Twins’ sell-off has a purpose, but it’s still guesswork

July 31, 2018 GMT

Good thing Major League Baseballs trade deadline happens Tuesday. The Twins are running out of veterans to purge.

Brian Dozier is probably next. And maybe more. The clubhouse has a revolving door attached to it right now.

The Twins front office waved the white flag by initiating a fire sale that involves unloading veterans in order to stockpile prospects. As of Monday night, four trades had fetched nine minor leaguers in return, and baseball bosses Derek Falvey and Thad Levine probably arent finished reshaping the roster in a youth movement.

Falvey and Levine are acting like the two Duke brothers at the end of the movie Trading Places when they realize theyve been duped out of their fortune.


Sell! Sell! Sell!

If 2016 served as the organizations Total System Failure, this season represents a Total Stopgap Failure.

The Falvine Regime, perhaps reluctantly, attempted to reward the team after a 26-win improvement last season by bolstering, in theory, the roster with a crop of veterans on rental deals. Their plan backfired.

So now Falvine has commenced a new plan that makes sense in conception but offers no guarantees of a meaningful payoff.

The organization suddenly finds itself in a weird, transitional spot after reaching the one-game wild card last season. The Twins are not close to being a contender, but its hard to know if the front office privately views this as a long, slow rebuild.

Look at the lineup Monday night against Cleveland. Of the eight position players, who looks like a sure bet in terms of predicting with confidence future performance?

Theres left fielder Eddie Rosario and . who else?

Miguel Sano? No clue. Dozier likely will either be traded or leave in free agency. Joe Mauers future is unknown. Shortstop Jorge Polanco and right fielder Max Kepler have shown flashes but still have a lot to prove. Catcher is up in the air. Byron Buxton remains in the minors and has yet to prove that he can stay healthy or hit big-league pitching consistently.

Turnover in the pitching staff is inevitable, too.

The decision to bring in veteran help this offseason wasnt misguided. The front office just targeted the wrong guys and/or those veterans underperformed. They were never viewed as long-term pieces.

Too many players and not just the newcomers have had unproductive seasons so its hard to blame the front office for losing faith and deciding to punt on the rest of the season.


Now the narrative again returns to hoping and wishing about the future. It feels like another Get to know em campaign is upcoming.

Levine noted that four of the five prospects acquired over the weekend will crack the organizations list of top 30 prospects.

Thats meaningful, he said. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.

Maybe. Maybe not.

Buxton and Sano provide cautionary tales about becoming intoxicated by potential. They were billed as generational prospects and the Twins still have no idea what their ceiling will be. That doesnt mean Falvines plan is flawed or the wrong course of action, but nobody really knows how this will play out.

Predicting future success of Class A-level prospects is pure guesswork. Trading Lance Lynn and Zach Duke even Eduardo Escobar, as painful and unpopular as that was in a lost season is worth the risk.

The development of Buxton and Sano remains the most important part of this whole blueprint. The organization cant go 0-for-2 on those two cornerstones and pretend the impact would be minimal.

Sanos physical appearance upon return from his midseason boot camp provides a dose of encouragement. His body looks noticeably different after shedding 20 pounds.

Sano doubled and singled in first two at-bats Monday after striking out five times in his first seven plate appearances after rejoining the team.

Good things are coming, he said.

He was talking about himself. The organization hopes a flurry of trades will produce the same result. In both cases, wait-and-see has become the template again.

Chip Scoggins chip.scoggins@startribune.com