The Minnesota Twins need pitching heading into Tuesday’s trade deadline, and everyone knows it.
Fans have refreshed their Twitter feeds over the weekend, looking for signs that the Twins are close to a deal. MLB Network’s Mark Feinsand reported that Minnesota is one of the most aggressive teams on the market, but it doesn’t mean anything until there’s a new face in the rotation or the bullpen.
The Twins should be going for it. But if they decide otherwise, the worst thing they could do is do nothing at all.
Let’s be clear. The Twins should be doing everything they can to upgrade this team. They signed Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez is having a career year, and Byron Buxton is healthy enough to make an impact. They’re in first place in their division. If not now, then when?
We can also nitpick about the quality of the American League Central, but the winner still gets into the postseason. A playoff berth will allow the Twins to end the longest playoff losing streak in the history of North American sports. But they won’t do that unless they bring in reinforcements.
There are two problems here. First, the Twins are short on assets to make a blockbuster trade happen.
The Seattle Mariners did the Twins a disservice over the weekend when they acquired Luis Castillo from the Cincinnati Reds in exchange for four prospects. But these weren’t any prospects; they were three of their five best prospects.
Noelvi Marte is ranked 17th on MLB.com’s top prospect list, and Edwin Arroyo is an 18-year-old who will soon be on that list. Levi Stoudt was the fifth-ranked prospect in the Mariners organization. And Andrew Moore is a solid arm to provide depth to give the Reds the desired haul.
When you look at the Twins organization, it’s hard to see how they could come up with a similar package. Matt Wallner and Spencer Steer are having tremendous seasons, but the farm system has taken a step back overall.
Royce Lewis is the only prospect on MLB.com’s top 100 prospects list, and he’s recovering from his second ACL tear in 15 months. Austin Martin was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 MLB Draft, but he’s hitting .249/.378/.313 with one home run at Double-A Wichita.
Jordan Balazovic has a 10.80 ERA with Triple-A St. Paul, while Matt Canterino and Simeon Woods Richardson are both dealing with injuries. Emmanuel Rodriguez tore his meniscus, and former first-round picks Keoni Cavaco and Aaron Sabato aren’t hitting enough to get much in return.
Compare this to the New York Yankees, who have five top-100 prospects in their system, including the No. 7 prospect Anthony Volpe. The Cleveland Guardians are in an even better position with eight top 100 prospects to throw into a deal.
Put it all together, and the Twins might not have the assets necessary to make a deal for Frankie Montas or even Tyler Mahle. So which move will put them over the top?
The Twins could make a deal for Miami’s Pablo Lopez, but they would likely need to give up Jose Miranda or Alex Kirilloff to make that trade happen. They could also look at Jose Quintana, Noah Syndergaard, or Nathan Eovaldi, but none of those pitchers will elevate them to become legitimate contenders in the American League.
The front office could look at this and just declare it a bad year for the organization. They could stand pat at the deadline, hope everyone rebounds next year and move ahead with the status quo. But this could put them in the same position next season. If they’re serious about the future, their best move might be to become last-minute sellers.
That doesn’t mean a complete teardown like we’re in MLB The Show, but it’s acquiring assets to set yourself up for the big move. Dealing a superstar like Correa could net a haul for the Twins, which could give them more ammunition if they’re contenders next season.
Then again, there’s no guarantee that this will work out. The Twins thought they had retooled their farm system by acquiring Martin and Woods Richardson in the José Berríos trade, but both prospects have fallen out of the top 100 only one year later.
Still, there’s enough promise that they could become assets next offseason if they perform well. The Twins drafted Chase Petty in the first round of the 2021 draft and traded him to the Reds for Sonny Gray nine months later. They could have dangled Martin or Woods Richardson for an even bigger arm had they moved during the offseason, but a deal never materialized.
That brings us back to Minnesota’s current dilemma. While selling would be highly unpopular with the fan base, it at least signals a direction. The same would be true if the Twins finally made a big trade to get that ace. It’s why the Correa signing was so exciting in the first place — it signaled the Twins were going for it.
But the Twins don’t achieve anything if they just cross their fingers and hope for the best. They need to do something.