It’s July 22nd. The All-Star game is in the rearview mirror, the first half is over, and we’ve reached the point of the MLB season where true contenders emerge and teams begin to fall off the pace. The Minnesota Twins currently sit in first place but as the Trade Deadline is quickly approaching, the team has some work to do before it arrives.
The Twins play in the worst division in baseball and currently hold the worst record of all division leaders. They’re two games up on the Cleveland Guardians and three games up on the White Sox and head into a brutal stretch where 20 of their next 34 games come against teams with over .500 records.
The Minnesota Twins need to make some decisions before the Trade Deadline.
In order for the Twins to compete during this season, the team has to make some decisions in order to be successful the rest of the way, so we break down what the team needs to do before the Trade Deadline arrives in early August.
Trade Deadline Checklist Item No 1: Decide to Go All-In
The Minnesota Twins did a good job last year of selling in 2021 when the time was right. Now, they need to go the opposite way. In both 2019 and 2020, they only went halfway in, as Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo were their biggest additions.
This year has to be different. Luis Arraez and Byron Buxton will be here long term, but Carlos Correa might not be. If this is the one and only season of the ABC lineup, the team needs to go all-in. The lineup is playoff-ready. Arraez, Buxton, Correa are an excellent Top 3. Polanco, Miranda, and Kirilloff have come around as a great follow up. Now they just need pitching (more on that in a bit).
If the Twins don’t go all-in, they’re wasting a great lineup and one of the best chances they’ve had to earn a playoff win since the late 2000s. Instead, they should go all-in and try to prove to Correa that this team is committed to winning in the long-term (and that he should re-sign here).
Trade Deadline Checklist Item No. 2: Make a Decision on Miguel Sanó
Miguel Sanó is due to return from a rehab assignment by the end of the weekend and the team has to make a decision on whether or not they will be moving on from him or bringing him up to the MLB roster.
In my opinion, the best idea is to bring Sanó up to the MLB and option Gilberto Celestino. In 10 games between Rookie and Triple-A ball, Sano has slashed .313/.389/.781 with 4 HR (7 XBH). He’s ready to go back to the bigs. Over the last 28 games, Celestino has slashed slashed .150/.171/.250 with three XBH over 21 games. He’s been brutal.
Trevor Larnach will be coming back later in August, so Celestino would have gone down then anyway. It’s worth the chance to see if Sanó can be a quality bat down the line. If he struggles, they can DFA him when Larnach comes back. That’s a risk worth taking for a few weeks.
On the other hand, if the Twins decide that there isn’t anything else they can get from Sano, I can think of at least five or six teams that could use an extra power bat. The Twins can find a way to get something for him or out of him.
Trade Deadline Checklist Item No. 3: Commit to Alex Kirilloff and Jose Miranda
- Kirilloff: 24 G, .296/.344/.457, 3 HR, 16 RBI, 4-16 BB-K
- Miranda: 20 G, .290/353/.532, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 5-8 BB-K
They’ve made themselves invaluable parts of this lineup, and the Twins have the prospect capital to add more pitching help without having to sacrifice these two players. If they can’t make a deal without trading them, it’s worth considering if they should trade for that pitcher at all.
Trade Deadline Checklist Item No. 4: Acquire an Elite Starting Pitcher
If the Twins were to go all-in, the team MUST add a starting pitcher that they can put atop the rotation (or behind Joe Ryan). With a limited number of choices, Luis Castillo, Frankie Montas, and Tyler Mahle sit atop our list of the top available starting pitchers for the Twins to go after.
If the Twins added one of these arms, a rotation of Ryan, Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and one of these arms would be a Top 10 rotation. For the playoffs, Castillo/Montas/Mahle, Ryan, and Gray will win you at least one series.
This is easily one of the Twins’ two biggest needs. Chris Archer has shown he’s not a reliable starter, and Josh Winder has been solid, but inconsistent, so he’d be best used as a sixth starter/long relief man. Archer would be good as a two-inning reliever in place of Jharel Cotton. Speaking of Cotton…
Trade Deadline Checklist Item No. 5: Acquire a Reliable Reliever
The Twins’ bullpen has been inconsistent throughout most of the season, but by the end of the first half we’ve broke down the pen into three groups:
Joe Smith has been absolutely brutal since the end of May and has become basically unpitchable. Jharel Cotton‘s ERA is good, but his velocity is down, he’s struggling to hit the zone, and the ball is ending up in the seats when he pitches. Both should be DFA’d. Emilio Pagan is walking a ton of batters and giving up a ton of homers and has to go to (though he has an option so he should be sent down).
Adding in a starter and Jorge Alcala’s return from injury takes up those two roster spots, but the Twins have the prospect capital and extra roster spot to go out and add another reliever via trade (there are a lot of arms for them to go after).
Teams that win in the playoffs have a deep bullpen with a lot of different options. The Twins have a closer-level pitcher in Jhoan Druan. Jovani Moran and Griffin Jax are both reliable setup men. Trevor Megill, Caleb Thielbar, and (surprisingly) Tyler Duffey have proven themselves to be solid medium-leverage arms. That’s a really good group.
They just need one more to add to the mix in the bullpen (along with Alcala/Archer). If the Minnesota Twins went out and added an Anthony Bass, David Robertson, or David Bednar they’d be set up to compete in the long haul and most of them wouldn’t be too expensive.
Bottom Line: The Minnesota Twins have some work to do if they’re going to be a real contender come October and that starts with the Twins making moves leading up to the beginning of August. Hopefully they can make it happen.