Twins

#AskBW (6/26): Trade Targets, Spin Rates and Fixing All-Star Game Voting

Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not good at introductions for these kinds of things, so let’s just make it easy.

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There were quite a few questions on trade stuff with the deadline just a month or so away, but I’ll try to answer them individually with as little overlap as possible.

  • Giants reliever Will Smith – To me, the bidding will be fast and furious for Smith, and likely require a prospect somewhere in the 6-10 range from the Twins, plus a lottery ticket of San Francisco’s choosing.
  • Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman – With another year of control in 2020, Stroman will likely fetch a reasonable haul. I could see something like one of Trevor Larnach, Jordan Balazovic or Wander Javier along with Luis Arraez and perhaps a lottery ticket on the back end like Luis Rijo or Griffin Jax.
  • Tigers reliever Shane Greene – I think you could convince the Tigers to give him up for a decent prospect like Nick Gordon, Jose Miranda or someone in that range.

He was scheduled to hit for a second straight day on Wednesday, and from there the team would determine if he’d need a rehab assignment — perhaps a game or two. It sounds like he’s progressing nicely, but is still a few days away.

I think it’s a few things. First, I think the increased performance from their young players has been a big part of it — especially Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Byron Buxton and to some extent, Eddie Rosario — but I also think surrounding those guys with capable veterans to take some of the pressure off them has helped.

It was kind of a perfect storm for the Twins the last two years in that respect, as a frigid winter market meant some really solid players fell into their laps over that time frame.

I also think increased versatility has been big for the Twins, and nobody typifies that more than Marwin Gonzalez. Pretty much every good team over the past few years — including Gonzalez’s Astros and the Los Angeles Dodgers — have featured a lineup of about 10-12 players, most of whom could be played at more than one position as the manager saw fit or as matchups or injuries dictated.

Finally, they’ve taken a significant step forward in pitching development and have taken some interesting, yet productive chances in trades (Jake Odorizzi) and free agency (Michael Pineda, Martin Perez) while getting the most out of Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson. I just think the organization has done a complete 180 when it comes to pitching over the last two or three years, and a lot of credit has to go to Derek Falvey and Thad Levine.

I think he still has value, though it might be more to the Twins than any other team. Now that the Twins have developed him to the Triple-A level — or the cusp of the big leagues — I think he has a lot of value to them as a future utility guy at the very least.

He’s hitting a respectable .271/.310/.426 with the Red Wings, which doesn’t seem great but is a far cry from what he did last year (.212/.262/.283). It’s also easy to forget that this is just his age-23 season, so he still has some time to find his footing at Rochester and make his way to the big leagues.

Do I think he’ll ever be a full-time starter on a division-winning team? Not necessarily, but I think he’ll definitely have a role on a big-league club.

Honestly, I don’t have a good answer. I think we got further from fixing it with this year’s first and second round, though. Having Polanco beat out some of the big-market guys, only to have to do it again versus Gleyber Torres and Xander Bogaerts seems like a tall task.

Tommy Pham had an interesting idea, though I’m not totally sure I’m on board with it. He told Dan Slaubaugh of DRays Bay the following:

I don’t think WAR is the perfect statistic to use here — though it might be the best of a shaky lot — but I think there are always going to be flaws if we put the power of election fully in the hands of fans or players/managers. Fans have inherent biases, and the professionals are too busy playing to know who else is having a great season at every single position.

I wish I had a better answer.

I asked in-house expert Trevor May about this, so hopefully his answer will suffice:

I mean I think Altuve is probably the 95th percentile outcome for Arraez — or maybe Arraez with power — but it’s fun to dream, right?

Altuve was MVP in 2017 when he hit .346/.410/.547 with 207 hits and 24 home runs. I’m not sure I see Arraez getting close on any of those numbers individually, though I think he could maybe hit .320 or possibly collect 200 hits as a full-time player in his best year. He can really, really hit.

I don’t hate it like most might think I would, but I also think it’d require the Twins going back to a four-man bench — and I’m not sure I envision that.

As things stand now, the perfect bench for a fully healthy Twins team is probably what….whoever isn’t catching, Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez? If the Twins added a fourth piece to the bench, would they rather have Billy Hamilton, Arraez, Willians Astudillo or Jake Cave?

I’m not sure of the answer. What I like about Hamilton is that his speed is such a weapon, and he could be used as a quasi-Terrance Gore-level pawn late in games to pinch-run for guys like Nelson Cruz in tight games. He’s also a capable defender in center and a luxury in a corner with his speed — though that might not be all that important if Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario stay healthy.

I like it, but I don’t think I see it.

So I’m going to treat this like a power ranking, and this is completely off the top of my head with regard to what I think are the best fits for the Twins (subject to change over the next five weeks).

  • 5. Mychal Givens – Baltimore
  • 4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco
  • 3. Shane Greene – Detroit
  • 2. Marcus Stroman – Toronto
  • 1. Will Smith – San Francisco

Picking No. 5 was especially difficult, as I also considered Ian Kennedy (Kansas City) as well as Trevor Gott and Sam Dyson (both San Francisco). Ultimately, I think I’d buy low on Givens based on his career numbers and getting him out of a tough situation in Baltimore, and I also didn’t consider someone like Felipe Vazquez, who has been terrific for the Pirates (1.91 ERA, 13.9 K/9) but has so many years of control (through 2023, possibly) that he’d cost more than I can see the Twins front office giving up.

That just isn’t their style.

I think the Tigers would for sure, but with Cleveland, it might come down to if they feel their window is closed. A lot can happen in the next five weeks — like Cleveland closing the gap between it and the Twins — but if Minnesota leads by 10 games at the deadline, the Indians might part out their roster and start moving guys like Brad Hand and Trevor Bauer.

To me, choosing not to trade within the division — even with good players like that — would be foolish. Not only should a team take the best deal offered, but trades like that would be signaling a complete rebuild, and it wouldn’t matter if the players listed stayed in the division for the next couple years in that case.

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From Dan Fox: Out of the twins recent minor league signings, who will make the biggest impact on the MLB roster?

I think the only real candidate here is Cody Allen, who was signed to a minor-league deal over the weekend. His best chance is some sort of tweak or alteration to his delivery to hopefully unlock something he was previously missing — velocity- or stuff-wise — because he was really, really bad with the Angels this season: 6.26 ERA, 8.36 FIP and 1.91 WHIP in 23.0 innings.

From Colin Nelson: Will a Twin or multiple Twins make the HR Derby? #AskBW

For as much love as the Twins have gotten for all the homers they’ve hit, I don’t think so. There just isn’t really any buzz around anyone on this team making it, and I think it’s been more of a team effort to hit all these home runs as opposed to one batter truly standing out.

From Ben Klinger: Will the Twins trade for a pitcher before the deadline?

Almost certainly. I don’t see how they couldn’t. Now, will it be an established closer or someone Twins fans know as a household name? That I’m less sure of. For instance, Givens isn’t exactly a household name and as of this writing has a 5.23 ERA, but he’s been a reliable bullpen arm for the last four years for some really good Orioles teams (3.34 career ERA, more than a strikeout per inning).

If the price on him is reasonable, he’s a terrific buy-low proposition who could pitch some very big innings down the stretch for the Twins.

From Joe Nelson: How many times would Miguel Sano swing and miss during the Home Run Derby?

You’re a savage for this one, Tiny Joe.

From George Murphy: How in the world does Eddie Rosario hit with that batting stance???

Exceptional hand-eye coordination. He truly is a marvel, and I can scarcely believe when he makes great contact against a lefty because he looks so unconventional up there.

But he really, truly is gifted in the batter’s box.

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