For all the speculation and angst about the nonwaiver trading deadline Friday, the Twins have yet to make a move, and the rumor mill has not connected Minnesota to many if any big names. (My own speculation about Jonathan Paplebon was so wildly inaccurate in so many ways that I'm embarrassed to think about it now.)
If the Twins make no trade this week and ultimately miss out on a wild-card berth, I'm good with that. If they trade Max Kepler or Jorge Polanco for a bullpen rental, I'll have to see a World Series trip to be satisfied with the move, and that sort of outcome is not guaranteed.
These are the key facts:
- The Twins are nine games behind Kansas City in the division. They're not catching the Royals.
- That means their door into the postseason is a wild card berth, That's a one-game crapshoot.
- Unlike Kansas City and Detroit, their realistic time is down the road a bit.
This is prime time in the Royals' cycle. They need to make their push now, because key parts of their lineup are in late arbitration years or approaching free agency. The Royals management recognizes this; that's why they traded much of their farm system for two to three months of Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, and it's why they're treating Salvador Perez as a disposable asset. Flags fly forever, and the Royals don't care if Perez is a wreck in five years; he won't be there by then anyway.
The window is closing in Detroit, regardless of whether they trade free-agents-to-be David Price and Yoenis Cepedes. Their farm system has been neglected, the core of the roster is aging and the financial commitments to Miguel Cabrera and Justin Verlander in what figures to be their decline phases are staggering.
The Twins, on the other hand, are a team in transition with better days ahead. I genuinely don't want them making short-term moves except in the bullpen, and I certainly don't want them trading away prime prospects for rentals. Trading a good prospect for a multi-year fix at shortstop or catcher, yes, but that's more likely a wintertime move than a deadline deal.
I'm comfortable with treating outfielders Oswaldo Arcia and Adam Brett Walker as trade chips for short-term bullpen help, because I don't see either being part of the outfield future anyway. Those two are, or should be, well behind Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario, Aaron Hicks and Kepler. If, as I increasingly expect, Torii Hunter returns, Arcia and Walker are even further back. Arcia's out of options next year anyway,
The next question is whether Arcia can demand anything in return. The market for platoon designated hitters (Arcia's optimal role) has always been limited, and this isn't Earl Weaver's American League. Walker might be another matter; if he gets his strikeouts under control he might be the next Nelson Cruz. But that's a big if.