With the Twins sitting just a half-game out of the AL Central lead as June draws to a close, the team’s place in the standings has at least partially modified its approach to the trade deadline, GM Thad Levine tells MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. While the focus remains on the future, Minnesota is also taking account of the fact that there’s a real possibility of reaching the postseason in 2017.
Though the club’s general assessment of its roster and timeline hasn’t changed substantially, Levine suggests, the performance — and perhaps also the opportunity created by a tightly-bunched American League — has impacted the calculus. “I think it leaves us contemplating buying, and that’s how the season has impacted our decision-making.”
That said, fans shouldn’t expect significant win-now moves. As Levine explains, the Twins’ imperative of sustainable contention could potentially dovetail with an effort to improve the current roster. “We’re probably not going to be inclined to spend lavishly on short-term assets,” he says, “but we would be very open to spending aggressively on assets that we could use to propel our team forward this year and for years to come.”
Lower-cost rental pieces could be considered, of course, but it makes sense that the club isn’t interested in paying top dollar for such assets. “I don’t think we view it as we’re just one piece away and we’re not looking to finish off this club,” says Levin. “We’re looking to continue to build this club. We have a lot of core pieces that have a chance to be part of something special in the future, but we’re cognizant that we’re going to need to add to that core.”
Looking at the Twins’ depth chart, there likely isn’t a lot of room for major changes on the position-player side of the equation. Minnesota has received mostly solid production out of its regulars and reserves, and is rather committed to most of those players.
The pitching, though, is another story. Outside of veteran Ervin Santana and youngster Jose Berrios, the rotation has produced middling results and ugly peripherals. And though there are a few relievers throwing well — closer Brandon Kintzler, in particular — there’s surely room to upgrade there as well.
It’ll obviously be quite interesting to see what kinds of options Levine and chief baseball officer Derek Falvey pursue. Speculation on particular players would be just that at this point, but most of the conceivable possibilities can be found in our latest ranking of the top 50 trade deadline candidates (and the many other players listed there). No doubt their level of aggressiveness will depend upon how the standings look at the end of the month. Payroll — both this year and in the future — will also be a consideration; the Twins entered the season with about $108MM on the books, close to the highest rate the organization has carried.