It’s officially July, and the Twins are unofficially running out of time to make something positive of their season.
If current trends hold and a season of promise continues to be underwhelming (at best), the Twins figure to trade some of their impending free agents before the nonwaiver trade deadline at the end of this month.
So the question before us is this: If the Twins do end up being “sellers,” which veteran on their roster would be the most enticing bait — and therefore fetch the most value in a trade even as a two-month rental?
First take: Michael Rand
Twins fans might not want to hear this because of how popular he is, but I think the answer is Eduardo Escobar. And I think the Twins should seriously consider trading him.
Escobar’s production might never be better than it is right now. His .877 OPS entering Saturday is more than 150 points higher than his career average. He will be a free agent in 2019 and will turn 30 before next season starts.
He’s a switch hitter who can play three infield positions and can fill in as an outfielder in a pinch. Compare that to righthanded-hitting second baseman Brian Dozier and Escobar has far more versatility. I could see plenty of teams coveting him, and I could see the Twins listening intently.
Chris Hine: You’re not wrong. Escobar, who had a solid 1.7 wins above replacement entering Saturday, meets all the criteria of being an attractive trade candidate. If the Twins move him they can still try to re-sign him if they choose. But let’s say the Twins keep him. Who else might teams want?
*Thinks about it*
*Squints long and hard at the roster*
I’m going to say Fernando Rodney. Teams in pennant races are always on the lookout for bullpen help and Rodney might be more attractive than, say, a struggling Lance Lynn. Ideally for the Twins, Lynn has a solid couple of starts in July and the Twins can shop him around saying, “See, he’s fixed now!” But I think Rodney and his solid performance this season combined with a movable salary makes him the most movable player.
Rand: I think overall we have named four movable players so far, and I would include solid lefty reliever Zach Duke as well. That so many of the Twins veterans are free agents this offseason and have achieved high levels of past success means they could be very active making deals this month.
But they only have one real opportunity to sell at the peak. That’s with Escobar.
Hine: If you’re going to sell, might as well sell hard. If Escobar gets the biggest return, don’t hold on to him because he’s a fan and clubhouse favorite. It might be hard to take at the time, but it’d be prudent for the future of the franchise.
Rand: And if Escobar makes the All-Star Game — he’s a legitimate threat given his numbers this year — he almost has to get traded. It would be the third year in a row the Twins traded an All-Star from that season shortly after the game, joining Eduardo Nunez (2016) and Brandon Kintzler (2017).
Last word: Chris Hine
The writing is on the wall. For his sake, maybe the Twins will trade him to a team with a doubles-friendly park.
More Rand: startribune.com/RandBall
More Hine: startribune.com/NorthScore