Twins

The Twins Already Have the Blueprint For A Taylor Rogers Trade

Photo Credit: Jay Biggerstaff (USA TODAY Sports)

Despite their recent success, it’s unlikely the Minnesota Twins will bounce back and make the postseason this year. Therefore, the focus turns to how they can rebuild for another playoff run with the young prospects that are coming up, which has led to trade speculations on players throughout the roster, ranging from Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios all the way down to J.A. Happ and Matt Shoemaker.

But Taylor Rogers is one of the more intriguing tradable assets to keep an eye on.

Rogers is having a career year after a disappointing 2020. He’s recorded a 2.73 ERA with a .228 opponent batting average in 29-plus innings this season. He also owns a 30.3 percent walk-to-strikeout rate with a career-low FIP at a 2.18 clip and a WAR of 1.1. In a season where Minnesota’s bullpen has been its biggest weakness, Rogers has continued to be their most reliable reliever.

During a time when everyone is being assessed for their trade value, Rogers is certainly on the list of players who could bring back a meaningful haul of prospects from a contender in a trade. That doesn’t mean that the Twins have to trade Rogers. He’s still under team control through next season and has been the anchor of this bullpen for most of his career. But if they are fielding calls on players under team control, the Twins need to know where they stand with the lefty.

Even though Rogers is the best pitcher currently in the Twins bullpen, the front office of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine haven’t been afraid to pull the trigger if the right deal is there. The best example of this is the Ryan Pressly trade in 2018, one of Falvine’s best trades since taking over the front office.

The Twins were in a similar situation three years ago. They were in a down year following their Wild Card appearance a season before, and they were sellers at the trade deadline. They dealt Pressly, who was a good but not great arm at the time who looked like he could become a fixture in their bullpen, to the Houston Astros. Pressly had a 3.40 ERA, 69 strikeouts, and .250 opponent batting average in 47.2 innings pitched for the Twins in 2018. But he immediately became Houston’s best reliever following the trade, becoming an All-Star in 2019.

Rogers is in a similar situation that Pressly was three years ago. Pressly was 29 when he was traded; Rogers is 30. They are also similar pitchers, relying heavily on their fastball and sliders.

The Twins received two solid prospects, Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino, in the Pressly trade. Alcala was called up late in 2019 and is beginning to receive high-leverage innings this season. Celestino debuted on June 2 and will get extended time in the majors with Byron Buxton out. Neither player entered the Twins system as a top prospect, but both broke Minnesota’s top-30 list soon after entering the farm system.

Deals at the trade deadline rarely become the franchise-altering moves selling teams are hoping they become. There’s no way the Twins could get an organization’s top prospect for Rogers without bigger pieces involved. But they can use the Pressly trade as a framework for moving Rogers if they choose to do so. Rogers can net Minnesota two players who should become one of the best 30 prospects in their system.

Pressly wasn’t expected to be moved three years ago, but pundits and scouts looked at the two players the Twins were getting back and thought they got a solid haul. Alcala was a starter who threw in the upper-90s, and Celestino had the making of someone who could develop into a good big-league hitter after turning a corner in the minors. This is the kind of return Minnesota should be able to get for Rogers.

Lesser pitchers typically command a small value by being dealt for less-hyped prospects, players to be named later, or cash, but it should take substantially more to move Rogers. His trade value should be well established around baseball. While the 2020 trade deadline was a bit of an outlier given the shortened season, reliable relievers netted substantial value in 2019.

Two years ago, the Washington Nationals traded pitchers Taylor Guilbeau and Elvis Alvarado to the Seattle Mariners for 30-year-old lefty Roenis Elias, who had another year of control. Guilbeau was a top 15 prospect for Washington. Alvarado was a supplemental piece in the deal, but Seattle received value for a pitcher in Elias, who had a 4.40 ERA at the time — much higher than Rogers does now. This type of deal would be seen as good value for the Twins.

The best part about Rogers’ trade value is that any contending team can never have enough high-quality arms as they load up for a playoff run. That’s especially true if it’s someone like Rogers, a lefty closer with postseason experience. Any contending team would be calling the Twins about his availability.

Which teams are most likely to deal for Rogers? The San Francisco Giants have the 26th-ranked bullpen, need a go-to left-handed reliever, and already employ Rogers’ twin brother, Tyler Rogers. The Twins could also make a deal with the Toronto Blue Jays, a team with one of the league’s worst bullpens and plenty of prospects in their farm system who they can move.

It’s not certain that the Twins will move Rogers at the deadline. There’s a case to be made that he’s too valuable to let go to another organization. On the other hand, if they can land some great value and continue stockpiling their farm system. Losing Rogers to a contender would sting, but if Falvine can pull off a deal as they did in 2018, it could benefit Minnesota in the long run, even if it means that Rogers ends up pitching in a different uniform in August.

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