Indications are that the Twins are looking to add two pitchers before the July 31 trade deadline. That could mean two relievers or one starter and one reliever.
Owners of one of baseball’s best records for the past few weeks, they control their fate in the AL Central and can look to strengthening their roster for a postseason run.
With about a month to go before the deadline, its time to pay more attention to speculation about potential deals. They will continue to examine in-house options (and take fliers on guys like Cody Allen) but it would be an upset if they don’t add at least one pitcher before the deadline.
They could make it easier on everyone — impatient fans as well as broken-down baseball writers — by landing both lefthander Madison Bumgarner and lefthander Will Smith from the San Francisco Giants.
Bumgarner is not the pitcher he was a few years ago, but he is still good and has playoff cache. Smith has emerged from Tommy John surgery in 2017 to become a quality closer with pitches to get lefthanded and righthanded hitters out.
One potential snag is that the Giants believe they could maximize their return if they trade Bumgarner and Smith separately instead of a package deal.
Let’s say that’s the case and the Twins move on Bumgarner knowing they can move Michael Pineda into the bullpen (Pineda’s post-Tommy John workload will inevitably be an issue). The Twins should be able to make that deal without giving up Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff or Brusdar Graterol, their top three prospects.
Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations for the Giants, was the general manager of the Dodgers when they traded for Yu Darvish before the 2017 deadline — and held on to his top prospects. The Twins surely have reminded him of that.
Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine have traded for more than two dozen players since taking over before the 2017 season. Many have been for prospects. The farm system now has plenty of talent to use as tradable commodities and make a deal happen.
“We feel we have amassed the kind of depth in our farm system that allows us to find matches in trades,” Falvey said.
It can be argued that the Twins need relievers more than then do starters, with a bullpen ERA of 4.28 entering Saturday that ranked 14th in baseball. They have checked in on most teams who could have some arms available by the deadline. They prefer relievers they can control for the short term than long term but are open to both.
They have been interested in Toronto closer Ken Giles, who has one year of arbitration remaining. Giles recently came off the injured list due to elbow inflammation. The Twins will continue to monitor him nevertheless.
They also will wait and see which teams will decide to sell before the deadline. The Padres have Kirby Yates, but they are right in the thick of the NL wild-card race. The Nationals have Sean Doolittle, but they are in the same position as the Padres.
The White Sox have Alex Colome and the Tigers have Shane Greene. But interdivision deals are trickier. One division opponent which thinks like the Twins do could be a trade partner — but Cleveland would have to wave the white flag, and the Indians aren’t ready to do that.
That, and many things, could change over the next few weeks as the Twins track an ever-evolving pitching market.
La Velle E. Neal III covers the Twins for the Star Tribune. Twitter: @LaVelleNeal