The Twins Can Build A Solid Two-Tiered Trade Package

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

At the risk of setting unreasonable expectations, I see a near future where the Minnesota Twins are in pole position to make a splash at the July 31 trade deadline. If the season keeps progressing as it has (an admittedly massive ‘if’), the Twins will be a handful of games above .500, in a playoff spot, and trailing the Cleveland Guardians for the division lead come late July.

If that situation comes to fruition in the next six weeks, the Twins will have shown that they are a legitimate contending team that belongs in the race. Yet, they still need a boost of NOS if they want to make a push past their divisional foe and the other playoff-bound contenders.

What makes the Twins a potential name to watch when it comes to landing a boost at the deadline is their exciting crop of prospects, six of whom have recently been mentioned in national Top-100 rankings. A splash will almost certainly have to include one or more of those blue-chip youngsters, and probably more. Here are some options that Minnesota has in stock when it comes to building a suitable trade package.

Top Prospects

As mentioned, the Twins have a handful of prospects who have recently gotten love on the stage. There are the three atop the list that have been mentioned as consensus Top-50 prospects for two years running now, two more that have been mentioned multiple times as back-end Top-100 players, and a pitcher that is currently being lifted by as much helium as anyone in the minors this year.

The first three are probably untouchable for the time being. They include uber-prospects Walker Jenkins (No. 7 on MLB Pipeline’s Top-100 list), Brooks Lee (No. 14), and Emmanuel Rodriguez (No. 31). These three are going to be foundational members of the franchise in the coming years. Therefore, a swap that includes them at the deadline seems fairly unlikely.

But the next tier of intriguing minor leaguers could still net a solid return. Gabriel Gonzalez (No. 83) was the centerpiece in the Jorge Polanco deal over the offseason and had a great start to his 2024 campaign before going on the injured list a couple of weeks ago. He boasts a .771 OPS at High-A and is still just a 20-year-old waiting for another growth spurt to develop more pop in his contact-heavy bat.

David Festa (No. 100) has some of the most electric pitches in the upper minors but tends to lose command from game to game. He currently finds himself atop the Saints rotation at Triple-A, where he has a 3.56 ERA across 12 starts. He boasts a fantastic 34.8% strikeout rate, but he also finds himself saddled with a 12% walk rate. Regardless, expect Festa to be MLB-ready in short order.

Zebby Matthews is the last name on this list of top Twins prospects. He finds himself in the “just missed” category of the national Top-100 ranking but could reasonably make his debut on the list by the end of the season. He’s had one of the best seasons for a minor league pitcher this year, with a 1.38 ERA across nine starts between High-A and Double-A. His velocity has reached the upper 90s, and he has only walked two batters all year.

Matthews just turned 24, and his prospect stock will skyrocket if he maintains this performance at Double-A.

Post-Hype Young Players

It’s unlikely that any of these players get involved as a centerpiece of any trades at the deadline, but the Twins have a group of MLB-ready players that can be complementary pieces in a bigger deal. Former top prospects such as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have shown flashes of success in the majors, as has infielder Jose Miranda. They probably wouldn’t fetch much on their own in a deal, but they could be a good throw-in for the acquiring team as someone with upside who may just need a change of scenery to really break through.

Larnach and Miranda are riding considerable hot streaks for the Twins this year. However, they just demoted Kirilloff to Triple-A after going ice-cold for the last five weeks. It makes their trade viability difficult to gauge.

Then there are guys like Austin Martin and Matt Wallner, who represent a lower-floor profile but could still serve as trade bait if needed. The Twins just called Martin up to take Kirilloff’s roster spot. While they demoted Wallner in April, he has torched Triple-A pitching in the last three weeks and could find himself back on the MLB roster in short order. Both seem like solid secondary pieces in any potential deal.

Of course, there are plenty of outside factors to question if the Twins should make a splash at the deadline, including about six more weeks of the regular season before now and then. But at least for the moment, it appears that they have the two tiers of pieces necessary to make a deal if they choose to explore that route.

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