Jul 1, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Twins first baseman Justin Morneau (33) reacts after being called out by first base umpire Cory Blaser at first base in the first inning against the New York Yankees at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
The trade season is fully upon us. As fans, we are beginning to peek at other teams’ farm systems in an effort to see who might be available if the Twins decide to trade some of their big names like Justin Morneau, Glen Perkins and Josh Willingham. While this is an exciting exercise, it is one that doesn’t carry a lot of utility. We can try to determine fair value for specific prospects, but there are so many variables involved that it is never as easy as finding a deal that looks fair.
It also doesn’t make much sense to target specific players because we tend to overvalue our own players and undervalue players on other teams. “Texas needs a lefty in the bullpen and they have an extra shortstop, so we should trade Glen Perkins for Jurickson Profar.” Yeah, we should. Texas would turn that trade down before the Twins even offer it. They would preemptively and telepathically decline that trade. That trade is crazy. Stop proposing that trade.
However, there are specific types of players who the Twins should be targeting this July and August. These archetypes can help us better understand what types of players are most valuable to an organization and which types of players are underrepresented in the Twins farm system. I have a few archetypes that I would aim for.
Archetype #1 – Two-way catcher
Don’t immediately think of Joe Mauer. Joe Mauer is rare and special. However, the Twins would be wise to start looking for a young catcher who can hit and should have the tools to stay behind the plate. I’d look for someone under 21 and playing in A ball or lower. These players are cheaper because they have not developed into sure-fire prospects. It isn’t as exciting to acquire someone we have never heard of, but finding a guy who can catch and hit is not as easy as it seems. We’re spoiled here in Minnesota, but Joe Mauer won’t catch forever. Finding his long-term replacement would be a huge return, regardless of the name acquired.
Archetype #2 – Shortstop with offensive ability
Don’t immediately think of Troy Tulowitzki. Shortstops with his hitting ability are very rare. The Twins could look for a guy who can play shortstop at the MLB level while also hitting at a league-average rate. This type of player is extremely valuable because of his ability to play the most premier defensive position and still contribute on offense. I would again target a young player at a low level of the Minors. This type of player is hard to acquire, as teams are very hesitant to give up on shortstop prospects. However, if the Twins make Perkins available, he could be valuable enough for a team to give up a good shortstop prospect.
Archetype #3 – Raw starter with a big arm
Feel free to think of Alex Meyer, because he is the exact type of player who fits this archetype. Meyer was available because there were some questions about his command and his secondary stuff. However, if he develops to his potential, he will be a number one starter. If the Twins can target another young, hard-throwing starter with some question marks, they can mold that new pitcher into something that makes any trade look like a huge win.
Archetype #4 – Infielder who can hit
If the Twins can’t find a shortstop who can hit, a infielder who can hit would be a nice consolation. This type of player could be a current shortstop with questions about his ability to stay at the position. It could be a guy who might grow out of the position as he develops power. Who knows why the player can’t stick, but if he can stay in the infield, he can still have value. The Twins could target a more established player in this scenario, because their tumble down the defensive spectrum could be tarnishing their prospect luster. However, if the Twins act fast, they could grab a player like this and find a place where they can provide value. First basemen need not apply.
Archetype #5 – AA or AAA starter who can debut soon
The Twins need starting pitching and they need it fast. There are plenty of guys in AA and AAA who aren’t going to be number one or two starters, but could be serviceable number three to number five starters. These players aren’t as sexy, but all teams need five starters. How many good starters do the Twins have right now? If there are some 23- or 24-year-old starters with a back-of-the-rotation profile, the Twins could pounce and bolster their depth. Fans won’t like it, but it would help the team.
Archetype #6 – A post-prospect
Chris Davis. Chris Davis is either the AL MVP or the runner-up at this point. He was a big-time prospect with huge power but a giant hole in his swing. The Rangers gave him chances and he didn’t do much with them. The Orioles acquired him for a middle reliever (a very good one in Koji Uehara, but still) and then it still took Davis a couple years to flourish. Not all trades have to return top prospects. Sometimes, post-prospects can become the players everyone thought they would become. Sometimes, they don’t. However, a post-prospect is a great risk when trading a more marginal player like Mike Pelfrey or Ryan Doumit.
These are the types of players I would target. We could easily go through different organizations and attach names, but until we know who is buying, who is selling and who is available, it would be a crap-shoot at best. These types of players all have value and each type would improve the overall Twins Organization.
What type of player would you target when making a trade this season? Please share in the comments below.