The 2017-2018 offseason is here for the Minnesota Twins. Who could be their trade partners 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’ll 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 will go alphabetically through the league, and today we will look at a team that had a surprisingly poor season in 2017, the San Francisco Giants.
For an organization that has won 3 World Series titles in the 2010s and had not lost 95 or more games in over 30 years, the 2017 season was unexpected to say the least. The year started slow, and it just never really got better, finishing the season with a 64-98 record.
In a season that led to such an unexpected rough record, it’s not surprising that multiple players had abnormally poor years. Hunter Pence hit .260/.315/.385 with 13 home runs. No Giant hitter eclipsed 20 home runs.
The pitching had its share of tough performances as well. Midseason acquisition from 2016, Matt Moore, fell hard, posting a 5.52 ERA over 174 1/3 innings. None of the top 5 starters in innings thrown for the Giants posted an ERA under 4.40 on the season.
A big reason why the rotation struggled was the absence of its ace as Madison Bumgarner only made 17 starts after injuring his shoulder in a dirt bike accident. He was able to throw just 111 innings after throwing at least 200 innings every season since 2011 and averaging 213 innings per season in that time frame, it was notable not to have him taking the ball every fifth day.
Bumgarner had a rough year for him, pitching to a 3.32 ERA, which is the first time since 2012 that he had over a 3.00 ERA. He did have a lower strikeout rate than he’d posted since breaking into the major leagues, but he did have a low walk rate to keep his pitching line in check.
The offense did see its traditional leader come through in 2017 with one of his best seasons, as catcher Buster Posey hit .320/.400/.462 with 12 home runs. Eduardo Nunez hit .308/.334/.417 with 4 home runs and 18 stolen bases before he was traded midseason to the Red Sox.
While big 2016-2017 offseason signee Mark Melancon struggled in his first year with the Giants in part due to injury, Cory Gearrin posted an excellent season, throwing 68 relief innings with a 1.99 ERA, and Hunter Strickland made 68 appearances with a 2.64 ERA.
Possible Trade Interest
Giants may want: Power, power, power. While the team could use some more relief arms and a few other things, the primary need in San Francisco is power in the lineup. The Giants also have been working on trading away some salary as they are contract-loaded, which has hampered their ability to pursue some trades and free agents this offseason.
Twins may want: A power bat for the DH position, starting pitching, relief pitching
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With those needs how could the Twins and Giants match up? Here are three ideas:
Trade proposal #1: Twins trade Felix Jorge, Kennys Vargas, and Alex Robinson for RHP Johnny Cueto and ~$20 million in cash. The Giants, having just added some significant salary in their trade with the Rays, are likely looking to trim long-term money on the team outside of ace Madison Bumgarner. Cueto is guaranteed a hair over $92 million over 4 years (adding in a buyout of his 2022 option). The cash along with Cueto would bring him to roughly a $18 million annual salary.
Cueto’s pitch performance didn’t really change from 2016 to 2017, though his ERA rose from 2.79 to 4.52. What changed was a .322 BABIP in 2017 versus a .293 BABIP in 2016 along with a 14% home run per fly ball rate, which is almost double his 2016 8.4% rate and still 4% higher than his career 10.2% rate, so he could be expected to pitch much better going forward.
Acquiring Cueto would likely take the Twins out of the market for a top starter in free agency, however, so that would have to be gauged as well.
Trade proposal #2: Twins trade Kohl Stewart and Tom Hackimer for LHP Will Smith. Smith missed all of 2017 with Tommy John surgery and will be returning in 2018. He has been throwing since September, so he should be ready to contribute early in the season.
Smith was an excellent reliever for the Brewers for multiple seasons before a midseason trade in 2016 to the Giants, where he excelled for the Giants down the stretch, striking out 26 in 18 1/3 innings before injuring his elbow last spring. He would bring an excellent veteran lefty arm to the Twins bullpen.
Trade proposal #3: Twins trade Kennys Vargas and Zach Granite for OF Heath Quinn and LHP Garrett Williams. Vargas is a piece that makes sense for the Giants as a power-focused bat to play 1B and bump Brandon Belt out to left field, but after moving Denard Span in their deal to acquire Evan Longoria, the Giants will likely be looking for a quality center fielder as well, and there are few available with Granite’s defensive chops for certain.
Quinn is a strong, power-hitting right fielder that missed significant time last season due to injury. He played at high-A in 2017, so he could be ready for AA in 2018. Williams was an injury/control risk that the Giants took a risk on out of Oklahoma State in the 2016 draft, and he showed very well in 2017.