As we approach July 31, 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: 40-37, 2nd in the AL Central
The Twins are arguably the biggest surprise this season. After losing an MLB-high 103 games last year and finishing last in their division, Minnesota is more than halfway to their win total and is only 1 1⁄2 games behind the Indians — the defending American League champions — for first in the AL Central.
The expectation from around baseball is that the Twins are not going to stay in contention and they will fall off at some point because they are mostly a young team outside of Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier and ace Ervin Santana, who has rejuvenated his career at the age of 34. Plus, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine told Mark Feinsand of MLB.com that they do not want to sacrifice the team’s long-term plans for sustainable success for a few months this season, even though they appreciate being in contention.
With that said, the Twins have some decisions to make in the upcoming weeks, but they all hinge on where they stand by the end of July.
What moves have they made so far?
With their long-term plan in mind, the Twins have made only two small trades and signed veteran Dillon Gee to a minor-league deal. The first trade was acquiring Kevin Chapman and cash from the Braves for Danny Santana and the second trade was getting cash from the Dodgers for Jason Wheeler.
As far as the Gee signing, he was called up to the Twins on June 23, a week after electing for free agency after the Rangers designated him for assignment. But, he was sent back down to Triple-A Rochester four days later and is mainly a backup option in case someone in their rotation gets hurt.
Are they buyers or sellers?
In Feinsand’s report, Levine said the Twins “are contemplating buying” right now. Levine said they are “probably not going to be inclined to spend lavishly on short-term assets,” but are “very open to spending aggressively on assets that we could use to propel our team forward this year and for years to come.”
Because of their long-term vision for the club, Levine and Falvey will only add pieces that make sense for them and do not sacrifice any of their top prospects. The Twins have three prospects, Nick Gordon, Stephen Gonsalves and Alex Kirilloff, ranked in MLBPipeline.com's Top 100. Plus, they selected Royce Lewis with the No. 1 pick in this year’s MLB Draft, giving them possibly another big piece for their future.
Moreover, Levine said the club is not going to trade its “most established and productive players.” This means that the past rumors on Santana being available seem unlikely now. This year, Santana is 10-4 with a 2.80 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP in 106 innings pitched.
Who will they target?
The Twins will more than likely go after players, particularly pitchers, who still remain under team control.
Feinsand said that players such as Sonny Gray, Jose Quintana and David Robertson “are among those that fit that profile.” However, the Athletics and White Sox are also in rebuilding phases and will probably want big-time prospects in return, something the Twins are not willing to do. Feinsand also said the Twins “aren’t entirely opposed” to adding a player or two with an expiring contract.
They would ideally like to add more arms in the bullpen, even though they plan to activate Phil Hughes soon and have brought up relievers Alan Busenitz and Trevor Hildenberger. The Twins may use Hughes, who has had an an injury-filled year related to Thoracic outlet syndrome, to help lead the bullpen since he used to be a setup man for the Yankees during their run to a World Series title in 2009.
If they are to look for bullpen help, a reliever such as the Tigers’ Justin Wilson makes sense. The 29-year-old lefty is earning just $2.7 million this year and has another year of arb control remaining. They can also try to add either the Mets’ Addison Reed or the Phillies’ Pat Neshek, who are free agents after this season.
The Twins will likely keep everything status quo and not make a big move.
If anything, they will get a reliever that will be just enough to keep them in play for the division race, but can be a part in helping them build for the future. As for a Santana deal, they would have to receive a ton of promising talent and prospects before they even consider moving him.
After all, they are the small-market version of the Yankees, meaning that any sort of great success this year is nice but they are looking to have long sustainable success for years to come that they hope will result in them winning their fourth World Series championship and first since 1991.