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2018 MLB Trade Deadline: Are the Minnesota Twins going to be buyers or sellers?

The Twins have slim odds of making the playoffs, so the answer should be clear as to what they should do in the next few days.

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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: 46-53, 2nd in the AL Central

Yes, the Twins are in second place. However, for a team that had made the postseason last year, that place doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things right now.

The Twins have a losing record, are 7 12 games behind the Indians in the division and 13 12 games behind the Mariners for the second wild card spot. Their performance to date has put their playoff odds at a 0.6 percent chance, according to Fangraphs, which basically means they have virtually no shot at a second consecutive postseason berth.

Because of where they are in the standings, it only makes sense for Minnesota to be a seller at the deadline again after being one last year. They do have some trade bait, mainly veterans who are free agents at the end of the year.

However, the Twins’ front office hopes that the club can at least cut its deficit in the division a little bit over the next five to six days so they can possibly keep some players and hope for a Minnesota Miracle of their own to take place over the next two-plus months.

What moves have they made so far?

Minnesota made a few transactions during the offseason, mainly acquiring Jake Odorizzi from the Rays, signing starter Lance Lynn and signing relievers Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke, all in hopes of repeating their success from 2017.

With the exception of Rodney having a solid season as a closer (21 saves in 26 opportunities, 1.29 WHIP and 10.1 strikeouts per nine innings), the moves have not exactly panned out this season. Odorizzi has gone 4-6 with a 4.37 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 21 starts; Lynn has posted a 7-8 mark with a 5.23 ERA and a 1.66 in 19 starts; Reed is on the disabled list, but owned a 4.83 ERA and 1.44 WHIP in 41 innings pitched; and Duke has a 3.75 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 36 innings of work.

In addition, they traded expensive and struggling starter Phil Hughes to the Padres in May after they designated him for assignment. They also optioned 2017 All-Star Miguel Sano to Single-A Fort Myers because of how badly he struggled this year.

Who could they sell?

Though most of their players have been struggling, the Twins feel they have quality trade chips in Lynn, Odorizzi, Rodney, starter Kyle Gibson, and infielders Brian Dozier and Eduardo Escobar.

Dozier has been the most mentioned name among this group, as the free-agent-to-be has been linked to the Brewers, Red Sox and Dodgers. The 31-year-old power-hitting second baseman, who has 16 home runs and 50 RBI this year, may not be hitting over 40 home runs like he did in 2016 or driving in 90 runs like he did in 2016 and 2017, but he could bring some pop to any of these contenders for the next two to three months and the Twins may get a nice prospect or two for him.

Escobar has also gained some interest over the last few weeks, particularly with the Brewers and the Phillies. In one scenario that Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic heard, the Brew Crew have talked about acquiring both Dozier and Escobar. The 29-year-old, who is also free agent after this season, offers great versatility, as he can play third base, second base and shortstop. He is also having the best year of his career, slashing .275/.336/.511 with an MLB-leading 36 doubles, 14 homers and 60 RBI in 94 games, so the Twins should sell him while his value is at his highest.

Odorizzi and Gibson may be the most valuable assets the Twins have because they are controllable starters. They are both under contract through 2019. Though he is having a tough season, Odorizzi has been able to make at least 28 starts over the last four years and the 28-year-old has provided consistency on the mound during that time. As for Gibson, the 30-year-old is having his best season of his career despite sporting a 4-7 record, as he has a 3.57 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 8.9 K/9 ratio in 121 innings across 20 starts.

Lynn is a trade candidate because of his past history as a starter with the Cardinals (72-47 record, 3.38 ERA, 14.7 WAR) and he is a cheap rental. However, his struggles this season (7-8, 5.23 ERA, 1.66 WHIP in 19 starts) have certainly hurt his value.

Despite his age, Rodney has drawn interest from the Red Sox, according to Jerry Crasnick of ESPN. However, the Twins won’t get a huge return for their closer because of that fact and because he is a free agent after this season.

Predictions

The Twins will not be able to close the gap in the division race over the next week and will decide to deal Dozier and Escobar before the deadline.

The Twins will trade Dozier to the Brewers. The Brew Crew missed out on acquiring Manny Machado (finished as the runner-up to the Dodgers), so they want to shore up their situation at second base and add his pop to the lineup.

As for Escobar, he will go to the Phillies, who are looking for an alternative at shortstop after losing out on Machado as well. As Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reported, Escobar has been a target and would be a big benefit to their lineup offensively.

They will not be able to deal their other trade chips. However, they will try to move either Odorizzi or Gibson in the offseason in hopes of getting prospects that could help them in the near future.