Are the Twins buyers or are they sellers ahead of the MLB non-waiver trade deadline?
Even the front office isn’t quite sure. On one hand, they’d like to be patient and let the next month of the season play out — remember last year’s post-deadline surge to the postseason?
On the other hand, they’ve seen the standings.
The Twins currently trail the Indians by 7 1/2 games in the American League Central. Cleveland recently ran a 7-game win streak, and indication of the ability that team has once it fixes its bullpen.
If you’re looking to the wild card standings for some solace as a Twins fan, you won’t find much comfort in that picture. Minnesota as of this writing is 11 1/2 games behind the Mariners for the second wild card spot, with 5 teams to pass to punch their postseason ticket.
The point is that the postseason odds are long with exactly 5 weeks to go before the deadline to make trades without waivers.
Twins GM Thad Levine is well aware of that tricky position. A team that entered the season with postseason expectations is now buried in the standings and is running out of runway to take off. Levine said in an interview with MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand recently that the Twins are “trying to figure out” the buyer/seller decision — and acknowledged that timing is the essence of the whole thing.
Here’s the money quote from that Feinsand story:
“We’re walking that line that we’re hopeful that once we get everyone back together, we’re going to take off,” Levine said. “The other side of that is, how much of that is wishful thinking? At what point in the season are you who you are, and you need to embrace that? A lot of things went our way last year, and maybe not as many are going our way this year.”
To recap: The Twins are without starting shortstop Jorge Polanco for a half-season; starting catcher Jason Castro’s 2018 season was basically a total loss; starting first baseman Joe Mauer missed 3 weeks with concussion problems, and it doesn’t look like he’s back to the pre-concussion on-base machine; Brian Dozier hasn’t caught fire yet; Miguel Sano is playing Single-A baseball; Byron Buxton had migraines and broke his toe and is working on swing improvements in Triple-A; last year’s opening day starter Ervin Santana hasn’t pitched in the big leagues and already had to call off a rehab assignment once this year.
Entering the year, we would have said these would be key players to the 2018 season in Minnesota.
Yes, the Twins that are left have not played well and in many ways the team deserves to be where it is in the standings. The flip side of that coin is that the Twins have had to rely on a lot of backups, and that hasn’t treated them well this season.
Levine also said in that MLB.com story that the Twins are mindful of the fact that baseball is full of sellers this season. So if you wait until the deadline, maybe there won’t be any buyers left with big-time needs to fill. Remember that point, because it could mean the deadline for a buy/sell decision might have to come sooner than the end of next month.
If you’re interested, read the whole Feinsand story here.