Even in the squishy-soft AL Central, where everyone could be a contender, the Twins are not. They trail by 9 games in a division where the leader is 4 games over .500 and -- despite playing a more watchable brand of baseball in the past month of so (17-15 in their past 32 games after that abysmal 10-26 start) -- they still have the worst record in the American League.
As such, many have concluded the Twins will be sellers over the next month-plus before the end-of-July trading deadline. It seems logical and likely. The part that is far less easy to pin down, however, is who will go and how much they might fetch in return. We posed the question on Twitter: Who is the Twins' best asset in a trade, and what might they expect to get back? Here are some of your answers, along with our assessment of each player/trade possibility:
1) Josh Willingham: He fits the mold of a good asset -- power hitter with a defined role, dependable and under contract at a reasonable rate by today's standards (first year of a 3-year, $21 million deal). That said, all those things make him the kind of guy you want to keep instead of trade -- and that whatever could be garnered in return wouldn't measure up to having his power bat in the lineup at a fair price for 2.5 more seasons.
2) Denard Span: A popular option, and frankly one that makes a lot of sense. Span is a quality MLB leadoff hitter, a good defensive center fielder and the Twins have outfield prospects who could take a shot in his place. The biggest question, though, is how much would come in return. You're not likely to get a quarter for him; instead, you're getting two dimes and a nickel.
3) Justin Morneau: A very intriguing possibility because it would shed salary and allow the team to re-allocate resources. Would the Twins have to take on some of the financial burden in a deal? Maybe. Could they get much back in return? Hard to say, which is the toughest thing to swallow when you consider Morneau is a former MVP whose value has dropped immeasurably. Is it worth it baseball-wise in what could amount to not much more than a salary dump? And how would the move play with fans?
4) Matt Capps: Another logical choice to trade, with Glen Perkins as the closer-in-waiting. What the Twins could get might depend on how much another team covets a PROVEN CLOSER. Could he fetch a power-hitting catching prospect? It has been done before. And consider this: Capps' career ERA with the Twins (3.66) is better than his overall career ERA or his ERA with any other individual team. If you go by that single metric, and why wouldn't you, one could argue this has been Capps' most successful long-term stint in the big leagues. Prospects galore!
5) Francisco Liriano: He is a few more good starts away from actually being a viable candidate to fetch something useful at the deadline. The question is should the Twins wait that long or dangle him 24/7, right this minute, and take the first halfway decent offer?