SAN DIEGO — The Twins’ lineup is already among one of the youngest in the Majors, but there could have been even more contribution from the youth movement this season — were it not for health issues that have largely dictated otherwise.
Though several of the organization’s rising young players have been sidelined or limited by injuries this season, one consistent bright spot over the last few months has been Jose Miranda, the club’s No. 3 prospect entering the season. On Sunday afternoon, Miranda made another slick play at third base and hit what was, at one point, the go-ahead homer in an eventual 3-2 loss to the Padres at Petco Park.
But Alex Kirilloff watched the game from the dugout, hampered once again by the recurring right wrist soreness that has persisted since last season, despite a surgery to address the issue. Royce Lewis has been lost for the season after he re-tore the ACL in his right knee. Trevor Larnach is on the mend from a procedure to address a core muscle strain, while Josh Winder’s right shoulder issues have also persisted since last season.
That injury bug has permeated through to the Twins’ top prospects, and that’s a challenge the organization will also have to navigate as it formulates deals to improve the Major League roster in the next 48 hours ahead of Tuesday’s 5 p.m. CT Trade Deadline.
“We certainly are looking at the ‘rental’ market, guys who will be free agents at the end of the year,” Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said to WCCO Radio on Sunday. “We’ll have those conversations, for sure. But any time that we have a conversation with another club about a guy that has future control, it only helps you in your planning over multiple years. I use the term, ‘sustainability.’ How do we walk into a season feeling we will compete for an AL Central championship? I feel like we’ve been able to do that regularly, every year.”
Finding a rental reliever is one thing; finding an impact rotation arm is another entirely. There’s room for both on this club, which enters August only one game up on Cleveland and two up on Chicago in the AL Central. This Twins front office has often shown a preference in the past for acquiring controllable pitchers in trades, whether it be Sam Dyson in 2019, Kenta Maeda in ‘20 or Sonny Gray and Chris Paddack earlier this spring.
The issue is that prices are looking to be steep, as shown in the Luis Castillo deal between the Mariners and Reds on Friday, which involved four prospects — including the Nos. 1, 3 and 5 in the Seattle organization, per MLB Pipeline. Do the Twins have the splashy prospects necessary to include in a similar deal for a difference-maker on the pitching staff?
In the Minnesota organization, only Lewis cracks MLB Pipeline’s Top 100, at No. 38, and he’s hurt, as is No. 2 prospect Austin Martin. At No. 3, Jordan Balazovic has dealt with a knee issue and has a 10.80 ERA with Triple-A St. Paul. At No. 4, Simeon Woods Richardson has recently returned from an extended absence with COVID-19 and other illness, and No. 5 prospect Matt Canterino is still rehabbing from an elbow injury that has sidelined him since June.
That leaves the next tier — prospects like Noah Miller, Spencer Steer and Matt Wallner — as the Twins’ best trade chips, but if teams are looking for young, Top-100-caliber talent, that could involve digging into, perhaps, someone like Miranda, who is only 24 but has already been a major contributor to the Twins as a rookie. His impact has been felt even more due to several of the Twins’ other former top prospects like Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach and Winder dealing with their respective issues.
“Even teams on the buy side, so to speak, there may be a repurposing of players on the roster and thinking about ways to add and subtract,” Falvey said. “We’ll continue to engage in that conversation.”
Has Miranda thought about the possibility that clubs might be asking for a player like him?
“Yeah, sometimes,” Miranda said. “I don’t want to think a lot about that. I’m just trying to go out there, help my team win. And if something happens at the Trade Deadline and I’m going somewhere, I’ve got to go there and just keep playing ball.”
The Twins undoubtedly need pitching help by Tuesday’s Deadline. Impact pitching will obviously cost them — and that’s another factor they’ll have to consider in the next 48 hours.