Why the Twins front office missed the perfect opportunity

The 2019 trade deadline was the perfect time to make a splash.
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The MLB trade deadline has passed and the Twins came away with another reliever in Sam Dyson from the San Francisco Giants, who had a less than stellar debut against the Marlins on Thursday.

Dyson, as well as the recently acquired Sergio Romo, was all the adding Minnesota felt they needed to do.

Meanwhile the Houston Astros – arguably the best team in the league – came away with former Cy Young winner Zack Greinke, who will be behind Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, while parting with its third, fourth and fifth best prospects. 

They gave up a lot, which is something the Twins had the power to do, even if it wouldn't have been for Greinke, who reportedly had the Twins included in his no-trade clause. 

Minnesota boasts one of the best prospect pools (8th by MLB.com) in all of baseball and if that's all Greinke cost – plus a significant salary, of which the Diamondbacks covered some of – the new-ish Twins' front office didn't come through on their end.

Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey told a gaggle of reporters just before the deadline that owner Jim Pohlad approved an increase in payroll on the idea of adding a player with a heftier contract and that no prospect was untouchable.

Only one of the three players acquired in the Houston-Arizona trade was a top-100 prospect and that was Seth Beer, who's exactly the 100th-best prospect in the MLB.

Meanwhile, the Twins have five of the top 100 prospects in baseball. 

  1. Royce Lewis (No. 7)
  2. Alex Kirilloff (No. 16
  3. Brusader Graterol (No. 58)
  4. Jordan Balazovic (No. 82)
  5. Trevor Larnach (No. 97)

However, the Twins were reportedly linked to starting pitchers like Marcus Stroman, Madison Bumgarner, Robbie Ray, Zack Wheeler, Matthew Boyd and even Noah Syndergaard.

When asked about the price of Ray, who's a strikeout machine in Arizona, MLB Insider Jayson Stark told SKOR North (1500-AM) the Diamondbacks were looking for three prospects in return.

"Robbie Ray's price was your best big-league ready prospect and two other prospects. So a guy you could plug in the big leagues right now."

Well let's assume Luis Arraez was the big-league ready piece plus Balazovic and Larnach. Arraez is hitting .357 in 42 games which probably isn't sustainable, plus with how good the Twins' lineup has been this season he's expendable.

That means your top three prospects in Lewis, Kirilloff and Graterol would've remained in the system and the Twins would've drastically improved the starting rotation, not only this year for a big playoff push, but for 2020 as well. 

Meanwhile, Arizona would get exactly what they were looking for while also receiving two top-100 prospects.

Following the trade deadline, Dan Hayes of The Athletic reported on Thursday that teams who had rentals (like San Francisco with Bumgarner and reliever Will Smith) were asking about Arraez.

Even when the Mets acquired Stroman, who was another candidate who could've helped the Twins, the price of admission was New York's fourth- and sixth-best prospects.

Again, if that's what the market was commanding for two front-line starting pitchers, the Twins just struck out twice with the bases loaded.

Maybe the Mets were asking too much for Noah Syndergaard, but Ray, Bumgarner, Wheeler and Boyd were other targets Minnesota could have bolstered their rotation with.

I'm of the belief that Lewis and Kirilloff will end up being big-time contributors to the Twins at some point down the road, so I understand if they were untouchable. But how long have fans been told to sit back and wait a couple of years when the prospects now help turn the Twins into the team to beat?

Minnesota's window for a deep playoff run is wide open after a phenomenal start to the 2019 season.

But now the Cleveland Indians are breathing down their necks in the division and even though the New York Yankees and Astros might be more established, this was a chance to make a statement that they're going to be the team to beat in October.

Right now they are on the cusp of being the team to beat. This franchise (and this state as a whole) hasn't seen a championship parade that isn't for the Lynx in almost 30 years. 

When Falvey and Levine were hired, they were two executives who had never worked in the Twins organization before. They were tasked with turning around a team that seemed to be stuck in the dark ages when it came to scouting, analytics, etc.

And even though they've done an excellent job of improving those departments, this trade deadline was a chance to break the mold of vanilla-based moves.

Instead, they seem to be putting more focus at looking beyond this season (which yes, is still part of the job) instead of addressing the here and now.

Maybe Falvey and Levine will end up having the last laugh that they were indeed in the right to add just two above-average (but not elite) relievers as the final piece to a playoff run.

But as someone who's defended these two tooth and nail during their short tenure, the trade deadline was incredibly disappointing.

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