Minnesota Twins: A tale of Two arms at the trade deadline
The Minnesota Twins are barely clinging to the lead in the AL Central and it’s possible they could bring in reinforcement from San Francisco or New York to help the cause.
The Minnesota Twins are in a bit of a free fall. Their once comfortable lead in the AL Central is down to three games. The team who once had the best record in baseball just got swept by the sub-.500 Mets at home and stop me if you’ve heard this before, but the glaring problem appears to be pitching.
The bullpen continues to blow leads late in games. The Twins have struggled historically with fielding a solid starting rotation. If ever there were a year to fix that problem, that year is now.
Two names that have come up repeatedly in trade talks are the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner and the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard. Though Bumgarner is a free agent at the end of the season, Syndergaard has 2 years of arbitration remaining meaning he’s a free-agent in 2022. While both players have cool nicknames (MadBum for Bumgarner and Thor for Syndergaard), there are compelling reasons to trade for either player.
Bumgarner has three more years of experience and, most importantly, is a three-time World Series champion and 2014 World Series MVP. His career ERA is 3.08 and his World Series ERA is absolutely bananas at 0.25. MadBum is also 3-0 in World Series games and his stats include a record-breaking 52 2/3 innings over the course of the 2014 postseason. Although his ERA has trended upwards since 2014, Bumgarner should definitely be at the top of the Twins’ wishlist.
The downside of a Bumgarner trade is that it won’t be cheap. The Giants will have a hefty price tag on their lefty and the Twins will almost certainly have to give up prospects, a significant amount of cash or both. Traditionally, the Twins have been unwilling to spend big money on a player, particularly one who could walk at the end of the season. Bumgarner also comes with a hefty $12 million dollar per year salary and it would be unlikely that the Giants would want to cover any of that.
If the price tag if Bumgarner is too much for the Twins to stomach, there is an option in the Big Apple. Syndergaard is a free-agent in 2022 meaning the team-control could make him an expensive option. Fortunately for the Twins, he will never be cheaper than he currently is thanks to the highest ERA of his career this year at 4.36. Although he’s in a bit of a down year, Thor is still a force on the mound.
In fact, despite his dominant 3.20 career ERA, the Mets have only made the postseason twice in his career, including reaching the World Series in 2015, where Syndergaard took the mound in Game 3 and picked up New York’s only win of the series.
There is an argument to be made that Syndergaard is a safer, more logical bet than Bumgarner. He has less postseason experience, which means he is hungry. He has fewer innings pitched overall, which means his arm is fresher. Maybe the most important factor in this decision, particularly for a small market team, is the potential for long-term team control. Syndergaard’s salary is half of Bumgarner’s. And he is three years younger than Bumgarner, which hopefully means more longevity.
This debate could be much ado about nothing if the Twins’ front office doesn’t make a move. Pitching will be critical moving through the back half of the year. The Twins have a chance to make a big move and continue to be contenders, but history has proven that this is not a team willing to spend money and take chances. Hopefully, this is the year they surprise everyone.