losing 4 of 5, that’s exactly what national reports are saying right now.
According to multiple reports, the Twins are listening to offers on players. And it depends on the outlet and the reporter, but most of the notes linked to the Twins right now list guys like Ervin Santana, Brian Dozier, Brandon Kintzler and Jaime Garcia — yes, Garcia! — as players the Twins will field calls about.
I doubt that’s an exhaustive list. It’s just a collection of the known veterans on the team.
MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand says the Twins are taking calls on the starting pitchers, Santana and Garcia. While other teams may have some interest in Kintzler and Dozier.
Source: Twins are fielding calls on Ervin Santana and Jaime Garcia; also receiving interest in both Brandon Kintzler and Brian Dozier.
— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) July 27, 2017
Jon Heyman reports that the Twins are listening on some players. He lists that quartet of veterans as players who could draw interest.
Jon Morosi reported that the Twins would consider trading Santana and Garcia if the team’s “struggles continue.” That would seem to indicate a very short timeline in which to show competitiveness, with nothing but a 3-game series in Oakland standing between the Twins and the non-waiver trade deadline.
And Ken Rosenthal, as part of a long Twins post on his Facebook page, mentioned those four players as guys who could be moved. Rosenthal also noted that the Twins have prepared all along for two different paths — as buyers or as sellers. So they were prepared when the Garcia trade presented itself; and at the same time, I’d be very surprised if they weren’t prepared now, understanding the trade market for their own Major League players in the event they choose to sell.
Just a few days ago, I finished a column listing 5 rental pitchers that the Twins could consider, in the days after the Jaime Garcia trade (the first one) fell through. Before I could publish it, the Jaime Garcia trade (the second one) was completed, and I decided to delete the column because the Twins probably didn’t need another rental starter. Since early this week, the Twins have really fallen back in the race for the postseason. What’s amazing to me is that just a few days later, I can see the logic that says the Twins should be sellers. Give up on this season and play for next year.
In the coming days, I expect to have columns on the value players the Twins could consider dealine before the deadline hits Monday. For now, I’ll share a few quick thoughts based on these national reports.
Santana: I asked Ervin last week if he’s thinking about the deadline at all this year. At this time last year, his name was very much a part of the rumor mill. Typical Ervin, he played it cool and said that he’s not thinking about it, in part, he suggested, because the Twins have played their way into Buyer status as opposed to the clear Sellers they were last year.
Santana’s numbers are not as dazzling as they were in the early goings this season. He’s turned in some bad starts when he doesn’t have his best arsenal of pitches. He’s not an ace in a good rotation. Still, I believed all along that the league values him as a durable mid-rotation starter, and I think he’d be the No. 3 guy for a handful of World Series hopefuls. He’s an interesting trade chip, becaue he’s got another year and $13.5 million left on his deal, plus an option year in 2019 that automatically vests if he hits his innings mark. The Twins could use a guy like Santana in the rotation next year, and that has to be part of their math. But they also have some younger arms that might be ready to fill out the staff: J.O. Berrios, Adalberto Mejia, Trevor May, Fernando Romero and Stephen Gonsalves. They’ll need more depth that that, obviously. They also have guys like Kyle Gibson and Phil Hughes, who are a bit hard to peg down at present.
Anyway, I don’t think the Twins would be off their rocker to try to trade Santana in a market that’s notably thin on high-end pitchers for sale.
Kintzler: Good guy, great story. He’ll be a free agent this winter and I personally think he’s a good late-inning option. He’s got legitimately good stuff, and even if he doesn’t miss a lot of bats like the prototypical closer, he’ll get a ground ball when needed, and he’s been solid for the Twins for more than a year now. He’s probably not the closer on a team vying for the World Series, but he’s a valuable arm. We’ve seen plenty of trades for non-closers, so the Twins ought to know the market price for those kind of arms. And there are still a few contenders who haven’t made the big bullpen move. What could you get form one of them for two months of Kintzler’s services?
Dozier: The second baseman has one year and $9 million left on his contract. I’d wondered this winter if the Twins were considering an extension for Dozier and I was told that they were not. That was then. I do know, however, that they were listening to trade calls on Dozier, and the new leaders of the front office seemed to be fairly transparent all the way through those talks. Utlimately, what seemed like the most natural fit, the Dodgers, traded pitching prospect Jose De Leon to the Rays for a guy who’s kinf of like Dozier, Logan Forsythe.
If you deem that you’re out of it, I can see the logic of trading Dozier. Jorge Polanco has had a disappointing year offensively and defensively, and if he’s a big leaguer — which I still think he is — it’s a lot more likely as a second baseman than as a shortstop, in my opinion. What I don’t see, however, is a market for Dozier right now. He’s hitting a solid but unspectacular .249/.334/.441, and a year after smacking 42 home runs, he’s got 16 in his first 4 months this year. The problem with trading Dozier is not because of Dozier, though. The problem is that I don’t see many contenders lining up for a second baseman right now — even one with above-average hitting and defense. The Red Sox have Dustin Pedroia at second base and just called up their top third base prospect and traded for former Twin Eduardo Nunez; the Indians are set; the Astros have a guy play second base that might be the best player in baseball; the Yankees have Starlin Castro and just traded for third baseman Todd Frazier; the Rays have moved Tim Beckham to second base; the Mariners employ a future Hall of Famer at second; the Royals should be good, and that takes care of the American League. In the National League, I don’t see a team that’s in such desperate need of a second baseman that they’d give up some real quality future value for 1+ year of Dozier. I believe he could handle third base, but I don’t know if a contender would want to risk that change to a new position in-season, and I don’t know if there’s even a glaring need anywhere at third base anymore.
Maybe the Twins revisit a Dozier trade conversation this winter. Or maybe they keep him through his whole team-friendly contract. I personally just don’t see a natural fit that benefits the Twins right now.
Garcia: Man, that’d be interesting wouldn’t it? Trade for Garcia, let him make one start, then flip him around in a trade going the other way. In theory, the Twins could upgrade the caliber of prospect. They gave up Huascar Ynoa, and in return they got Garcia, paid the balance of his salary, and added a minor league catcher, per reports. (That allowed them to trade John Ryan Murphy to the D’backs for a minor league pitcher with great numbers.) If the Twins agreed to take on the rest of the salary, and then traded Garcia this weekend before the deadline, they should in theory be able to get something higher value than Ynoa in return. But theory and the actual market are often two different things, and it’s not clear how much the market viewed the catcher the Twins got back, so it’s hard to know how much that added value to the Garcia trade package in the first place.
I know for a fact that these aren’t the only four players that would have value on the trade market, but they’re the 4 players mentioned in national reports today. I’ll have more on the theory of the trade deadline and the Twins’ involvement throughout the weekend. You can follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or sign up for my e-newsletter.