As we approach August 1, we will preview what each team is projected to do in advance of the non-waiver trade deadline. For a complete listing of our previews, click here.
Minnesota Twins: 27-55, 5th in the AL Central
Despite expectations being high for the Twins after a surprise run last season, the club has been baseball’s biggest disappointment and currently ranks last in the majors with an overall record of 27-55. Underperformance in virtually every area of the roster has caused Minnesota to fall 23 games behind the AL Central-leading Indians before the All-Star break, setting up a miserable summer in the Twin Cities.
Though manager Paul Molitor and general manager Terry Ryan do not appear to be on the hot seat at the moment, roster changes could come soon. The Twins’ major pitching additions over the last few winters (Ervin Santana and Ricky Nolasco) have been mostly failures, causing instability in a pitching staff that currently ranks 28th in baseball with a 5.07 ERA.
The team’s key position players have not performed up to expectation either, causing a debate among many over who the team’s All-Star representative will be. The leader in the clubhouse for that spot appears to be Eduardo Nunez, who has hit .315 with 11 home runs while serving as the team’s starting shortstop.
With failure across the board this year, the Twins may be ready for a major organizational overhaul. That overhaul will likely begin this month.
What moves have they made so far?
Despite early selling by clubs like the Padres (James Shields and Fernando Rodney) and Braves (Kelly Johnson and Bud Norris), the Twins have held onto all of their significant pieces and have only made two small trades to this point.
Minnesota sent J.R. Graham to the Yankees and Oswaldo Arcia to the Rays before July 1 after designating each for assignment. Arcia’s departure was met with mild criticism from some fans who claimed the club gave up on him too early.
Are they buyers or sellers?
A 27-55 team isn’t going to be looking to add pieces for the stretch run. The Twins are obvious sellers, and will join Atlanta, San Diego, Cincinnati and Oakland in dealing veterans this summer.
The problem for the Twins is the relative lack of value on their roster, as they have no great rotation chips to dangle in the weak starting pitching market. Santana and Nolasco will draw interest from clubs looking for veteran innings-eaters, but both righties are owed significant money in the future and are unlikely to bring back significant prospects.
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe seemed to be the team’s best trade chip before being placed on the 15-day disabled list Monday with a fractured rib. Minnesota appears unlikely to part with Brian Dozier, a team leader having a down year.
What moves could they make?
Santana appears to be the most likely Twin to be moved, as he is already drawing interest from the Rangers and other clubs looking for rotation help. Nolasco will likely draw looks as well, even with a 5.26 ERA in 17 starts.
With Plouffe sidelined, the Twins are unlikely to move him before the August 1 trade deadline, but could still strike a deal with a club that feels comfortable with his injury situation. Plouffe is controllable for next season as well, and was linked to the Mets before fracturing a rib. He is the third potential trade chip to go down due to injury for Minnesota, joining veterans Phil Hughes and Glen Perkins.
Nunez is an interesting trade candidate, as he is in the midst of a great year and is controllable for next season. Midseason pickup Robbie Grossman will likely be asked about as well, though the team will probably keep Joe Mauer.
Catcher Kurt Suzuki has put up a good year so far, and is likely to hit free agency after the season. Suzuki will return to Minnesota if he reaches 485 plate appearances this year, but his 194 PAs to this point makes that unlikely. Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy is the best available catcher this summer, but Suzuki could be another option for teams looking for an upgrade.
Minnesota has its fair share of solid relievers, including trade candidates Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler. All of the team’s relievers are under control past this season, so the Twins could opt to keep them.
The Twins will discuss almost everyone in talks before August 1, though it’s unclear if they’ll be able to receive significant value by dangling members of an underperforming roster. Santana and Nolasco are expensive and haven’t performed that well, but the weakness of this summer’s pitching market means they will likely get moved.
The loss of Plouffe stings at this time of year, especially with multiple teams (like the Mets and Giants) looking for third base help. Dozier and Mauer could go in surprise deals, and Suzuki does have some value.
Ryan has his work cut out for him, squeezing as much value as possible out of limited assets. Regardless, the Twins should do everything in their power to start a roster rebuild.