Despite articles continuing to say the Twins are running out of time for 2021, this is almost assuredly not true. They are 15 games out in the AL Central, and it is the middle of June. The Twins have already run out of time. For a team that seemed destined for the playoffs at the beginning of the season, this is a stunning fall from grace.
Injuries have been a significant concern this year, and combined with the perceived talent on the roster, many smart people say the Twins have what it takes to return to contention next season, and that this approach will inform their deadline strategy.
Another important factor in the Twins struggles this year, however, has been that the team has received very little pitching outside of Jose Berrios and Michael Pineda. The rest of the rotation has been a shambles, and the bullpen is yet to get it’s feet under it. For all of the returning players on offense, the pitching staff will not get as much help.
With an emerging crop of pitching prospects that doesn’t quite look ready for the big time, it seems like this would be the perfect opportunity for the Twins to leverage their assets and start stockpiling young arms for a more concerted effort at contention in a few years.
But they can’t, and they probably shouldn’t. The Twins have a handful of assets that are under contract for the next several years. With Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Josh Donaldson and Kenta Maeda tied to contracts for a couple more seasons, Minnesota’s front office likely feels a need to keep this window of contention open longer.
Pride certainly plays a role in this. They extended these players, undoubtedly because they though they were important assets to a contending franchise, and giving up now would suggest they are wrong. Additionally, getting out from under Donaldson’s contract would exasperate the Twins reputation as a cheap team. Why would players want to sign here if teams can’t be built around them, or they would be traded after only a year and a half?
The Twins are unlikely to do a full tear down at the deadline, or even this offseason. Time will tell if that is a mistake.