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3 Minnesota Twins trade targets who could strengthen team’s playoff hopes

Andrew Buller-Russ

The Minnesota Twins are in first place of the AL Central and they’ve been the division leaders for most of the season, leading the Cleveland Guardians by just 3.5 games. As is, they appear primed to at least compete for a playoff spot, whether it’s with the division crown or as a wild card team.

Like every other team, the Twins have their weaknesses too. Namely, the bullpen and the pitching staff as a whole have started to become a mess. It could be partially linked to Wes Johnson’s sudden departure from being the pitching coach. Yet the Twins have also dealt with several key contributors missing time due to injury. Right now four pitchers who have started at least three games this season for the Twins are currently on the IL, including three of their original five-man rotation.

Here’s an example of how their staff has slipped by month, as shared by Aaron Gleeman of The Athletic.

Needless to say, the Twins can’t just keep waiting for their injured player to return. Chris Paddack won’t be coming back at all this year, and Kenta Maeda is still likely months away. Plus, the bullpen needs a jolt in the arm.

You can probably guess the positions I’m targeting, but here are three Minnesota Twins trade targets to help them push for the postseason.

Minnesota Twins boost bullpen with Daniel Bard trade

MLB: Colorado Rockies at Arizona Diamondbacks
Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

So, by now we can all see the Taylor Rogers trade for Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan has worked out horribly. Not only did the Twins lose their All-Star closer, Paddack’s been shut down for the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery. To make matters worse, Pagan’s on the verge of losing his spot in the bullpen as he continues to implode. Luckily, Paddack is under team control via arbitration through 2024, but that does nothing to help the team in 2022.

With Rogers replaced by Pagan, who’s up to an astonishing 5.16 ERA, the Twins have a strong need for reliable arms in the bullpen to go with rookie fireballer Jhoan Duran. While many are hesitant to trade for bullpen pieces, the Twins may not have a choice if they want to end up with a decent staff come October.

  • Twins get: Daniel Bard
  • Rockies get: Aaron Sabato

The Twins need bullpen help? Great. So does every other team in baseball. That makes getting a deal done harder than it sounds. With Jhoan Duran already locked in as the top arm in the bullpen, fans shouldn’t expect a major acquisition, like acquiring another closer in his prime.

Instead, targeting a wily vet let Daniel Bard could help provide stability. Bard is 37, on the last year of his contract, and is making $4.4 million this season. Despite pitching for Colorado where the elevation sends baseballs soaring into the night sky, Bard has given up just three home runs across 31.2 innings.

With a stellar 2.27 ERA, to go with an FIP of 3.73, Bard has struck out 38 batters and walked 17 others. He’s been handling closing duties for the Rockies for the past two seasons, sealing the deal 20 times last season and racking up 17 more saves thus far in 2022. He wouldn’t be the top closing option in the Twin Cities with Duran around, but he can take over for Pagan, splitting duties. He’s certainly proven capable.

Related: MLB mock draft 2022: Shakeups in July send top MLB Draft prospects around the board

Jose Quintana returns to AL Central via trade

MLB: New York Yankees at Pittsburgh Pirates
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
  • Twins get: Jose Quintana, Noe Toribio
  • Pirates get: Nick Gordon, Blayne Enlow

Jose Quintana may not be the household name that Luis Castillo or Frankie Montas are, but the former All-Star has been by far the best pitcher on a bad Pittsburgh Pirates ballclub. He has a 3.33 ERA through 81 innings, which, is better than Dylan Bundy and his 4.50 ERA through 70 innings.

Quintana’s not a frontline starter, he’d likely slot in behind Joe Ryan and Sonny Gray, but he’d help form a solid rotation until Kenta Maeda can come help provide more stability if they make it to October.

The only lefty currently in the rotation is Devin Smeltzer, Quintana is also a southpaw. While he’s 33 years old, Quintana’s set to hit free agency at the end of the year, which likely means the non-competitive Pirates are looking to sell. He’d be an easy sell to team ownership, as Quintana’s pulling in $2 million in salary this season.

Parting with Blayne Enlow, the Twins’ 17th rated prospect might not be ideal for what could be a one-year rental, but there’s always a chance they can convince Quintana to stick around if he experiences more success. Losing Nick Gordon obviously isn’t ideal either, he’s starting to show some pop, and his positional versatility is unmatched, but the Twins have so many corner outfielders and something has to give.

Related: MLB power rankings 2022: Los Angeles Dodgers climb, Red Sox and Mets take a hit

Oakland Athletics finally trade Frankie Montas

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Seattle Mariners
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
  • Twins get: Frankie Montas, Lou Trivino, Colin Peluse
  • Athletics get: Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic

The Oakland Athletics, though they have the worst record in baseball, haven’t shown a willingness to sell the farm even further just yet. One player many teams have been targeting dating back to the offseason, is Frankie Montas. He’s been linked to several trade rumors, but alas, he remains in Oakland.

At some point, Montas is likely to be traded. It’s likely just about waiting for the best offer, hoping to leverage teams against one another to drive the price up. If they get desperate enough, the Twins just might step to the plate. Several fans are hoping they will.

Montas leads MLB in starts with 17, and his 3.26 ERA on another bad Athletics team is a great representative of his talent level. Unfortunately, they’re really letting him down, as he also leads the majors with nine losses. That’s just unfair, man.

He currently makes $5 million in salary, and is arbitration eligible next season too, giving the Twins another year of security, but a trade of this caliber would cost more. Much more.

They might have to part with the No. 2 prospect in their farm system, outfielder/shortstop Austin Martin, plus a young arm like Jordan Balazovic, the No. 3 prospect in the system to do so. It’s an expensive price to pay, but that’s the cost when acquiring an All-Star pitcher. The Twins also get relief pitcher Lou Trivino in the deal, who was the A’s closer last season. This year, he’s struggled, to a 6.94 ERA, but his 2.89 FIP suggests he’s been a bit unlucky.

The Twins could look to pull off a two-for-one deal, adding two MLB talents to their staff. If their recent effort is any indication, it looks like they’ll need to add at least two, if not three arms to the roster to make it to October.

Related: MLB trade rumors: Latest MLB rumors entering July