One week from today, a lot of questions will be answered. One week from today is the non-waiver trade deadline. The Twins clearly need to be sellers at this point. They are 40-56 record, 16 games under .500 and 12 games behind the AL Central leading Detroit Tigers. They are nowhere near the Wild Card race.
So with one week to go, what do we know? We have to watch what is going on around the rest of baseball to get a sense for what could be going on with the Twins. Some trades are starting to happen and they may (or may not) affect what happens going forward. They may help us project what the Twins could get in return for some of their players.
For instance, the New York Yankees acquired Ichiro Suzuki from the Seattle Mariners in exchange for two minor league relievers. The 38 year old Ichiro is a singles hitter boasted 200 hit seasons and an OPS+ over 100 (100 is considered average) for the first ten years of his MLB career. Last year, his OPS+ was just 88. This year, that number is just 83.
Who knows? Being traded to a contender may spark Ichiro into playing like he did for the first decade. However, the Ichiro Suzuki trade does not give us any indication of what the Twins could get for OF Denard Span. Due to age, salary and years, Span has much, much more value than Ichiro. That said, the Yankees were a team that needed an outfielder, and Span made a lot of sense there. At least for now, this trade does mean there is one less team who will be calling on Span.
Last season, the Tigers added Doug Fister at the trade deadline, and he really helped the Tigers make their playoff run. Yesterday, the Tigers made another huge splash by acquiring right-hander Anibal Sanchez from the Miami Marlins. They likely had to take on the contract of infielder Omar Infante as well. Sanchez is vastly underrated and maybe not a commonly known name yet, but he is a very good pitcher. To be sure, his resume looks a lot better as he is traded than Doug Fister did a year ago.
But the Tigers gave up a lot to get Sanchez. First, they traded 20-year-old future ace Jacob Turner, who has made starts with the Tigers already. Turner came into the season as Baseball America's 22nd ranked prospect. The Tigers also traded AA catching prospect Rob Brantly and Brian Flynn, a 6-8, 22-year-old pitcher who recently was promoted to AA. They didn't have to trade top prospect Nick Castellanos, but Turner and Brantly were both top 5 Tigers prospects by most accounts.
The Cubs were also busy yesterday as there were rumors on deals for both Ryan Dempster and Matt Garza.
The Cubs have agreed to trade Dempster to the Atlanta Braves in a deal that would likely include RHP Randall Delgado. Delgado has been starting for the Braves and came into the season as the #46 prospect according to Baseball America. At this point, Dempster is yet to approve the trade (he has 10-5 rights), but again, this gives us another data point.
There were a lot of rumors of the Cubs and Dodgers discussing a Matt Garza trade in which the Cubs would receive RHP Zach Lee in return. 20 year old Lee was the Dodgers first round pick in 2010 and was recently promoted to AA. He came into the season as the #62 ranked prospect according to Baseball America.
It is looking more and more like Cole Hamels will resign with the Phillies, but Zach Greinke is likely to be traded. What could the Twins get in exchange for lefty Francisco Liriano who, despite last night's clunker, has been one of baseball's best starting pitchers. Based on the package received for Sanchez, and the rumors floating around deals with Dempster and Garza, it is fair for Twins fans to be excited about what the Twins could get in return for Liriano. It appears that the going rate is a pitching prospect who ranks somewhere in the 30-60 range (likely a team's #1 or #2 prospect), along with a second prospect who ranks in that team's Top 10, and maybe even one more player who ranks outside the top ten but still has potential. And if the Twins get an offer like that, they would have to take it!
Finally, the San Diego Padres agreed to a three year, $30 million contract extension with Carlos Quentin. Quentin was frequently rumored to be available and due to his small contract for this season, he was the top right-handed power bat available. As he is no longer available, that makes Twins LF Josh Willingham more and more valuable. The Twins have come out and said that he is not currently available. However, due to a very good contract that goes beyond this season (2 more years at just $14 million), the TWins could get a big haul for their big slugger.
The Twins are said to be asking "for a ton" for Denard Span. If, er, when teams call on Josh Willingham, the Twins should be asking for two tons, and I would not be surprised if there were a team or two willing to give up that much. The Twins should need to be overwhelmed by an offer to trade The Hammer, but it is also very possible that they will be.
So again, there is just one more week before the non-waiver trade deadline. As we know, there can still be deals in August. They're just more difficult to complete. The Twins should be quite active, and they have three players that they should be able to get a good return for. There are other players that could be dealt too. Deals could happen at any time, but paying attention to what is going on throughout baseball may give you perspective on what it could mean for the Twins.