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The Twins knew that they had weaknesses. They’ve known since the beginning of the season. They added Chris Paddack to try to shore up the rotation, and he pitched well before he got hurt. They knew they were going to need more late-inning bullpen options. They also saw that the White Sox were underperforming and had a chance to make a significant playoff push. So, when it was all said and done, they had the most aggressive trade deadline in Minnesota Twins history.
First up, the rotation. With Paddack, Kenta Maeda, Bailey Ober, and Josh Winder all out with injuries, the Twins needed a starter who they could rely on every five games to give them a good outing. Tyler Mahle is exactly that. In exchange for Mahle, the Twins gave up Spencer Steer (the Twins’ 7th ranked prospect), Steve Hajjar (11th), and Christian Encarnacion-Strand (14th). It’s a lot to give up for a year and a half of Mahle, but Steer and CES were going to have a tough road to playing time in MN. Gio Urshela is under team control for another year, while José Miranda, Luis Arraez, and Jorge Polanco are each long term pieces vying for time at second and third, the prospect’s best positions.
The most important pieces the Twins needed at the deadline were bullpen help, and they might have gotten the best reliever available in Jorge López. After beginning his career as an unsuccessful starter, López transitioned to the bullpen and has been lights out ever since. He will immediately step in as the Twins closer, allowing Jhoan Duran to be used in a fireman role whenever he’s needed. In exchange for López, the Twins gave up Yennier Cano, Cade Povich (the Twins’ 22nd ranked prospect), Juan Nuñez (unranked), and Juan Rojas (unranked). To give up that little for an elite closer who won’t be a free agent until 2024 is an absolute coup for Minnesota.
Also acquired to bolster the bullpen: Michael Fulmer. Fulmer also began his career as a starter, winning AL Rookie of the Year in 2016 with the Detroit Tigers. Injuries and ineffectiveness eventually made him transition to the bullpen, where he has been solid, if unspectacular. However, that is a distinct upgrade over almost everyone in the Twins’ current bullpen. To acquire half a season of Fulmer’s service, the Twins gave up Sawyer Gipson-Long, a 24-year-old SP who has been largely ineffective, and has barely pitched above High A.
When it’s all said and done, the Twins gave up a lot of prospects, but largely dealt from areas of strength to drastically improve a needy pitching staff. The deadline was the most aggressive in Twins history, but I think it’s also bound to be the most successful. That earns an easy A grade in my book.
Now, let your voice be heard. How would you grade the Twins’ trade deadline moves?