The MLB trade deadline might seem far off, but Friday is the first day of July — and the nonwaiver trade deadline is July 31. That means the next month could get plenty busy for the Twins — especially considering that GM Terry Ryan said recently he anticipates the team being active because the Twins are, in his words, "struggling here big-time." Here are five Twins players who could be dealt in the next month for a variety of reasons:
Trevor Plouffe: This is the obvious one. If the Twins are committed to ending the Miguel Sano outfield experiment and returning him to third base, trading Plouffe would free up the position.
Even in the midst of what so far has been a down year, Plouffe would be an upgrade at third for plenty of teams. He has extra-base power to all fields, he's turned himself into a solid fielder, and he's under a reasonable contract ($7.25 million this year, arbitration-eligible in 2017). I don't imagine he would fetch a massive haul in return, but even a modest deal could be a win-win with the right team.
Brian Dozier: With essentially one scorching hot month, the conversation around Dozier has changed from "should the Twins bench him?" to "Dozier his having the best year of his career." His batting average (.264), slugging percentage (.478) and OPS (.824) would all be career highs.
His resurgence has led to an interesting quandary for the Twins: Should they keep Dozier, who is under a team-friendly contract in 2017 and 2018 for $15 million total ($6 million, then $9 million) and recommit to the idea that he's a player to build around when times get better … or should they "sell high" while Dozier is hot, potentially maximizing the return and opening up a position for the quite possibly major league-ready Jorge Polanco at second base?
Kurt Suzuki: Here's another player who has played himself into trade consideration with a hot stretch. After stumbling in April and May, Suzuki has been fantastic in June — posting a .370 batting average and a .984 OPS.
Of the 28 MLB catchers with at least 150 plate appearances this year, Suzuki is sixth in batting average (.279) and ninth in OPS (.738). In the meantime, John Ryan Murphy — who struggled badly with the Twins to start the year after being acquired for Aaron Hicks — has rebounded at Rochester and hit nearly .300 in June with some pop. He could be ready soon for another try in the majors, making Suzuki expendable.
Eduardo Nunez: He's by far the biggest bright spot on this year's Twins and someone who has a great chance to go from bench player to All-Star thanks to a great three months. Nunez has hit for power and average, has very good speed and can play numerous positions. The Twins would seem to be in another great "sell-high" position with Nunez, who is in the midst of a career year and could genuinely help a contender.
Ervin Santana: He's been inconsistent this season, with the numbers adding up to an ugly 2-7 record and 4.64 ERA. Still, Santana has a track record of being effective. His contract ($13.5 million in both 2017 and 2018) would appear to be a stumbling block, but if there is a contender that can add payroll and is desperate for pitching — perhaps any number of teams in the AL East? — he could be a good fit.