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Amidst the Rumors, Do the Twins Match-Up With the Yankees?

Amidst the Rumors, Do the Twins Match-Up With the Yankees?

by Cary Greene

July 17, 2021

*** Most MLB insiders expect the approaching Trade Deadline to involve two tiers of teams that will be looking to sell. There is increasing media buzz that identifies the Cubs, Nationals, Cardinals, Braves and Phillies all as possible sellers. All of these teams will probably listen to offers on veteran players but don’t expect a single one of them to trade controllable talent with upside and affordable contracts. A lot can happen in the next two weeks in the standings also, so drama and intrigue will be sky high on the hot-stove rumors front.

After Javier Báez turned down what was reportedly a sizable contract from the Cubs, Jed Hoyer, the Cubs GM, has gone so far as to speculate ahead of the Deadline about possible re-build plans. Every contending team will be calling Hoyer to talk about players he’s taking calls on – Craig Kimbrel, Kris Bryant, Javier Báez, Anthony Rizzo, Jason Heyward, and others that might perk their interest, like Ian Happ or Kyle Hendricks. Expect the Cubs to be the hottest trade rumors in baseball for the next two weeks – then they’re going to be moved to the back burner for a looong while as they rebuild.

The Nationals have discussed Patrick Corbin with several teams so they are beginning to come to the realization they should explore returns on valuable players with team control but also substantial remaining contracts.

The second tier of teams that absolutely should be looking to sell are the Tigers, Royals, Twins, Rangers, Orioles, Marlins, Rockies, Pirates and Diamondbacks. This group of teams is currently peddling players that aren’t part of their long term plans. I don’t expect the Yankees to have a lot of interest in each of these team’s list of players that they’re openly “taking calls on.” I expect Brian Cashman to wait out this period of clutter that the market is almost always in during the weeks leading up to the deadline.

More than likely, Cashman will circle back as the deadline approaches and he’ll look to move quickly while proposing trade packages for pre-identified players that the Yankees feel would be true difference makers. Clearly, he’s going to try to pry a few controllable superstars from this group of teams, while also looking at players these teams weren’t looking to move, but might consider moving if a package that fits what the selected team is doing and provides a little more value than what they’d be giving up.

Even-steven trade proposals rarely get accepted at the Deadline. The reason being is that the selling teams are receiving multiple offers so they simply wait until they get the best deal. Of course, for a team in dire need of selling, that strategy doesn’t always work out as well as it could have because buying teams make deals with other sellers as well. The whole dance is a double-edged sword.

I have looked at the Diamondbacks, Pirates, Rockies and Orioles so far as I have gauged which teams are the best fits with the Yankees as potential trade partners – all the while we’ve been optimistically assuming the Yankees would be buyers – as Brian Cashman has indicated he would be, providing the team is in contention by the deadline. The Yankees are in wait-and-see mode right now. These next games are critical in their decision-making.

Bryan Reynolds from the Pirates, while painfully costly, would be a player Cashman will probably make a strong play for. Cedric Mullins of the Orioles and Ketel Marte of the Diamondbacks are others in this “true-needle-mover” category. None would come without significant packages. I have looked at what those packages might look like.

I have also identified a second tier of players the Yankees might look to acquire – more so as ways for the Yankees to reshape the roster slightly and bring better balance. This short list of players wouldn’t be “true-needle-movers” though and so commensurately, the packages of prospects would hurt a whole lot less. Andrew Bennintendi and Carlos Santana of the Royals are two possible Yankee targets. Trevor Story or possibly Garrett Hampson of the Rockies are other possibilities.

One rumor that popped up recently from MLB’s Jon Morosi is that the Yankees should look into trading with the Twins for 27 year old righty starter José Berrios, who is coming into his final year of arbitration and will be a free agent in 2023. With one year of team control, José Berrios is a very attractive deadline target for many teams.

I will look very closely at how the Twins and the Yankees match up as trade partners today.

Are the Yankees and Twins realistic trade partners? In a vacuum, yes. When we factor in that the Padres are also hunting for a starter, the answer gets a lot shakier. The Padres have a lot better trade chips than the Yankees do. Compound this by most of the other contending teams lurking around as well and there’s only one way Cashman could get José Berrios.

The Twins are currently 11 ½ games out of the Wild Card race, so the writing is clearly on the wall. They’re going to be sellers. ESPN’s Jeff Passan recently wrote that the Twins are the team every contender is waiting on. Over the next two weeks, the Twins will become an extremely hot topic.

