So how should the Twins line up their outfielders next season?
Could go with the hockey approach: three forwards, two defenders and a goalie. Or the basketball lineup: Play five at a time and bring a couple off the bench. If any more of their prospects develop, they might even be able to field a football team. Nine-man, or a full 11.
Most teams can fit their big-league quality outfielders and prospects into a cab. The Twins would need light rail.
A third of the teams in the big leagues are trying to trade relief pitchers. The Twins need relief pitchers. The Twins are watching Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks turn into fine everyday big-leaguers before their eyes. Trading an outfielder for a reliever makes sense.
Thursday night, the Twins defeated Seattle 9-5 largely because Rosario and Hicks suddenly look like they could win games at Target Field for the next five years.
So why haven’t the Twins made a deal? The devil may be in the details. Or the devil may be in the delay.
Is it just a coincidence that the sound of the Twins front office this week is the same as the sound at Target Field for most of this homestand? Silence?
While the Toronto Blue Jays again went all-in on a mediocre team — they do that every two years or so — and the Rangers landed Cole Hamels and the Dodgers did Dodgers-like things and the Astros did un-Astros-like things, the Twins haven’t just practiced patience. They have perfected it.
With one day left before baseball’s nonwaiver trade deadline, they have done nothing.
Maybe the Twins are protecting their farm system, avoiding sacrificing assets to prop up a struggling team. But the results are that they are hoarding outfielders when they should be pushing to win right now, for the sake of a franchise trying to recapture its fan base and its self-respect.
For the rest of this season, the Twins will have some combination of Torii Hunter, Rosario, Hicks and Byron Buxton playing most of the innings in the outfield.
Next season, the Twins will have to find a place for Miguel Sano, who is too athletic to be a full-time designated hitter. They could trade Trevor Plouffe and place Sano at third, where he has played his entire professional career. But that would not make the Twins a better team.
They could keep Sano at DH, but that would stunt his learning curve as a fielder, and he will be much more valuable as a power-hitting position player than as a DH.
They have Joe Mauer at first base for another three seasons, so Sano can’t take over the position best-suited for his body type. That leaves a corner outfield position for him.
Going into next year, the Twins could have these outfielders available to them: Hunter, Buxton, Hicks, Rosario, Sano, Oswaldo Arcia, Max Kepler and Adam Brett Walker.
If the Twins keep them all, they had better hire Mike Yeo to handle the line changes.
Not all of them will thrive, not all of them will make it. That’s a big part of General Manager Terry Ryan’s job — picking the right guy to trade.
If Hunter returns, the Twins can easily afford to trade one of their young outfielder prospects. Heck, even if they don’t re-sign Hunter, they can afford to trade one. And if they don’t they will be faced with benching or holding back one of the better players in their organization, or making a deal in the future.
Trading for a reliever or shortstop would have helped much more a week or a month ago. Better to trade to stave off a slump than to try to stop one. By delaying, the Twins have encouraged the Jays and others to be aggressive.
I’ve been around Ryan since 1993 and I’ve never heard him more adamant about the importance of making a trade, for reasons of baseball and team morale.
But for the past two weeks, the silence of the Twins front office has mirrored the silence for most of this homestand at the picturesque ballpark on 5th Street.