Twins Don’t Appear Ready or Willing to Hit Reset Button with Trade Deadline Blockbuster

Photo: Brace Hemmelgarn – Minnesota Twins – Getty Images

The 2021 Minnesota Twins season is over and we haven’t reached the All-Star break yet. Let’s be real, it was over months ago. With a record of 35-50, and with the trade deadline looming (July 30), the Twins are obvious sellers. But how open for business are they?

Expiring contracts on losing teams are as good as liquidated at the MLB trade deadline and that’ll certainly be the case for the Twins too.

Good as Gone

There are five expiring contracts currently on this Twins roster and all of them already feel as good as traded, even if it’s for an extra bag of BP balls. If you bought one of these jerseys before the season, you’re an idiot sell or trade it in now.

  • Andrelton Simmons
  • Michael Pineda
  • J.A. Happ
  • Hansel Robles

The fifth guy expiring contract destined to be dealt before the deadline is Nelson Cruz. Even at 41 years old, Cruz is by far the best expiring contract player the Twins have to wave in front of playoff teams who feel they’re one elite bat away from a World Series run.

But, as mentioned, he’s “up there” in age and can’t play the field. That means Cruz’ suitors are narrowed to American League playoff team who need an immediate upgrade at that specific position. Most of the trade steam connected to Boomstick, so far, has come out of Tampa Bay, Oakland and Toronto. Hopefully, competing teams will bid his price up a little bit but I’m not expecting anything major in return for a half-season Cruz rental.

Blow it up… or not?

At the end of the day, Minnesota Twins fans are expecting departures from all five of the players we’ve already touched on in this blog. But the trade deadline conversation gets a bit more complicated when you’re finished with the expiring contracts.

Does the Twins front office believe they’re legitimate contenders in the AL Central for next season? If so, trading non-expiring contracts, that could return a nice boatload of prospects, could end those 2022 dreams. But if contending next season feels at all out of reach, then trading the guys below would maximize their value to a degree you might never see post deadline and give you an early start on your rebuild.

  • Taylor Rogers (1.5 years left)
  • Tyler Duffey (1.5 years left)
  • Josh Donaldson (2.5 years left w/team option for 3.5)
  • Jose Berrios (1.5 years left)
  • Byron Buxton (1.5 years left)

All of the players listed above, minus Josh Donaldson, would bring back very nice trade packages for the Twins. They’re all under team control for at least 1.5 more seasons and all would be productive members of any playoff team. But any trade of Taylor Rogers, Jose Berrios or Byron Buxton would definitely signal a complete rebuild and an admission that 2022 won’t be “our time”.

Tweeners

Josh Donaldson and/or Tyler Duffey being traded away wouldn’t signal the same type of “blow it all up” rebuild that the other three would. It was reported recently that the Twins don’t want a promising prospect(s) in return for Donaldson. They want a team willing to eat the majority of Josh’s remaining $50-ish million in salary over the next 2.5 years. They want as much of their money back as they can collect in an exchange policy.

If they can’t find it, hanging onto Donaldson seems like the better option. Duffey, while a nice complimentary piece to a good bullpen, wouldn’t make or break any future Twins roster but, with a full season left on his contract, he could still be a valuable trade asset.

Other Wildcards

Max Kepler is one guy to keep an eye on. He has two years left on an affordable contract, with a team option for a third. The Twins could have their future corner outfielders in Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach, making Kepler expendable for the right trade offer. If the front office can get the right deal for Kepler or attach him to sweeten a deal they really want to get done, the option is there.

Guys like Jorge Polanco and Luis Arraez could be in this same boat. Don’t ask about Miguel Sano because he isn’t tradeable right now.

(Probably) Keeping the gang together

All whispers around town point to the Minnesota Twins front office doubling down on what they’ve built to this point. Reporters with ears to the ground just don’t see a world where Falvine unloads the likes of Jose Berrios and/or Byron Buxton before the deadline. I’d be surprised to see Rogers dealt, at this point.

Scoggins (Star Tribune): “Odds are, Twins management will convince themselves that this season is more fluke than fact, and that next season will yield different results with largely the same core personnel, which is a risky assumption.”

Wolfson (SKOR North): “I don’t think they’re completely blowing this thing up. I just don’t. He certainly talked about, this being my words not [Falvey’s], but this being a blip on the radar. That he feels they can rebound in a pretty significant way in 2022, that the idea is not to strip this thing down. [Falvey] did allude to [not stripping this thing down] big time on the Scoop Podcast a couple weeks ago.

Yes, there will be changes and we could see guys like Donaldson and Duffey go. But, if you’re hoping for a complete tear-it-down, build-it-back-up strategy, you’ll probably be disappointed. We’ll see if that’s the track they take and whether it ends successfully.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan