Welcome to July, Minnesota Twins Fans. After an ugly sweep at the hands of the division-leading Chicago White Sox, the team now sits at 33-46, two games behind the third-place Detroit Tigers and half a game ahead of the woeful Kansas City Royals.
79 games into the season (two less than halfway through the year), the Twins are 14.5 games out of first place and even as the team gets healthier (Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, and Kenta Maeda all just came back from injury), the team is still in bad shape.
For a team that had title hopes and playoff expectations, this year has been nothing short of disastrous. Blame the pitching or the injuries, but this hasn’t been a playoff team, and it’s time to officially look towards the future.
The most logical step should be for the Minnesota Twins to sell, even if it’s not a fire sale.
The Twins are in a tough spot. Their hitters haven’t been healthy most of the year, and the team still has some very solid arms. The core of this team is a good one, and the prospects that are coming up look very promising. This makes a full-on fire sale unlikely, but staying put or buying makes no sense. It’s time to sell, so let’s break down why.
Minnesota Twins Reason to Sell No. 1: A Lost Season
This year hasn’t been good for a variety of reasons, but the organization simply can’t look at this roster and see a contender. The free agent additions have flopped horribly, with Matt Shoemaker officially being designated for assignment, and most of the longer-tenured Twins have been okay at best.
Injuries have surely played a role, but the ineffectiveness of the veterans (with Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco serving as the only exceptions) have dragged down what should have been a solid offense.
On the mound, Jose Berrios, Hansel Robles, Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar, have been the only consistent guys, and outside of Michael Pineda, Luke Farrell, and Tyler Duffey, no one else has even been acceptable.
The bottom line is, when good players are playing as bad as a lot of this team has, you just have to mark it up to a bad year and try to salvage what you can from the pieces that you can move. This leads me to reason to sell No. 2.
Minnesota Twins Reason to Sell No. 2: Valuable Trade Chips
The team needs to start thinking about who won’t be a part of future plans, and what they can get for those players. As we’ve talked about before, this team has several guys who the Twins could move at no cost to 2022.
Nelson Cruz, Michael Pineda, Andrelton Simmons, and Hansel Robles, all could easily find suitors and bring back some value, and trading Alex Colome and J.A. Happ as lottery tickets who could return to form for playoffs could work if they bounce back even slightly by the deadline.
That’s just the guys who the Twins could sell on and lose out on nothing going forward. If the team believes that 2022 isn’t their year either, there are several other very valuable trade chips that the team could move.
Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton would both bring back huge packages of prospects. Max Kepler would bring back a solid return for his team-friendly contract, power, and defense. Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Caleb Thielbar all could be worth a decent prospect. Even selling low on Kenta Maeda would bring back a solid prospect.
Building around Ryan Jeffers, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jorge Polanco, and Luis Arraez has potential. The Twins have two Top-100 pitching prospects on the way, and if they (and Royce Lewis) become good MLB players, the Twins will have a home-grown core for the future, and that doesn’t even include the prospects that would come back from the trades.
That’s a pretty exciting future to think about. Even if this team isn’t what it should be right now, the prospect group that should head back to the Twins from any trades will be very helpful going forward.
Minnesota Twins Reason to Sell No. 3: The Team Doesn’t Have to Blow it all up
Now that we’ve talked about selling, we get to talk about the Twins’ likely mindset of things: the team doesn’t have to have a full-on fire sale. The starting pitching sucks. The hitters were injured, but if the addresses these needs in free agency, this team could still compete next year.
Trade away players with expiring deals and maybe a reliever or two, but if the team goes out and goes after a few high level players (they tried to get Marcus Semien last year, try harder in 2022), and this roster is still built to compete.
With a little injury luck, a solid offseason, and continued development from prospects and young players, the Twins could turn things around. Trade Cruz and then bring him back. There are lot of different possibilities that could turn it all around for next season.
We don’t know how the rest of this season will turn out. We don’t know how the trade deadline or upcoming offseason market will change. The only thing we do know is that the Minnesota Twins need to be sellers in 2021.