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Making the case for the Twins to be sellers at the MLB trade deadline

After going all-in for 2020, is it time to look ahead to 2021?
Rocco Baldelli

The Minnesota Twins came into the 2020 season with major expectations and this past offseason, they acted like it. They shelled out the largest free-agent contract in franchise history to Josh Donaldson. They sent top prospect Brusdar Graterol to the Dodgers to get Kenta Maeda. Long story short, they went all-in.

But as Monday's MLB trade deadline approaches, the dreams of a World Series title may have gone out the window. With the Twins on a five-game losing streak, the Twins should sell at the deadline and shift their focus toward 2021.

This sounds insane considering the Twins are 1.5 games out of the lead in the American League Central and are in prime position to get a playoff spot. With the anticipated returns of Donaldson, Michael Pineda, and Byron Buxton in the coming days, you could also argue it's just like making a trade and they'll be fine. But that's only part of the story.

At the top of the list of concerns is (surprise!) the starting rotation. While Maeda has been a pleasant surprise, Jose Berrios has struggled to live up to his de facto "ace" status and as Twins Daily's Matthew Lenz pointed out, Randy Dobnak has been successful on a smoke and mirrors basis.

With fans fearing if Rich Hill will be able to make his next start and Jake Odorizzi struggling to stay off the injured list, the Twins have been in the hunt for a starting pitcher and have been connected to Dylan Bundy and Lance Lynn.

But that brings up the Twins' recent history at the trade deadline. With the front office clutching their prospects with a death grip, the odds of deciding that the cost is too rich will likely override improving the team, which in this case is the correct decision.

Think about it this way. The Twins have played 35 games this season. At that point last year, Martin Perez was 5-0 with a 2.83 ERA. From that point on, he reverted back to his old form, going 5-7 with a 5.88 ERA. 

Imagine if the Twins coughed up several prospects to land Bundy, whose current 2.47 ERA is nearly two runs lower than his career mark of 4.53. The Twins would not only have given up a ransom to win in a gimmick-laden season but also could also wind up being stuck with an average pitcher heading into 2021.

That brings up the season that the Twins are currently stuck in. The 60-game season was bad enough, but MLB has turned it into an ever-adapting mess. With seven-inning doubleheaders, runners on second during extra innings and a playoff format that would assuredly see the Yankees gleefully pick the Twins as their first-round opponent if they don't win the AL Central, is it worth betting the farm on this?

The best move may be for the Twins to follow what their nemesis, the Yankees, did back in 2016. As the Bombers were fading from the playoff picture, they sent Aroldis Chapman to the Cubs in exchange for a haul of prospects that included Gleyber Torres and fueled their current run as the team to beat in the American League.

While the Twins don't have a highly coveted piece such as Chapman, they could dangle Eddie Rosario or even Nelson Cruz to pave the way for an even bigger move to load up for 2021 when there aren't as many gimmicks.

By looking toward the future, the Twins could also play some of their prospects including Alex Kirilloff, Jhoan Duran, and others to get some major league experience under their belt prior to next season.

This seems harsh and a complete knee-jerk decision after the Twins' first five-game losing streak in two years, but it feels like going all-in for this season just isn't worth it for where this team needs to be.

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