The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Could the Baltimore Orioles be their trade partner this offseason?
Now that the Minnesota Twins have entered the offseason, they are looking to improve the roster through trades and through free agent signings. In this series, we look at how the Twins match up with teams in trade scenarios.
We will first cover the team’s 2017 and what they may be looking for this offseason and then look at whether the Twins could be a good fit for a possible trade this offseason. If there’s a fit, we’ll try to put together a feasible trade that would work for both sides. We have already covered the Arizona Diamondbacks and Atlanta Braves. Next up is the Baltimore Orioles.
The Orioles did not have the 2017 season they were hoping for. The team struggled to a 75-87 record. Good for last place in the AL East and above only the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers in the American League standings.
As you look up and down the Orioles lineup you would expect something good to happen with all the hitters they have. It all starts with Manny Machado, who even in a down year did pretty well for himself hitting .259/.310/.471 with 33 home runs. Machado continued to be solid defensively as he received recognition as a Gold Glove finalist before giving way to Evan Longoria as the eventual winner of the award.
Jonothan Schoop and Trey Mancini may have been the biggest bright spots for the Orioles this season. Schoop in his second season as a full-time player saw his average jump from .267 to .293 while hitting 32 home runs and driving in 105 runs. Mancini was also able to surprise as he hit for a .293 average and 24 home runs. Good enough to be included as a finalist for AL Rookie of the Year.
While the lineup was pretty solid for the Orioles, they simply couldn’t overcome the shortcomings of their pitching staff. The Orioles starters were led by Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy, which isn’t saying much as both had an ERA above four. The Orioles All-Star closer, Zach Britton, was hurt for a good portion of the season only being able to appear in 38 games.
The bullpen still performed fairly well in Britton’s absence with Brad Brach, Mychal Givens, and Richard Bleier all turning in solid seasons. The reality is with the starting performances the Orioles received in 2017, it didn’t matter who was there at the end of games because the game was often already out of reach.
Possible Trade Interest
Orioles may want: The hard thing for teams negotiating with the Orioles is the Orioles need to decide what direction they will go this offseason. With Machado, Brach, Britton, and Adam Jones all set to be free agents after 2018 as well as Schoop and Darren O’ Day after 2019, the Orioles need to decide is it time to go all-in or start the rebuild early.
First and foremost, the Orioles need better starting pitching, but secondarily they need to improve their outfield defense. Jones’ days in center may be over as he had a -12 defensive runs saved and -13.3 UZR while patrolling center field in 2017.
Twins may want: Machado would be nice, but the reality is that would be a hefty price tag. What the Twins could realistically go after are some of the bullpen arms the Orioles have. One of the power bat options of the Orioles may also be an option for the Twins.
As alluded to earlier, the hardest part of speculating on trade scenarios involving the Orioles is that we simply do not know what their plan is. Another difficulty is many of the Orioles assets are in their final or final 2 seasons of team control.
Britton is clearly the big fish in this pond of trade speculation. He is in his final season of arbitration eligibility and MLB Trade Rumors projects his salary for 2018 at $12.2 million. That is a fair salary to pay for what Britton can be, but after last season there is always an injury risk. Brach with his one year of team control remaining is projected to make $5.2 million.
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If the Twins call on either of those two relievers, the Orioles would probably want Eddie Rosario or Max Kepler if they are looking for an outfielder. If the Orioles were looking to fill their starting pitching void they would likely call on the Twins top two prospects in Stephen Gonsalves and Fernando Romero. Most certainly the Twins should ask for the Orioles to eat some salary if that is the asking price.
The Twins may rather try and use Felix Jorge, Kohl Stewart, Aaron Slegers, and Zack Granite as trade bait. That is why Richard Bleier may be a more realistic target for the Twins. Bleier will turn 31 in April and really just got going the past two seasons where he has put up some great numbers. Bleier held a 1.99 ERA and a 68.1% groundball rate (65% for his career) in 2017. That added to the fact he isn’t arbitration eligible until 2020, Bleier looks like a good target for the Twins.
Trade Proposal 1: Kohl Stewart or Felix Jorge for Richard Bleier
Trade Proposal 2: Fernando Romero, Felix Jorge, Travis Blankenhorn for Zach Britton
As mentioned above it would be nice to add one of the Orioles power bats to the DH spot in the Twins lineup. Trumbo would be strictly a DH option but would add some pop to the lineup. He also would come with a price tag so it would be nice in a trade like that if the Twins could maybe send Phil Hughes and his contract back to the Orioles. That all leads us to a different bat option for the third proposal.
Trade Proposal 3: Felix Jorge, Zach Granite, and Tyler Jay for Trey Mancini.
This provides the Orioles with three ready or near ready MLB pieces. The Twins get a right-handed bat that can play the corner outfield, DH, and even has first base experience all on a pre-arbitration contract.