Continuing on with the frenetic pace they’ve set in recent days, the Twins have been discussing trade possibilities with the Athletics, tweets MLB.com’s Jon Morosi. Minnesota and Oakland have discussed scenarios that would send lefty Sean Manaea or right-hander Frankie Montas to the Twins.
The Twins and A’s were logical trade partners coming out of the lockout, given Minnesota’s dire need for rotation help and the fact that Oakland had at least three starters expected to be available: Manaea, Montas and the since-traded Chris Bassitt (who was dealt to the Mets this weekend). The Twins have already upgraded their starting staff by plucking Sonny Gray from the Reds in Sunday afternoon trade, but there are still clear holes to fill in a rotation that presently includes Gray, Dylan Bundy and youngsters Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan.
Either Manaea or Montas would further deepen a rapidly changing Twins roster. The former figures to be more attainable and have a lower price tag than the latter, as Manaea will be a free agent at season’s end. Montas, meanwhile, is controlled through the 2023 season via arbitration.
A former No. 34 overall draft pick, the 30-year-old Manaea has come roaring back from 2018 shoulder surgery to reestablish himself as a quality big league starter. Since returning late in the 2019 season, Manaea has tossed 263 innings of 3.73 ERA ball with an above-average 24.8% strikeout rate and a fantastic 5.2% walk rate. Manaea made 11 starts during the Covid-shortened 2020 season and took the ball 32 times last year while racking up 179 1/3 innings, so the shoulder issues that derailed his 2018-19 seasons look to be in the past. He’s projected by MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz to earn $10.2MM this coming season.
Montas, who’ll turn 29 in a week, just wrapped a career year with the A’s. The 2021 season was the first time in Montas’ big league career that he crossed the 100-inning threshold, but he nearly jumped all the way to 200 frames, racking up 187 innings of 3.37 ERA ball to go along with a 26.6% strikeout rate and 7.3% walk rate. Montas averaged 96.6 mph on his heater and posted huge marks in swinging-strike rate (13.7%) and opponents’ chase rate (35.9%). He’s projected to earn $5.2MM in arbitration this year.
It should be noted that Montas did miss significant time in 2019 after being hit with an 80-game PED suspension, and he struggled considerably in his return to the mound in 2020 (5.60 ERA in 53 innings/11 starts). That said, Montas has consistently posted strong strikeout and walk rates in his big league career and would, as is the case with the recently acquired Gray, give the Twins a key rotation piece for at least the next two seasons. Accordingly, the cost to acquire him figures to be higher than the cost to acquire Manaea.
Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey has said in the hours since completing last night’s Josh Donaldson deal with the Yankees that Minnesota has many irons in the fire, and talks with the A’s figure to just be one of many possibilities they’re exploring. Minnesota has, in the past few days, traded Mitch Garver to Texas in a deal to acquire Isiah Kiner-Falefa; traded pitching prospect Chase Petty to the Reds to acquire Gray; and traded Kiner-Falefa, Donaldson and catcher Ben Rortvedt to the Yankees in a deal that netted Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela and upwards of $40MM in salary relief. They’ve since been rumored to have interest in free agent shortstop Trevor Story. That, paired with the acquisition of Gray and talks with Oakland, show that even amid a dramatic roster reshaping, Minnesota is aiming to contend in the AL Central for the 2022 season.