After a disappointing 17-29 start to the season, the Twins aren’t decided sellers, but they might not be far off, writes MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand. Said GM Thad Levine, “We still believe in the team. We think it’s very talented, but we’re getting close to an inflection point where we’re going to need to see some more sustained momentum, as we believe we’re in a very competitive division, let alone league.” That sounds like a front office that’s readying to make the most of a bad situation.
The Twins are tied with the Orioles for the worst record in the American League after 46 games, roughly 28 percent of the way through the season. As of today, they sit 9.5 games behind the White Sox for the AL Central lead. They are 11 games out of a wild card spot. Only the Orioles and Tigers seem like definite sellers at this point in the AL, joined by the Pirates, Rockies, and Diamondbacks from the National League. The Twins could try to get a jump on the trade market and move some veterans while there’s still a large pool of potential buyers.
For context, on this date two years ago, the Nationals famously entered play at 19-31, 10 games behind the Phillies for the division lead, 8.5 games out of a wild card spot. So while there’s definitely precedent for turning it around at this stage of the game, it took a historic .661 win percentage the rest of the way to pull the Nats to 93 wins. The Twins will soon have to decide if they think this unit is capable of that kind of run.
They’re looking up at a crowded field in the American League where the Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, White Sox, Astros, Blue Jays, A’s, and Indians look like contenders and the Royals, Rangers, Angels, and Mariners can make arguments in their favor. If the Twins decide to lean into a lost season, they certainly have some veterans on hand who could be helpful to contending teams. Nelson Cruz and his 138 wRC+ could certainly find a home, as might other veterans on short-term deals like Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, Hansel Robles, J.A. Happ, or even Alex Colome.
More broadly, Miguel Sano could be shopped to a team needing power. Even someone like Max Kepler might fetch a juicy return given his team-friendly deal. The Twins have no need to move Kepler, but with young players like Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff on hand, he might be someone a savvy team looking for outfield help might ask after.
The biggest fish would be Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, or Byron Buxton, all of whom have just one season left of arbitration before free agency. Moving any of the three would be a difficult call on the Twins’ part, however, considering the damage that kind of deal might do to their ability to contend in 2022. All that said, prospects are the currency of the game, and a strong development pool is the surest way to build a consistent winner.
The Twins are weighing their options, but let’s make this easy on them. Is it time to sell?
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