Monday, July 4, 2016

Twins Trade Deadline Primer

Photo Credit: Jesse Johnson, USA Today Sports
The firework dust settled and this means baseball's trade deadline is quickly approaching. Following next week's All-Star Game festivities in San Diego, contending teams will be wheeling and dealing to try and find the right pieces to push their organization to the next level.

Minnesota's terrible first half has put them in a position to be sellers in 2016. This isn't a terrible position to be in but the Twins have been bad in recent years and the front office hasn't been willing to part with trade chips. Maybe this year will be different as Terry Ryan looks to add to one of the best farm systems in baseball.

Who is available? What can the Twins get in return? Let's dive in...

Starting Pitchers: Ervin Santana, Ricky Nolasco
The Twins spent a lot of money on both of these pitchers on the free agent market and it hasn't gone according to plan. Santana spent the first part of his contract being suspended for 80 games and he hasn't been anything fantastic since returning to the mound. His name has even popped up in national headlines as "perhaps the most viable trade deadline pickup on the market." Nolasco has struggled with very brief flashes of being the pitcher the Twins thought they were getting.

With both pitchers, the Twins would have to pay some of their remaining contracts. Santana is owed $27 million over the next two seasons and Nolasco is owed $24 million during the same stretch. That's a lot of money to two pitchers that haven't lived up to expectations but maybe both could be helped by moving back to the National League.

Trading one or both of these players would free up a second half rotation spot for the likes of Jose Berrios. Some Twins fans have even started the discussion about Trevor May being stretched out and put back in the rotation. Minnesota needs to see what they have in their young pitchers and the second half can offer them that opportunity.

Relief Pitchers: Fernando Abad
Contending teams pay a premium for effective relief pitching near the deadline (see Matt Capps for Wilson Ramos trade). Even Minnesota traded for relief help last year when Kevin Jepsen was acquired for a pair of pitching prospects. Jensen was designated for assignment over the weekend which can show how fickle relief pitchers can be.

Abad has run into some rough outings in the last week but he still might be one of the team's most valuable trade pieces. As a left-handed relief pitcher, he has held lefties to batting under .175 and they are getting on-base less than 21% of the time. He also comes with an extra year of team control so that adds some value to him since he can't be a free agent until 2018.

Much like trading one of the starting pitchers would open a spot for Berrios, dealing Abad could open a role for an up-and-coming relief arm. J.T. Chargois didn't get much of a look in his brief call-up so it would be nice to see more of him in the second half.

Position Players: Brian Dozier, Eduardo Nunez, Trevor Plouffe, Kurt Suzuki
Dozier isn't going to be part of the next winning team in Minnesota. He has busted out of his early season slump in a big way and he's under contract for the next two seasons for and average value of $7.5 million per year. Jorge Polanco has been ready for the big leagues but the Twins have no where to put him. Trading Dozier opens up a spot for Polanco and he could bring back an intriguing prospect or two.

Nunez has been the biggest surprise on the Twins roster this season. For the first time in his career, he has become an everyday starter and he has taken full advantage of the opportunity. He is arbitration eligible for one more season and he can play multiple spots around the infield. For a team looking for a bench player with some versatility, Nunez could be their man. It might also be the first time in awhile where the Twins have sold high on a player and not waited until his value was gone.

The Miguel Sano outfield experiment seems to be coming to an end. Plouffe's time in Minnesota has included plenty of good moments and he has become a fan favorite. However, Plouffe would likely leave in free agency after the 2017 campaign so trading him now could result in more value. A contending team might need a bat off the bench or a replacement at third and Plouffe can serve both of those roles. He will be on the disable list until for the next couple weeks so he might be able to be dealt until the off-season.

Much like Dozier, Suzuki has broken out of his early-season offensive slump. His contract expires at the end of the year and the Twins will likely need to go in a different direction from the aging catcher. He is below average on the defensive side of the ball but Twins pitchers have like his ability to call games. Suzuki could serve in a back-up catcher role or be asked to fill-in for an injured starting catcher. His veteran leadership and experience could be intriguing.

There's the list of potential trade targets. Who else do you think the Twins should make available? What can Minnesota get back for the pieces that they have? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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