The Twins are having a pretty bad year. This isn’t the first time, and it surely won’t be the last. Certainly, expectations were higher ahead of this bad season than they often are, but as many of us are coming to realize, the immediate future may be brighter than we think after initially looking at the abysmal picture in the standings.
I was recently talking to a friend about all the potential trade bait at the deadline, and we came up with 11 names that would be legitimate “assets” that a contender might acquire, and a team waiving the white flag might give up. That sounds like an active month of July is ahead!
But then we thought further. Eleven players is nearly half of the roster. Sure some of the 11 are going to be free agents after this year anyway, however some of the names that aren’t being traded is because they are supposed to be part of the team’s luminous future. Without getting too deep into the weeds, suffice it to say that there is still the core of a good team here. Some of those tradeable assets might find themselves with a contender next season: The Minnesota Twins.
While this is certainly an optimistic view, it could be the opinion of the front office as well. This team, this largely unchanged team from 2019 and 2020, has won divisional championships, and is still young.
A lot of the downtrodden opinion of the Twins surrounds players who have signed extensions. There is a belief that these moves were missteps in the long term team building strategy of the organization, but that is a shortsighted, pessimistic opinion.
LaTroy Hawkins recently served as a manager in the All Star Futures game, and should serve as a reminder that there is life in your late 20s and 30s. Hawkins was a disaster through the early part of his career, until he was moved into the bullpen, and started piecing things together. His first solid year earned him some saves in 2000, his 6th year in the league. He regressed the following season, but was then an electric set up man for the next two.
His first good season, so to speak, was when he was 27. That bad year was age 28. After that, he had his best years, which were followed by another decade as a good, sometimes great player. Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano, all under contract, are all 28 this year. Kepler and Sano are definitely slumping this year, but have shown flashes of brilliance.
This isn’t to say that the Twins contracted core will be back and amazing next year, but rather that they were extended because the Twins believed in their talent. Like LaTroy Hawkins, it can take some players time to find their footing, and when they do, they might be inconsistent. While the Twins are struggling this year, especially with players counted on to carry them for several years, they have afforded themselves and their players more chances to prove themselves.