Published on June 18th, 2014 | by Thompson0
Twins’ Trade Bait and Why the Twins SHOULD Sell
After a devastating 2-1 extra-inning loss to the Boston Red Sox, Wednesday — their fifth straight — the Minnesota Twins, despite being just 6.5 games back, should start selling…and should be happy about it.
For the first time in years the Twins have players that will be of interest to almost any contender and a general manager who won’t fuck it up. They have a right- and left-handed bat, a deep bullpen, and even rotation depth. Yes, I said rotation depth. They have someone for everyone.
The Twins’ best offseason acquisition has paid dividends to say the least. Owed roughly just $1.5 million over the remainder of his contract and likely the most attractive trade chip for the Twins, Suzuki should pack his bags and Twins’ GM Terry Ryan should enjoy the fruits of his labor on this one. Josmil Pinto should be playing everyday anyway.
The Baltimore Orioles are in desperate need of a catcher in the wide-open AL East with Matt Wieters out for the season, and Suzuki will fit the mold perfectly. The Orioles even have minor league depth at catcher, so losing one shouldn’t get their panties in a bunch. Chance Sisco is a grade B, A-ball catcher currently slashing a .310/.379/.437 line. He’s expected to improve defensively if Josmil Pinot cannot, giving Pinto the option to move to DH in a few years. Oh, and the Orioles also have catcher Michael Ohlman at AA, so losing Sisco won’t be the end of the world. The Twins should take either.
The man everyone’s wanted to move for a solid year or more might actually be worth something. His team-friendly contract would have been nice to trade last year, but injuries made that an impossibility. Since returning from the DL with a wrist injury, Willingham has been taking more walks and going the other way, as his on-base percentage is also nearly 50 points higher (.422) than it was two years ago when he hit 35 homers, and his OBS is 27 points higher than it was during that amazing season (.494).
So who needs a left fielder who can’t play left-field? The Yankees. They have the worst DH production in the American League, sporting a .248/.325/.430 line. Willingham would be a massive upgrade, and with just $3.5 million owed to him over the second half of the season, it’s a cheap option for New York. So what can the Twins expect in return? How about Double-A RHP pitcher Bryan Mitchell? He boasts a wicked fastball and a 9.5 K/9 ratio and would be available.
This one could hurt, but it should be an easy decision for Terry Ryan. After wasting $11 million on Mike Pelfrey, he needs to find a way to get that money back, and trading Phil Hughes is a great start. The only reason this trade happens is because of the Twins’ Triple-A rotation, which has been incredible, and because Hughes is now an All-Star-quality starter. There’s been no better time to trade Hughes…except for that time the Twins were moving Johan Santana and the Yankees wouldn’t move Hughes. So, who would want Hughes? But more importantly, where would Hughes succeed?
The Mariners are only a half game back in the Wild Card at this point, and given the dimensions of Safeco Field, that would be the best place for Hughes. The reason this trade is so great for the Twins is because of Hughes’ performance thus far and the potential return. Danny Hultzen has been lights out at Triple-A Tacoma. He’s got a .848 WHIP and 10 strikeouts per nine innings. Not a guy the Mariners would be shopping, but for an All-Star caliber pitcher it’s more than reasonable, especially if grouped with more trade bait. It’s a great two-and-a-half-year salary dump for the Twins and gives them another rotation spot to call up Trevor May or Alex Meyer, which they’ll need if Kevin Correia finishes the season.
Like the Yankees, the Mariners could also use some help at DH, and Morales could be the answer. Morales has not let a vacation for nearly a third of the season affect his swing. He’s hitting .273/.314/.364 with 4 RBI and 4 runs scored in 35 plate appearances. Although the Mariners’ offer of 2 years and $20 million was well below the $14 million qualifying offer Morales declined, at this point in the season the Mariners can’t afford to be cheap. Under his current contract Morales would be a steal for the Mariners and wouldn’t cost much in prospects.
Grouping Hughes and Morales together gives the Twins more leverage and an opportunity to grab up to three prospects. I still like Hultzen, and Victor Sanchez is a 19-year-old right-hander tossing for the Mariners’ Double-A affiliate. He’s got incredible control for being just 19, giving up 12 walks in 44+ innings, but his real problem is the home run. He’s giving up two homers per nine innings this season. If the Twins coaching staff at Rochester and New Britain can iron out the wrinkles, Sanchez could be a great acquisition to fit into the future middle of the rotation for the Twins.
It’s understandable to be down while the Twins are playing their way out of the AL Central, but the potential moves to be made by the front office should help squelch the disappointment. There is finally value on the roster, and it’s time for Terry Ryan to act.