Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have made plenty of trades during their tenure of leading the Twins front office. The series of transactions surrounding Jaime Garcia in 2017 is one of the oddities of baseball history and is the focus of this look back at Falvey and Levine era trades.
Last week we took a look at what may be the most successful trade, as of the moment, that the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine led front office has completed. This week we will take a look at not only their strangest sequence of transactions but one of the oddities in the history of baseball.
On July 24, 2017, the Twins felt as they were enough in the race for the postseason that they needed to bolster their rotation. That led them to send Huascar Ynoa to the Atlanta Braves for Jaime Garcia, Anthony Recker, and cash.
On July 28, 2017, Garcia would start for the Twins and go 6 2/3 innings, allowed three runs, three walks, and issued seven strikeouts and led the Twins to a win. All is good for Garcia in Minnesota right? All except that was the only game they won in the time he was a Minnesota Twin.
The drop in the standings resulted in another trade of Garcia, this time to the New York Yankees from whom the Twins received Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns. For those playing along the Twins essentially traded Ynoa for Recker, Littell, Enns, and cash.
Now Recker didn’t really ever do anything for the Twins. He played 19 games at Rochester and slashed .286/.333/.414 before being granted free agency at the end of the season. Enns was brought to the Twins with the likely hope that he would be an option for the back end of the rotation. After four innings in the majors in 2017, Enns spent 2018 in the organization but spent 2019 with the Padres.
That leaves Littell as the only player standing from that package. It has been well noted throughout 2019 the breakout that Littell had after moving from starting to the bullpen. His 2.68 ERA over 37 innings was an effective part of the emergent Twins bullpen. That alone gives the weird events of the trade a positive mark.
We won’t truly be able to evaluate this trade from a value standpoint for several years since Ynoa is still only 21-years-old and just made his major league debut this season (even if it was only four innings). One thing that seems evident is that the Braves have already decided that Ynoa isn’t going to be able to stick as a starter and has been moved to what appears to be a full-time relief role.
Ynoa has the raw stuff with four pitches and good velocity that he very well could still develop into a weapon for the Braves out of their bullpen. As young as Ynoa is there is plenty of time for him to make all Twins fans wish he was in our team's pen at some point.
Ultimately this trade receives an incomplete grade. I am inclined to think that unless Ynoa develops in the next Aroldis Chapman as a closer this is ultimately a good sequence of moves for the Twins. Littell was a valuable part of this year’s bullpen and without his contribution who knows if 101 wins would have become a reality.
It may end up being a trade of immediate results for long term results. A trade-off contending teams need to do at times.
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