To say the Minnesota Twins season has been a disaster would be a colossal understatement. The team was picked to contend for both the AL Central title and the American League title. Instead, the Twins juggernaut has fallen off of both rails. They are currently in last place in the division, 16 1/2 games back.
Start with a bullpen that resembles a dumpster fire, poor overall fielding, and a lack of clutch hitting. Add to that combustible back-end starters, and a slew of injuries to key players and unfortunately it is time to think about rebuilding for the future. Let’s examine the Twins with expiring contracts that will probably be heading out the door.
Nelson Cruz: This maybe the easiest one to call. The soon to be 41-year-old slugger with the huge expiring contract would be a valuable addition to a contending American League team. Nelson Cruz still has some pop in his bat and is an inspirational clubhouse leader. The team will hate to say goodbye to him but in return, they most likely will receive a couple of budding prospects.
Michael Pineda: Big Mike has actually pitched well this season but has been burdened with a lack of run support. Pineda recently was placed on the Injured List complicating his movement to another team. But he is expected back in a couple of weeks and could help the middle rotation of a contending team. Pineda would most likely fetch the Twins a decent pitching or infield prospect.
Andrelton Simmons: His fielding is not as sharp as it once was and he is just an average hitter, but some team might be interested in picking him up for the stretch run. He still is a good fielder, and it would only cost the trade partner a middle of the road prospect.
Hansel Robles: Robles has been the Minnesota Twins most consistent relief pitcher this year. He has struggled as of late, but he would be a popular middle relief pickup for a division contending team. This would be more of a salary dump, but the Twins may be able to pry an A-League prospect from one of the top teams.
Now two players that don’t have expiring contracts but would be great bargaining chips.
Josh Donaldson: His does not become a free agent until 2025 and his contract is a hefty one. But he would fit nicely on someone’s playoff roster. Donaldson still has some pop in the bat, and he still fields very well at third base.
There would have to be some maneuvering with his contract, The Twins might be able secure a couple of top 15 prospects for the veteran slugger.
Byron Buxton: I can hear the groans out there from my fellow Twins fans. Get rid of the most exciting player in baseball. The fastest Minnesota Twin ever. The elite fielding centerfielder. Yes, yes, and yes. The fact remains that this gifted player has never played more than 140 games in a season. In addition, he has never registered 500 or more at-bats in an entire year. He will most likely top out at about 110 games played this year, as he is still on the Injured List.
His contract expires at the end of next year, and he will be 29 years old if he signs a new one with the Twins. Key to this is keeping Buxton healthy until the trade deadline. If this happens, they likely would be able to pluck three pretty good prospects from an opposing team.
As for the rest of the Twins, there would be little interest in players such Alex Colome, Max Kepler, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker. And the hope here is that the team retains the services of Jose Berrios, Taylor Rogers, and Jorge Polanco as building blocks for the future. And the future looks bright for young players such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker and Trevor Larnach.
So, it’s time for the Minnesota Twins to turn this once promising season into a rebuilding year. Nelson Cruz will be the biggest name on the block, but several of the aforementioned players could be assets to teams that are in the playoff hunt. Twins management won’t yet admit that they will be sellers in the next month. But they are too far out of the race to contend for a playoff berth this year. Better to use some of their valuable assets as trading chips to procure some prospects that will make the team stronger in 2022 and beyond.