MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins designated four relievers for assignment over the past two weeks, and with the Trade Deadline less than a week away, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine are quickly approaching what they anticipate will be a chaotic trading period.
But Falvey indicated on Thursday that the Twins, who enter Thursday leading the American League Central by two games, still expect to lean most heavily on their existing team for the stretch run.
"I think, by and large, most of the production is going to come from the team that is already here," Falvey said. "We all expect the Deadline to be when you make or break your team. I don't subscribe to that idea, because a lot of it comes from what we have."
Falvey acknowledged that there are external pieces that will help the team compete this season, but he also expressed confidence in the group already in the clubhouse, which has held its own against elite teams and is at or near the top of the AL in most hitting categories.
"There's lot of aspects of our team that, when you look at it league-wide, are in really good spots, even through some of our tougher stretches of baseball," Falvey said. "As we get healthier, as we get guys like Byron Buxton back and other players back, there's a lot of guys in our current environment that are going to carry us forward."
Here's a rundown of what Falvey said to expect from the Twins heading into Wednesday's Trade Deadline:
How urgent is the need for external bullpen arms?
There is a need, but it could be addressed with a mixture of both internal and external options. Falvey indicated that despite the bullpen's recent rough patch, he still felt the Twins stacked up well alongside the aggregate of bullpen performance around baseball.
"There have been times where it hasn't gone as well, no question," Falvey said. "But most games, we've been in a good spot."
Falvey said the Twins gave several pitchers additional seasoning in Triple-A this season with the idea that they would be Major League factors in the second half, and they expect to transition other Minor League pitchers into relief roles as well.
"So I feel pretty good about it, but I obviously could see opportunities to add," Falvey said.
Do all of these recent DFAs indicate that trades are coming?
Not directly, though the open spots created on the 40-man roster certainly make it easier to add external talent to the Major League club. But Falvey clarified that the DFAs were more about Minor League options than the result of a concerted move to create space on the 40-man.
"I think that we're flexible right now on our 40-man, we have a few open spots, which is a benefit to us," Falvey said. "But it really does get back to the fact that we would have kept all those guys in the organization had they had the flexibility to go to the Minor Leagues, and it just didn't work out that way."
Are the Twins going for rentals or controllable assets?
Both, though Falvey said the early priority could lean toward players with remaining team control.
"Would we consider rentals? Certainly," Falvey said. "But I would say that we obviously are going to be thoughtful about how much future value you're giving up for that type of asset. So some of the early focus might be more on longer-term, controlled players, but we're certainly going to look at the rental options, too."
Are they looking for a future starter?
With Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi and Michael Pineda all set for free agency following this season, it's certainly a consideration, but not necessarily a top priority.
"It's in the back of your mind, certainly, like future roster stuff in 2020 and even beyond, so it's definitely something we think about," Falvey said. "But I don't know that it'll be the primary focus of this Deadline. If it works out where we line up on something where we get a controllable starter, that would be a great outcome, but I don't know that that will be our primary focus."
Are any of the Twins' top prospects untouchable?
The Twins would likely be hard-pressed to part with their top three prospects in Royce Lewis (No. 7 in MLB Pipeline's Top 100), Alex Kirilloff (No. 11) and Brusdar Graterol (No. 48), but Falvey didn't want to close the door on the possibility altogether.
“I try not to operate in those terms, because you never know what the other end of the phone call is," Falvey said. "I just think that every player has a value to us based on how many years of control that player coming back has, how impactful we think the player is -- not just for this season but for seasons ahead. That makes a big difference."
Lewis is currently heating up with seven homers at Class A Advanced Fort Myers since the All-Star break, while Kirilloff has continued his hitting prowess with a .284/.354/.409 line at Double-A Pensacola. Graterol, who has been sidelined with right shoulder impingement, threw live batting practice with the past few days and is expected to begin a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League soon.
"We always have to be factoring all of the variables in the equation, and I wouldn't rule out any particular asset we have in our organization," Falvey said.
Are the Twins willing to take on salary?
"I would say that we definitely have support from [owner] Jim Pohlad on what we need to add in terms of salary," Falvey said.