I think that after a whole lot of disagreement between writers and fans about the fate of the Minnesota Twins in 2021, it appears as the generally fatalistic fan base in Minnesota was correct. This will be a lost season. Of course, the writers were correct as well, in that players would start to turn around, but there is no way anyone could have anticipated that most of the roster would end up injured.
But alas, it is time for the Twins to start thinking about 2022, as it appears as though contention in 2021 is no longer feasible. The Twins will look for deals for guys on expiring contracts, like Nelson Cruz, if he wants to go, or Andrelton Simmons, Alex Colome or Michael Pineda. None is likely to return much for the Twins, save, perhaps, for Pineda, who is likely to elicit some competition, and a better deal for the Twins.
A look at the Twins’ history, though, and you see that the Twins best deals, in the long term, were when they dealt away players that still had time under contract, and were extremely talented. The first and best example of this was in the 1989 season, when the Twins, just a couple of years after their World Series win, were in a rough spot. They traded away their ace pitcher, Frank Viola, a year after he won the Cy Young, and a couple of years before he reached free agency. The Twins received the assets it took to rebuild their pitching staff for a run to the World Series in 1991, including starting pitcher Kevin Tapani and star reliever Rick Aguilera.
Despite a request for a trade in 1997, Tapani and Aguilera’s ’91 teammate Chuck Knoblauch was still under contract, and thus had significant value as a 4 time all star when he was traded to the Yankees. The Twins received a couple of additional All Stars in Eric Milton and Cristian Guzman, as well as Brian Buchanan, all of whom helped to kick start the Twins’ return to prominence in the 2000s.
Even a smaller scale move, like the more recent trade of Ryan Pressley to the Astros has delivered more significant returns than a trade of a rental component. Grouse as you might about 2021, two contributors that are on this years roster, and are probably a part of the future came from that trade. Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino are both showing off their tools, though a bit raw, and will ultimately lead a lot of people to agree the at the Twins won the trade, despite Pressley’s success in Texas.
The point is this. The Twins will make moves this summer, clearing some of the roster of expiring contracts, but significant changes to the organizational make up will require moving players with a bit more time on their contract.