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Will Twins protect prospects while Astros, Yankees beef up pitching?

Pressure is on in the playoff race and the trade deadline looms.

The Twins have one of the best prospect pools in the MLB, but will they be willing to part with some of them in order to obtain high-end starting pitchers or relievers that might otherwise be traded to the Yankees or Astros?

It might happen, and we'll never know for sure if the Twins are digging in deep trying to get the players the Yankees and Astros are trying to get (reportedly), but it'll be painful for Twins fans if Minnesota doesn't do more than trade for Sergio Romo, who is a very good late-inning reliever. 

Now just a day away from Wednesday's 3 p.m. trade deadline, the rumor mill is going crazy with reports that the Astros are undoubtedly going to get one of the high-end starting pitchers on the trade market. 

We're talking about reports saying the Astros are talking to the Giants about Madison Bumgarner, to the Indians about Trevor Bauer, to the Tigers about Matthew Boyd, to the Diamondbacks about Robbie Ray, and to the Mets about Zack Wheeler. 

While the Astros appear poised to give up whatever it takes to add to a pitching staff that already has All-Stars Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole, and a lights-out bullpen, the Twins reportedly balked at the Mets' desire to have Byron Buxton included in any trade package for right-handed ace Noah Syndergaard. 

In fact, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported that Minnesota has since switched its focus to upgrading the bullpen, or as he writes, the Twins "seem comfortable with their rotation."

Twins starters aren't as good as AL playoff contenders

If the playoffs started today, the teams to make the AL playoffs would include division winners, the Yankees, Twins, and Astros, while the Indians and Athletics would meet in the wild-card game, as they're just ahead of the Rays and Red Sox. 

Minnesota can send Jose Berrios to the mound in the playoffs with moderate confidence, but after that there are massive consistency issues with Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Kyle Gibson and Martin Perez. In a five-game playoff series, that's a bit unnerving. 

Outside of the Athletics, the Astros, Yankees, Indians, Rays and Red Sox either have a couple of playoff-tested arms or big-time superstars.

Imagine a Houston team with Verlander, Cole and either Bumgarner, Wheeler, Bauer, Boyd or Ray. That's as nasty as it gets. 

Cleveland could trade Bauer and still have a big-time trio with Mike Clevinger, Corey Kluber and Shane Bieber. With Bauer, unless he's pitching to Max Kepler, they've got the deepest rotation in the majors. 

New York is reportedly having a frustrating time trying to trade for a high-end starting pitcher, but even if they don't they still have tested arms in Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and C.C. Sabathia, not to mention hard-throwing youngster Domingo German. 

The Rays have last year's Cy Young winner, Blake Snell, and a candidate to win the Cy Young this year, Charlie Morton. 

Boston has Chris Sale, Rick Porcello and David Price, along with emerging lefty, Eduardo Rodriguez. 

Make no mistake, the Twins might be satisfied with what the rotation has done this season, but it's not in the same ballpark as the teams they could face in the postseason. 

Is holding onto coveted prospects who might be good in the big leagues for years to come more important than making a run with one of the best teams the Twins have had since winning the World Series in 1991? 

I say no, but that's up to Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and the Pohlads. 

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