Let the Major League Baseball trade speculation begin. Memorial Day has passed, and by the end of June most teams know if they’ll contend for a playoff run.
Teams are either buyers or sellers at the July 31 trade deadline. The teams in contention will be looking to give up prospects for players or pitching that can fill an immediate need. On the flip side, teams out of the race will send their top players to a team in contention in return for those prospects. It gives veteran players a chance to contribute to a team heading to the postseason.
Barring a miraculous 20-game win streak or a perfect June, the phone in the Minnesota Twins front office will be busy before the deadline. The season has been a bust and front office changes could be coming. Here are five Twins players that could be dealt by the trade deadline.
And no, Joe Mauer isn’t one of them. His contract includes a full no-trade clause and no contending team will pay his contract for the numbers he produces. So just stop it.
He was the subject of trade rumors most of last season and into the offseason, but Trevor Plouffe was the Opening Day starter at third base this year. He’s currently hitting .246 with three homers and 11 RBI. He’ll be a wanted commodity for contending teams looking for a power-hitting third baseman. He could also serve as a utility outfielder our designated hitter.
Good left-handed pitching, especially out of the bullpen, is hard to come by. Fernando Abad has appeared in 24 games this season and has a 0.93 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 19 1/3 innings. He has one walk in his last seven appearances. The Twins might not get a ton for him, but playoff teams will come calling for left-handed relief pitching.
With the Twins win over the Royals last Wednesday, Tyler Duffey became the first Twins’ starting pitcher to win two games on the season. That’s hard to do 45 games into the year. He’s 2-4 in seven starts with a 4.57 ERA and 36 strikeouts and just nine walks in 41 1/3 innings. He could be a reliable fourth or fifth starter on a potential playoff team. The Twins won’t get more than a prospect or two for him.
Twins fans might be just as eager to trade Ricky Nolasco on Terry Ryan’s behalf as other teams might be to acquire him. It’s the one gamble a contending team would be taking. Nolasco has a big contract and has been plagued by injuries with the Twins. But he’s been healthy this year and is 2-3 with a 5.28 ERA with 53 strikeouts in 58 innings. He could be an option for a contender willing to pay for a back-end starter in the rotation. Don’t hold your breathe though, Twins fans.
The Twins acquired Kevin Jepsen before the trade deadline last year to add an arm to the bullpen. They’ve need him with Glen Perkins out injured both currently and last year. He’s currently 2-4 with a 5.91 ERA, 15 strikeouts and six saves in 22 appearances. Jepsen doesn’t make it look pretty at times, but he could be a valuable bullpen arm for a contender. He’s another arm that you won’t get more than a prospect or two for, but that’s the nature of the business.
The bottom line: It is very likely that the Twins’ roster will look a lot different on Aug. 1 than it does now. Barring something unexpected, it won’t be pretty. And again, the Twins aren’t trading Joe Mauer, so don’t even think about it.