Sam Dyson and Sergio Romo represented the sum total of the Twins’ midseason additions as the club tries to hold its lead atop the AL Central. While Dyson and Romo address needs in the bullpen, Minnesota was also very aggressive in looking for starting pitching, though ultimately came up short in reinforcing the rotation.
Rival teams continually asked the Twins about top prospects Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, with the Mets among the multiple clubs who asking for both youngsters. New York wanted both Lewis and Kiriloff in discussions about Noah Syndergaard, and if premium minor league talent wasn’t available for the ace, the Mets were also focused on adding Major League players, to the point of asking Minnesota about Byron Buxton in a possible Syndergaard deal.
Lewis and Kirilloff were also on the mind of the Blue Jays’ front office, as Toronto was looking for either of the prospects in exchange for Marcus Stroman. Minnesota turned down this initial request, and The Athletic’s Dan Hayes reports that the Jays never called back with any other offers before trading Stroman to the Mets. This would seem to indicate that the Jays were only interested in Lewis and Kirilloff specifically, though Hayes writes that “the Twins were disappointed when Toronto didn’t give them a chance to match an offer they believed they could have outdone.”
Beyond the prospects, Hayes tweeted that Luis Arraez was “everyone’s favorite ask” amongst teams who were offering rental players to Minnesota. Arraez has been a revelation for the Twins over his first 43 Major League games, as the rookie is hitting .349/.422/.445 over 166 plate appearances. Arraez has long boasted strong averages and on-base numbers in the minors, and while regression is inevitable, his .361 xwOBA isn’t far off his .388 wOBA. With this much potential, it isn’t hard to see why the Twins were reluctant to part with a 22-year-old, multi-positional talent for only a rental player (or potentially anyone).
Hayes reports that the Twins were considering both Robbie Ray and Mike Minor, though concerns about Ray’s durability and Minor’s July struggles diminished the interest. On the relief front, the Twins also had interest in Pirates closer Felipe Vazquez.
“It was one of the most unique trade deadlines I’ve ever experienced,” Twins GM Thad Levine told Hayes and other reporters. “One error I made was assuming that early in the trade cycle that the leverage was towards the seller. I assumed that there was going to be a little bit of a shift of that see-saw back to the buyer as we got closer to the deadline. I’m not sure we ever saw the shift in the see-saw. The sellers felt pretty emboldened. They set the prices high, which is very normal in a trade deadline. But I’m not sure they moved off of those high asks at any point, and as a result, there were just a finite number of players that meaningfully changed the fortunes of playoff-contending teams.”
Early talks with the Giants involving multiple players (including Dyson, Madison Bumgarner, and Will Smith) did result in the late Dyson trade. Minnesota and San Francisco re-engaged in talks just 45 minutes before the 3pm CT deadline, medicals on the four players in the deal were exchanged at 2:50pm, and the trade was finalized with just five minutes to spare.