OAKLAND, CALIF. – Less than a week after trading for veteran pitcher Jaime Garcia to help in their postseason chase, the Twins now have a different objective.
With less than 48 hours before Major League Baseball’s 3 p.m. Monday nonwaiver trade deadline, the Twins are looking to add players who can help them in the future, with indications that they are willing to move veterans if the price is right. The evolving strategy comes after a four-game losing streak this past week put them six games out of first place Cleveland in the AL Central and four games out of the second wild-card spot.
Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine have tried to fill both needs — the present and future — during this month of negotiations. But now the duo, in their first year running the Twins, firmly has the future in mind.
“We felt the Jaime Garcia move at the time was a good baseball trade,” Levine said Saturday of the lefthander, acquired from Atlanta on Monday. “The unfortunate reality is that the landscape for us has changed meaningfully since we have made that deal. But I don’t think that diminished that we thought it was a good deal and a smart move at the time to help propel our team forward.
“I think that the moves that we are contemplating now probably have a little bit more of a medium- to longer-term view. We want to stay as competitive as we can in 2017, but we’re cognizant of where we were heading into the season and what we see this franchise moving forward.
“Our goal is to try to keep the window to win open as long as we possibly can. If we can accomplish trades that help and assist in that manner, we’re going to be open to that.”
Garcia could be traded to achieve that goal after starting only once for his new team. He gave up three runs in 6⅔ innings Friday night, when the Twins beat Oakland 6-3. The Dodgers and Yankees have inquired about Garcia, while the Red Sox have been in touch with the Twins as they seek help for their rotation and bullpen.
The Garcia market is expected to crystallize in the hours before the deadline, as teams that don’t land the top available arms, such as Oakland’s Sonny Gray, Texas’ Yu Darvish and Miami’s Dan Straily, are expected to step up interest in him.
“Those types of players hold up the market,” Levine said. “I think there’s a lot teams lining up what they’re collectively looking at somewhere between their Plan B and Plan E.”
The Twins are expected to listen to offers on other established players, such as All-Star pitchers Ervin Santana and Brandon Kintzler and second baseman Brian Dozier. The market for those players has not been very robust.
Santana, 11-7 with a 3.37 ERA, has struggled in recent outings, is 34 and has one year left on his contract, plus an option for 2019. Dozier entered Saturday batting .249 with 16 homers and 51 RBI, solid but not eye-opening numbers after he hit 42 homers in 2016. Kintzler earned his 28th save of the season Friday, his 45th since becoming Twins closer in June 2016, but clubs view the All-Star as a setup man on a good team.
Twins manager Paul Molitor knows he has some players who follow trade rumors closely and some who ignore the chatter. He hasn’t had to address his team during this time, but he is aware some players might be unhappy if the deadline comes and goes with the Twins subtracting instead of adding.
“If something were to unfold along those lines,” Molitor said, “that would have to be addressed with the team.”