MLB’s Largest Markets Stand Between Twins and Top Starter Upgrades

Photo: Daniel Shirey - Getty Images

THIS JUST IN: The Minnesota Twins need pitching help.

Ok, ok… so maybe we’ve known this for years. Hell, “High Quality Pitchers” has been written in permanent marker underneath the “Needs” section of the Twins’ front office whiteboard for at least a decade. And yet, here we are again.

There’s no doubt, this deadline, that Minnesota is a buyer. The Twins lead the AL Central by 4 games and neither the White Sox nor Guardians want to fully buy in. So, it’s the Twins’ division to lose. Buying big would make sense and pulling off a blockbuster would be, rightfully, lauded from all corners.

But there’s a problem. Pitchers in this trade market, according to The Athletic, are expected to be more expensive than those of years past. Why? Because available quality pitchers are few and buyers in need of quality pitchers are plentiful. Especially big market buyers with a lot less to lose than the Twins.

Twins Bidding for Best Arms Available

There are two starting pitchers available at this year’s deadline, who sit at the top of the target list for buying teams. At 29 y/o, Luis Castillo (Reds) is a high-90’s throwing righty with a plus slider and devastating changeup. He started the season hurt but has gotten better and better since the season’s gone on, now repping a 2.92 ERA, 1.099 WHIP and 158 ERA+.

Frankie Montas (A’s) has been on the Minnesota Twins’ radar for years but they and Oakland have never gotten that close to striking a deal. Also 29 y/o, Montas is having a career year, posting a 3.26 ERA, 1.086 WHIP and 113 ERA+, in 96.2 innings (2nd most of career). But that was before Montas left his last start after 1 IP (July 3) due to shoulder inflammation.

His MRI came back negative, but Frankie hasn’t pitched since, and he’s currently listed as “day-to-day”. Paying Oakland a premium for Frankie Montas would probably be the riskiest trade this franchise has ever made.

Large Market Competition

But injury issues or not, both pitchers listed above are in their 20’s (barely) and have one year remaining of team control. Their cost is going to be steep and, outside of Minnesota, the bidders will be the biggest in baseball. The Athletic names Minnesota as a suitor for both Castillo and Montas. But they also list the Dodgers, Yankees, Mets, Red Sox, Padres, Cardinals and Blue Jays.

The Twins will pursue both Luis Castillo and Montas before the deadline, but to what extent remains to be seen. They have to engage. In the past, the front office discussed the need to add front-end starters when possible. But how far are they willing to go, eh?With a lack of available starting pitching out there, the prices will likely exceed anything the Twins want to pay. Free agency aside (Carlos Correa and Josh Donaldson), they’ve never “gone for it” under Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, and it’s hard to see the Twins paying sky-high prices unless they knew they could lock up the pitcher to a long-term deal they find reasonable. — Dan Hayes (The Athletic)

Buy Now or Forever Live in Regret

Remember, this is the Minnesota Twins’ only season with perennial MVP candidate in his prime, Carlos Correa, on roster. And let’s be realistic, the Twins are unlikely to get another one-year winning window like what has been gifted to them this season by Correa and his agent, Scott Boras.

If Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and the Pohlad family are ever going to fix the back end of the Twins’ bullpen and front end of their starting rotation, this would be the time, right?

Roster is Begging for a Trade

The roster is primed for a trade, too. Rocco Baldelli has too many bats to fit into his lineup. The Twins have so many MLB-ready hitters that they’re having to stash them in St. Paul.

Even Miguel Sano is on his way back after knee surgery. His rehab assignment is soon to be elevated out of Single-A. Falvine will have to add Sano to the roster, or lose him, sometime in the next two weeks.

Meanwhile, the Minnesota Twins’ pitching staff is falling apart and getting exposed on a near-nightly basis. Not only do they need bullpen help, but nobody will take them serious as a World Series contender if they can’t add a playoff ace to their staff before the trade deadline bell rings on August 2.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan