Top 3 Starting Pitcher Expected to be a Minnesota Twins Priority at MLB Trade Deadline

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Thomas Shea-USA TODAY SportsCredit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Twins are currently gaining ground in the American League Central Division and find themselves firmly embedded into the MLB playoff picture via Wildcard spot. While the MN Twins have been consistently inconsistent to start the season, a pitching addition could help to bolster their chances.

Rocco Baldelli’s lineup has struggled to find its identity at times this spring and early summer, which is why they were slow to get out of the gate. But since Royce Lewis’ return, they’ve been firing on more cylinders.

With Cleveland still out ahead of them in the AL Central, and given how competitive the American League is expected to be come September and beyond, it only seems logical that the Twins would be buyers at the deadline, which is reportedly the expectation, even if some have their doubts (for good reason).

Local scribe calls for Minnesota Twins to add starting pitching

When the Minnesota Twins turned the page on their 2023 season, it seemed relatively likely that they would be without the services of both Sonny Gray and Kenta Maeda for this year.

Maeda, who has struggled to start the season in Detroit, is a proven veteran depth piece that can be plugged into any rotation or improve any bullpen, and those don’t come super cheap. As we all know now, the Pohlads went into cost-cutting mode last offseason.

Gray is an ace type pitcher — 76.1 IP, 2.95 ERA, 2.95 FIP, 95 SO w/STL this season — who was going to get paid ($25M/YR) and did, which why he is gone too. Neither Gray nor Maeda’s roles were filled successfully, and the Twins’ inconsistency in 2024 is a reflection of that.

Now, Dan Hayes (The Athletic) writes on how the Twins could really use a top-line starter before the trade deadline.

I like the potential for the starting rotation the Twins have assembled. Everybody in the group can put forth really good days. But there’s been too much inconsistency in the team’s first 72 games, and the Twins would greatly benefit from adding one more starter. It should be an arm that could pitch in the middle to the upper half of the rotation.

With the offense and the bullpen assembled, one more good starting pitcher could make a huge difference in how far the team goes this season. If the Twins can stay healthy — and that’s a big if — they have staying power.

Dan Hayes – The Athletic

Hayes goes on to write glowingly of Minnesota’s current lineup and its bullpen, and appears to throw a Minnesota passive aggressive shot across the bow toward the Twins’ ownership group noting that this team “is exactly the kind in which the front office and ownership should invest.”

Who could the Minnesota Twins get in a deadline trade?

Grabbing a starting pitcher that can compete through the first three turns of a postseason rotation doesn’t come cheap. A handful of different names are possible, and the range of return varies greatly as well.

Related: Charley Walters Pleads for Twins to Save Former Gopher Max Meyer from Marlins

Aging veteran Justin Verlander (Astros) could come back to the AL Central, and Garrett Crochet is already there (White Sox). Blue Jays veteran Chris Bassit may be on the move, and the Marlins’ Jesus Luzardo is one of the most likely players in the league to be traded by July 31.

Luzardo has struggled a bit this season but all four guys would slot in as a top-3 rotation piece in Minnesota, allowing Bailey Ober, Chris Paddack and Simeon Woods Richardson to slide back into more natural spots.

Obviously, SWR has plenty of minor league options remaining, but Paddack would seem like the more obvious choice as the odd man out, if someone had to be pushed out of the rotation to make room for a top starter, and the decision was made based on merit alone (at least right now).

Who would the Minnesota Twins have to trade away for a top-3 starter?

This Twins regime has traditionally liked to look at team control, and that only raises the bar. It stands to reason that Walker Jenkins is untouchable. Beyond him, no other prospect in the organization falls into that category.

Related: Sounds Like Homegrown Matt Wallner is on MN Twins Trade Block… and He’s Not Mad About It

Emmanuel Rodriguez is probably the closest and likely who the MN Twins would demand the most for, in return. Brooks Lee might be the first name being dangled to selling teams. Matt Wallner, Luke Keaschall and Marco Raya are the other three that would certainly grab other teams’ interest leading up to the MLB trade deadline.

Minnesota fans know all too well how the Tyler Mahle trade worked out, but it’s probably that sort of compensation package that gets what they seek. The goal would be to ensure a higher level of certainty that the arm can remain on the bump.

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