No, the Twins aren't in the playoffs this year after making it three of the previous four seasons. That's what happens when you finish in last place.
But tune into any playoff game in this round — the American League Division Series began Thursday, and the National League Division Series open Friday — and you're bound to see an ex-Twin or two. Or even more than that. That's because every one of the eight teams playing in the Division Series has at least one former Twins player on the active roster, and six of the eight have at least two.
We'll start in the American League, which opened with Lance Lynn on the mound for the White Sox in a 6-1 loss to Houston. Lynn pitched four mostly forgettable months with the Twins in 2018. At the back end of the Chicago pitching staff is another All-Star righthander, Liam Hendriks, whose path from journeyman starter to top-end closer began with the Twins in 2011 after they had signed him out of Australia four years earlier.
The Twins dealt away Lynn on July 30, 2018, as part of a white flag-waving roster purge. That purge began three days earlier with two trades, one of which was sending Ryan Pressly to the Astros. With the Twins, Pressly was a Rule 5 pick from Boston that stuck in 2013 and gradually turned into a reliable back-end reliever. Since joining the Astros, he has become a two-time All-Star who has earned 43 saves after earning a grand total of one in six seasons with the Twins. Pressly was briefly teammates here with Jason Castro, the veteran catcher that the Twins signed from Houston. This year, Castro returned to the Astros as a backup. The Astros also have two more fairly prominent former Twins on their taxi squad: righthander Jake Odorizzi, whose first season in Houston was dragged down by injury, and utility player Marwin Gonzalez, the former Astros postseason hero who returned to Houston after getting released by Boston in August.
The Red Sox have plenty of ex-Twins without Gonzalez, though. There are three on Boston's 40-man roster and all three made the 26-man Division Series roster: Danny Santana, the former Twins shortstop-turned-utility player who was one of 12 Red Sox players to test positive for COVID-19 in September; Martin Perez, the lefthander who got off to a strong start with the Twins in 2019 before faltering in the second half; and Hansel Robles, who when last seen with the Twins was giving up a tying grand slam in the ninth inning. Since joining the Red Sox in July, Robles had a 7.94 ERA in his first 11⅓ innings but a 0.00 ERA in his past 14⅔, including a perfect inning in Tuesday's wild-card game victory.
The Red Sox lost Thursday to another team with three ex-Twins on the active roster. AL East champion Tampa Bay traded for Nelson Cruz in July, and on Thursday the 41-year-old became the second-oldest player to hit a postseason homer in major league history, albeit on a ball that didn't even leave the ballpark; rather, it hit one of the rings that hang above Tropicana Field, one that's so far from the plate that any ball that hits it is automatically declared a home run. In the Rays bullpen are two ex-Twins righthanders that the Rays acquired during the season. J.T. Chargois was a Twins second-round pick in 2012 who made his debut with the Twins in 2016 and was dealt from Seattle to the Rays in July. And Matt Wisler, whom the Twins decided not to keep last offseason despite his 1.07 ERA in 2020, had a 2.17 ERA with the Rays, who acquired him in June after he posted a 6.05 ERA with San Francisco before getting designated for assignment.
Speaking of the Giants, they held on to two other recently rejected Twins that helped San Francisco win the NL West with a major league-best 107 victories. LaMonte Wade Jr. was squeezed out of a crowded Twins outfield and traded in February for reliever Shaun Anderson. Anderson was waived by the last=place Twins in June (and then waived again by last-place Texas in July, and then waived again by last-place Baltimore in August), while Wade transformed into Late Night LaMonte because of his otherworldly hitting in the ninth inning and later (16-for-28 with a home run and 14 RBI, a .571 batting average). The Giants also have Zack Littell, who had an encouraging 2019 in the Twins bullpen, only to be outrighted off the 40-man roster after six poor outings in 2020. With San Francisco he has made 63 relief appearances, third-most on the team, with a 2.92 ERA.
The Giants are playing the rival Dodgers, whose 106 victories were only good enough to get them into a win-or-go-home wild-card game. Brusdar Graterol needed only five pitches to get through three batters in the sixth inning of that game. The former Twins top pitching prospect, traded for Kenta Maeda in 2020, spent some time in the minors in 2021 and posted a 4.59 ERA for Los Angeles.
The other NL team with only one ex-Twin is NL Central champion Milwaukee, which features Eduardo Escobar. With the Twins, the popular Venezuelan went from a little-used utility infielder — acquired from the White Sox for Francisco Liriano — to a player who could play all over the diamond and hit for power from both sides of the plate. That made him an asset that the Twins could move, and they did to Arizona on July 27, 2018, the same day they dealt Pressly. The Diamondbacks, in turn, traded their lone 2021 All-Star to the Brewers in July.
It was a particularly active trade deadline this year, and Atlanta remade its entire outfield. One of the players the Braves got was Eddie Rosario, whom the Twins deemed too pricey to retain last offseason. That decision looked good as Rosario had three mostly nondescript months before getting injured with Cleveland. Atlanta acquired him July 30, but he didn't make his debut for his new team until Aug. 28. But he made an impact with his bat, with seven home runs and 16 RBI in 33 games. (And with his glove as well, but not in a good way: He had a couple of errors in left field.) Before August, one of the players the Braves used as an outfielder was Ehire Adrianza. He was mostly an infielder with the Twins from 2017 to 2020 but started 16 games in the outfield this season.