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Sport 5 players the Minnesota Twins should trade to complete their fire sale

08:26  25 july  2021
08:26  25 july  2021 Source:   fansided.com

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Trading Nelson Cruz is a start, but the Minnesota Twins should trade these five players to complete their deadline fire sale.

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There may be no more disappointing team in baseball this year than the Minnesota Twins. Expectations for a run at a third straight AL Central title have dissolved into a 41-56 record and being 17.5 games back of the Chicago White Sox entering Friday.

The Twins are a clear trade deadline seller, even if they may be hesitant to be one under the idea they can be competitive again in 2022. Thursday brought a start to a sell-off though, as Nelson Cruz is on his way to the Tampa Bay Rays. But Derek Falvey and Thad Levine should not be done, if the right opportunities are out there.

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Even if the Twins don't want to trade anyone who has contract term left beyond this season, they have players contenders should be interested in. Virtually no one should be off-limits, regardless of time left on contract, looming extensions, etc., but deals have to be right too.

Here are five players the Twins should trade to complete their fire sale.

5 more players the Minnesota Twins should trade before the deadline.

After finishing as AL Cy Young runner-up in 2020, Maeda has had a fairly rough 2021 campaign (4.63 ERA over 16 starts-79.2 innings). But he has pitched well of late, with a 2.35 ERA, 31 strikeouts and just four walks over four July starts (23 innings).

According to Kevin Acee of the San Diego Union Tribune, the Padres reportedly have had talks with the Twins about Maeda. He's under contract for $3.125 million a year through 2023, and he's no stranger to the National League (and the NL West) from his time with the Dodgers.

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With how well he's pitching lately, the Twins have a potential sell-high opportunity on Maeda. The two-plus years of team control he has left at a bargain rate could bring a surprisingly solid return.

The Twins fortified their infield defense by signing Simmons to a one-year deal last offseason, and his offensive production has generally gone underrated due to his elite level defensively. So far, he hasn't done either thing particularly well this season (.592 OPS, -1.0 UZR). But he would only be a rental for a contender, and perhaps a change of scenery would benefit him.

Part of the issue for the Twins has been finding room in the lineup for Nick Gordon. Byron Buxton's absence has opened up center field for the former first-round pick in his first taste of the big leagues, but even with that he's only started 11 games since June 15. He's also a middle infielder by trade.

Signing Simmons allowed the Twins to move Jorge Polanco to second base, where he's not as much of a detriment defensively. But Polanco's value is driven by his bat anyway, so if he were moved back to short full-time for the rest of the season it wouldn't move the needle. When it comes down to it, the Twins should not care about marginal difference in defensive value in a losing season.

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Simmons would still be a fit for the Twins if they were going anywhere this year. But at this point, he's primarily a barrier to getting a full look at Gordon for 2022 and beyond. Trading him will be easy, if there's any interest out there.

Around a couple stints on the IL, Pineda has a 3.93 ERA over 13 starts this season with solid peripherals (7.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9, 50.8 percent ground ball rate, 4.29 FIP). The idea he'll ever become a top-end starter is long, long gone at 32 years old, but he's a capable middle to back-end of the rotation arm when healthy. Teams looking at that type of guy (the Philadelphia Phillies come to mind) could be interested.

Pineda is in the final year of his contract, at $10 million. The Twins may have to eat some of the remaining money he's owed to move him on more easily, but taking that fully on shouldn't be a deal breaker for any interested teams either. It's not as if the Twins would suddenly get a top-50 overall prospect by paying the remainder of his salary for the year.

If the Twins only want to trade rental players, Pineda is in that bullseye and he has been ever since this season started to go off the rails for them. Pitching is always in demand at the deadline, and Pineda will get one more showcase opportunity early next week against the Detroit Tigers.

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Over the last two seasons, since a breakout 2019 as part of the "Bomba Squad" (36 home runs, 90 RBI, .519 slugging percentage, .855 OPS), Kepler is hitting .223/.314/.448 with 21 home runs over 452 plate appearances. But in July (17 games entering Friday), he has six home runs and a .982 OPS over 64 plate appearances. Overall this season, his hard hit rate (according to Baseball Reference) is at his 2019 level (and a career-best). According to Statcast, he's in the 75th percentile or better in hard hit rate, average exit velocity, max exit velocity and barrel rate this season.

2019 Hard Hit Rate: 47.2%

2021 Hard Hit Rate: 47.4%

Kepler is a versatile outfielder, able to play both corners well and centerfield capably as it's been needed when Buxton misses time every year. FanGraphs has ranked him as a top-45 most valuable trade deadline asset in baseball each of the last two years.

The Twins may consider Kepler off-limits in trade talks, since he's under contract through 2023 with a club option for 2024. But that would be a foolish stance to take on anyone at this point, and any seriously optimistic view of Kepler's future feels like a low-percentage chance projection as he moves toward 30 years old (28 right now).

After a rough 2020, at least on the surface (4.05 ERA, 2.84 FIP), Rogers earned a spot on the AL All-Star roster with a 54:8 K/BB ratio in the first half this year. He has a 3.43 ERA overall, over 38 appearances, with eight saves in 12 chances as well as eight holds.

It's worth noting that two of Rogers' blown saves came in back-to-back outings on each side of the All-Star break. So the wheels may be starting to come off a little. But he's a high-strikeout, low-walk reliever, with sub-2.0 BB/9 rates in three seasons running. A ground ball-heavy tilt to his the batted balls he allows (49.5 percent this year) is helpful to his success (and his trade value).

Rogers is arbitration-eligible for the final time this winter. So the Twins may not part with him willingly in a trade if they hold to their reported stance (or leverage play) regarding those with any team control left. But he's a late-inning reliever, on a team that won't be winning many games. So the reality is he's a prime trade candidate, and a trade asset to be cashed in if there's a chance.

There's a bit of risk to pitching Rogers a lot over the next week, though he did not allow a run in his most recent outing going into Friday. But if he's is still a Twin after the trade deadline passes, they've done it wrong upon almost surely turning away interest from multiple teams.

US must re-engage in trade .
As the global community becomes more close-knit, it is critical for the Biden administration to re-engage our country in international trade with a long-term vision that benefits American workers and consumers. Kent Kaiser, Ph.D., is executive director of the Trade Alliance to Promote Prosperity. More information is available at www.promote-trade.org.

usr: 6
This is interesting!