Who [Can/Should/Will] the Twins Look to Trade as They Enter Sell Mode?


The Minnesota Twins may have touched down in Baltimore earlier this week hoping to avoid “seller” status with the MLB trade deadline coming on July 31. But after losing 2 of 3 to the worst team in baseball, it’s now unavoidable. This is a team that has dug itself too big of a deficit in the AL Central to think a 2021 playoff run is viable.

Once you accept the Twins’ “seller” reality, it’s time to look forward. Prospective playoff teams around the league have to be infatuated with the Minnesota roster. I’d imagine there will be more MLB scouts sent to Twins’ games in the coming weeks than any other selling team on the market. This is a lineup laced with talent and it spreads through all budget levels, depending on how big of a splash prospective trade partners are looking to make.

Let’s take a look at what the Minnesota Twins have to offer prospective playoff teams. I’ve categorized the roster by based on how likely Falvine is to move each player.

Untouchable Category

To start this blog out, I wanted to list the players who this Twins front office shouldn’t even discuss moving during trade negotiations unless reality escapes the Anaheim front office and they put Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani on the market.

  • Alex Kirilloff (OF/1B)

You couldn’t pry Kirilloff from this organization with any realistic trade package. What he’s going to offer the Twins for the next 6 years while being paid a miniscule amount of his value, can’t be matched on the real world trade market.

Honestly, I thought there would be more untouchables on this roster when starting this blog. But when I sat down and started thinking about it, I realized there isn’t any. Sure there are some guys who are younger and are mostly safe from these trade talks (see Category 4) but that’s not because the Twins wouldn’t be willing to deal them for the right price. They just won’t get offered that “right price”.

Blockbuster Category

This group is meant for only the best of possible offers. Any serious negotiations will require the other organization’s best prospect, and maybe more, just to get conversation started.

  • Byron Buxton (CF)
  • Jose Berrios (SP)

Both Buxton and Berrios have been negotiating with the Twins for years on long-term deals that have never come close to fruition. Now, they have just one season (2022) remaining before they’re scheduled to become unrestricted free agents.

If Minnesota’s front office doesn’t see these two signing long-term deals before they hit the open market, the Twins should take the best trade offer they can find before the start of they next gather in Fort Myers for Spring Training. Both guys will lose a drastic amount of value if they start next season under final years of arbitration contracts.

If the Price is Right Category

Now we are getting to players I expect the Minnesota Twins to deeply consider moving on from, should they get the right offer before the trade deadline on July 31. These guys could easily be part of the Twins’ future but could be had for the right price too.

I imagine there will be A LOT of conversations between Derek Falvey and other GM’s surrounding these trade assets. Some of the players listed below have more value than others but their contract status, production and/or future projections should require a respectful haul in return, should someone pull the trigger.

  • Tyler Duffey (RP)
  • Taylor Rogers (RP)
  • Luis Arraez (2B)
  • Miguel Sano (1B/DH)
  • Jorge Polanco (2B/SS)
  • Max Kepler (OF)
  • Mitch Garver (C)
  • Kenta Maeda (SP)

This tier is probably the most interesting because the value varies widely. Taylor Rogers and Tyler Duffey could both be seen as key pieces for playoff bullpens around the league but Rogers will hold higher value right now. That wouldn’t have been the case down the stretch in 2020, however, when Taylor Rogers was the guy who couldn’t get anyone out. Does that make Falvine more or less likely to move Rogers? It depends on the offer.

How much do other teams value Miguel Sano’s ceiling as a power-hitting 1st baseman who projects as an eventual DH? Would that type of team value Max Kepler more? They both have similar career numbers but Kepler’s future projections feel more stable. Is that seen as a positive by all teams or do they prefer the boom or bust type that Sano represents?

Kenta Maeda is far from untouchable but the likelihood he is dealt depends on how much other teams value him. Who thinks 2020 Maeda is the real deal vs what we’ve seen so far in 2021? I’m not sure anyone will like him as much as the Twins do so I’d imagine he stays. His contract is favorable which makes him more desirable and, subsequently, adds to his value.

As Good as Gone Category

Ah, here are the players who Minnesota Twins fans can just wave goodbye to, right now. These are veteran guys who have expiring contracts that can be easily dealt. And playoff teams could see them as possible cheap rental options for a hopeful World Series run. They might not bring back that much value but they’ll require something in return (unless nobody wants them – DFA candidate), and that’s better than nothing.

  • J.A. Happ (SP)
  • Nelson Cruz (DH)
  • Andrelton Simmons (SS)
  • Michael Pineda (SP)
  • Hansel Robles (RP – DFA candidate)
  • Alex Colome (RP – DFA candidate)
  • Matt Shoemaker (SP – DFA candidate)

Nelson Cruz’ time in Minnesota was fun while it lasted and we will always have the good times to remember back on. But, Cruz is the perfect trade candidate for a team who needs to make a major edition to this season’s playoff run but doesn’t want to mortgage their future to do it. The Twins can ask that much for a 40+ year-old who’s playing on an expiring contract.

Juice Not Worth the Squeeze Category

Here are the players on the Minnesota Twins roster who are unlikely to be dealt because they’re either a) younger players with big upside who the Twins will value much more than “buyer” teams looking for an immediate boost to their 2021 World Series hopes or b) players with contracts that teams won’t want to take on or c) unique players who other teams won’t value like the Twins do.

Essentially, the Twins are going to value these players more than what “buyer” teams will.

  • Trevor Larnach (OF)
  • Jhoan Duran (SP – AAA)
  • Jorge Alcala (RP)
  • Willians Astudillo (Utility)
  • Nick Gordon (2B)
  • Gilberto Celestino (OF)
  • Randy Dobnak (SP)
  • Ryan Jeffers (C)
  • Josh Donaldson (3B)

a) If the Twins were buyers this trade deadline, a lot of these younger players would be seen as high-leverage trade assets. Guys like Jhoan Duran and Trevor Larnach would be perfect carrots if you’re a team trying to trade for a dominant starting pitcher to help a playoff push.

But with Minnesota as the sellers, the younger players listed above become important pieces to the Twins’ future puzzle. Guys like Trevor Larnach, Jhoan Duran, Jorge Alcala and even Nick Gordon are now much more valuable to what this front office will have to build for next year and beyond.

b) Josh Donaldson is listed because nobody’s going to pay the Twins anything worth what they might get out of him during the remaining two mandatory years of his contract. At a .238 batting average and .756 OPS, Donaldson is having one of the worst seasons in his career and that’s coming off of a rough, injury riddled 2020 season. Nobody’s taking on that $21 million per year unless the Twins are giving him away or taking a bunch of money back, which they aren’t going to do.

c) Nobody is going to give anything of value in a trade for Randy Dobnak or Willians Astudillo. Those guys aren’t going anywhere.

Eric Stack | Minnesota Sports Fan