Minnesota Twins: Grading the Chris Paddack-Taylor Rogers Trade
By Otto Johnson
Just when you though the Minnesota Twins roster was set, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine set out once again to prove you wrong:
With the rotation in a bit of a concerning state, the team went after a pair of arms they had been chasing for at least a year, bringing back Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan, both of whom have at least two years of team control.
The Minnesota Twins brought in Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan in exchange for Taylor Rogers.
To get both players, the Twins had to pay a fairly high toll: All-Star reliever Taylor Rogers and once-promising prospect Brent Rooker. With the deal now official, it’s time to once again break down another Twins move and grade the deal.
San Diego Padres Get: LHP Taylor Rogers, OF Brent Rooker, and $6.6M Cash
When you make a move for a starting pitcher with three years of control remaining, it means you’ll have to give something up. For the Twins, that meant sending out relief ace Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker.
In Rooker, the Twins are waving the white flag on the 27-year old. The former first round pick dominated in the minors, but couldn’t translate that success to the major. He still has some monstrous power and the potential to develop into a solid big leaguer, but with Alex Kirilloff, Max Kepler, Trevor Larnach, and Kyle Garlick ahead of him, it was time to move on.
The big part of this deal is Rogers. An All-Star in 2021, Rogers is coming off of one of the best seasons of his career. It’s not hard to see his value. With that being said, an injury (that could linger) derailed his season last year in late July, and he’s a free agent at the end of the year. It makes sense that they decided to move him from an analytical standpoint.
From a team standpoint, it’s tough. Rogers is a clubhouse leader and the team union rep. He’s well-liked by fans, and the team’s de facto closer. The team was just getting comfortable as a group and move like this could really mess up morale.
On top of this, it’s hard to tell if the Twins have someone who will close. Baldelli will likely have to lean on a closer by committee, with Jorge Alcala, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, and possibly Jhoan Duran getting opportunities. Is the return enough to justify trading a player and person like that?
Minnesota Twins Get: RHP Chris Paddack and RHP Emilio Pagan
In short answer, yes, but the Twins need a few things to go right. Chris Paddack has struggled the past couple of years, and his advanced numbers suggest there’s some concern. Emilio Pagan‘s advanced numbers also are a little concerning since he arrived in San Diego, as he’s looked nothing like the relief ace he was in Tampa Bay.
If Wes Johnson can work with these guys, there’s a lot to like. Paddack’s fastball hasn’t lost velocity, and he has a good changeup and curve if everything is working right. Wes can help him better determine when to use each pitch, and there’s a very real chance Paddack reaches his ceiling of a strong Number 2 starter.
In Pagan, his pitches still have very solid spin rate, and with two years left on his deal, the Twins can help him out with when to throw what, and his new splitter could be a solit potential option. He’ll be able to play in a pitcher-friendly ballpark where he has the chance to thrive.
Grading the Deal for the Minnesota Twins
Here’s the bottom line for the Twins. This team is geared to contend this year. You don’t sign Carlos Correa and trade for Sonny Gray if you’re hoping to move along a rebuild. Trading away an All-Star reliever doesn’t fit that plan.
With that being said, Chris Paddack has the stuff to be a legitimate Number 2 in a rotation. He has more potential than all but two of the Twins pitching prospects (Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino) and the Twins now have him locked in for THREE YEARS.
On top of that Pagan has the ceiling of a late-inning bullpen threat and the floor of a solid bullpen innings eater, and they also got him for two years. The return is awesome. Losing Rooker isn’t a huge deal, as it’s likely he was going to be designated for assignment.
Losing Rogers is. This will sting for a little bit, especially if Rogers lights it up in San Diego. With that being said, the Twins got three years of an MLB-ready starter and two years of a potentially good reliever for one year of a reliever who is coming off a serious injury. That’s a win.
If Paddack bounces back in his new surroundings, this may just wind up as the best trade the Twins made in an offseason that was filled with them. Until we know that he does for sure, I’m going to be slightly more conservative in my grading.