Surely the Twins will open trade talks by announcing they’re accepting calls on their “rental players.” Michael Pineda, who made a rehab start that didn’t go well for the Saint Paul Saints earlier this month is the first player they’d like to move and if any team trades for him, they’ll be on the hook for $5 million for the remainder of the season, after which point he’s a free-agent.

On the other side of the ball, the 41 year-old right handed slugger Nelson Cruz will be available for any team needing a big bat. Anyone trading for Cruz will pay the 6.5 million he is owed. Cruz is hitting .304 with 18 HR’s & 46 RBI so no doubt he’ll be in demand and there’s a chance he might still get that world-series ring yet. The A’s, Blue Jays, Rays and White Sox would all be potential landing spots for Cruz.

Moving along, the Twins will look to unload their 31 year old slick fielding, right hand hitting shortstop Andrelton Simmons. He would cost $5.25 million to whomever would like to upgrade their defense.

Other perspective rental the Twins would move on from in a heartbeat are 32 year-old right-handed reliever Alex Colome, who’s having an awful season with an ERA fast approaching 5.00, 31 year-old right-handed closer Hansel Robles who’s walking 5.1/9 this year, our good friend, the 38 year-old J.A. Happ who’s been shelled hard this year.

No doubt, the Twins are loaded with rental players. They also have a few players with reasonable years of control who will generate massive interest. It’s also important to note that the Twins have MLB’s #12 Farm-System with great pitching prospects in AA (Johan Duran) and A+ (Jordan Balazovik, a big time shortstop prospect in AA (Royce Lewis) and terrific corner outfielders in AA (Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach). Any trade with the Twins would need to factor in who they have on the way and where the holes would be that they would love to fill in as they look to overhaul their roster because the Twins will be getting a jump on doing precisely that this off-season.

It’s been widely reported that the Twins are specifically looking for young, nearly ready big-league talent – not prospects who are far off and that makes sense when you look at their system’s wave of young, nearly ready talent.

I believe Brain Cashman would be most interested in acquiring Minnesota’s José Berrios. Any trade of Berrios would need to net the Twins multiple blue-chip AA or AAA pitching prospects. The Twins might even want longer term controllable major league pitching in return.

Undeniably, José Berrios is a great fit for the Yankees and the two years of control are just what they need. Berrios is a 27 year-old righty who’s trade value has skyrocketed this year. Trading for him this season will cost Brian Cashman dearly. That said, the Yankees do have the chips to make a deal here, but you can kiss Clarke Schmidt or Deivi Garcia goodbye.

Here is what a Yankees potential trade with the Twins for José Berrios might look like: Yankees Get: RHP José Berrios – MLB Twins Get: RHP Deivi Garcia – AAA, RHP Domingo German – MLB, RHP Luis Medina – AA & RHP Mike King – MLB

In a package like this, the Twins would essentially get a 2 for 1 with King under control through 2025, under team control and German under control through 2024 both able to step in and pitch immediately. Meanwhile, Garcia’s arrival is imminent and his stuff flashes electric and he’s so young, the Twins could take their time with him. Plus, the Twins would get Medina who is shooting up the Yankees system, is only 22 year-old and is the Yankees #7 prospect. From the Twins side, this deal would go through for sure. From the Yankees perspective, it’s an attempt to make the rotation better and more prepared for playoff series battles this year and next. No doubt the Twins are selling high on José Berrios because if this trade were to have been made last year, it would have been a package INCLUDING Berrios for Garcia straight up. My how half a season can affect trade value!

My Take? If I was the Yankees I would do the deal. I’m not high on Deivi Garcia and I never have been. Mike King is trending towards being a very good long man out of the bullpen and he has value for sure. Parting with German is fine and it’s a good opportunity to basically replace his slot in the rotation with José Berrios. The Twins would insist on Medina’s electric arm and I’m not sure how Brian Cashman would feel about that. Without Medina, the Twins don’t make this trade though, so personally, I’d do it.

It’s been a long time since the Yankees had a good starting rotation. Berrios is young and he fits the high strikeout, good control profile the Yankees are looking for. Medina is a big trade chip right now so including him here inhibits Cashman’s ability to make other deals, so that’s something to consider. Still, José Berrios isn’t an astronomically hard to trade for “out of reach” pitcher. He comes with two years of control. He’s having a huge, breakout season also, light-years better than he’s ever been. That’s the only flag here for me. Would he regress and will Deivi Garcia be a future ace?

Time will tell…

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