Decision to buy or sell not clear-cut for Twins

June 21st, 2018

Last summer, the Twins decided they would be a buyer -- until they became a seller, that is.
Minnesota acquired left-hander from the Braves on July 24, hoping the addition would help erase the 2 1/2-game deficit at the time between the Twins and the American League Central-leading Indians. Six days later, Cleveland's lead over Minnesota had swelled to seven games, prompting the Twins to trade Garcia to the Yankees and reliever to the Nationals.
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"When we made those deals, I can't tell you we had a vision that that was going to spark the performance that our team had," said Twins general manager Thad Levine, referring to his team's two-month surge, which helped it earn the second AL Wild Card spot. "We certainly felt it was capable of that, but by and large, the team skyrocketed after our trades. If we were that smart, we would have made those trades a lot earlier."
The Twins find themselves in a similar situation this summer, not quite certain whether they should be buying or selling as the calendar moves toward July. A number of sellers have called to ask whether the Twins are interested in adding players, while other teams have inquired about Minnesota's mindset six weeks before the non-waiver Trade Deadline.
"We're in an interesting spot; we're trying to figure out who we are and what we should be doing," Levine said. "There are so many teams that are clear-cut sellers and a handful that are clear-cut buyers. We're more inclined to be patient right now and utilize a little more of the runway we have.
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"We think we have a lot of guys on our team that would be attractive trade acquisitions, which, by definition, if you have a lot of those, your team should probably be pretty good. We're inclined to give it every opportunity to perform before we really do something."
The Twins have been without all season as he serves an 80-game suspension for violating MLB's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program, while players such as , Joe Mauer, and have missed significant time with injuries.
"We're walking that line that we're hopeful that once we get everyone back together, we're going to take off," Levine said. "The other side of that is, how much of that is wishful thinking? At what point in the season are you who you are, and you need to embrace that? A lot of things went our way last year, and maybe not as many are going our way this year."
So how long will the Twins wait to decide if they're prepared to buy, sell or stand pat?
"It's hard to put a hard date on how long we'll be patient," Levine said. "We also recognize that with the number of stated sellers out there, if we decide to go down that path, there's probably a timing that's going to be advantageous. If we wait until the absolute end, maybe the buyers will have done all of their shopping. We're trying to keep our finger on the pulse of the pace of the market."
Manny Machado (Orioles), Mike Moustakas (Royals) and (White Sox) are mentioned often as potential trade candidates, but one GM wonders whether any hitter -- even one of Machado's caliber -- will bring back a big haul of prospects this summer.
"One of the things the last few Trade Deadlines have shown us is that I'm not sure how valuable these bats have been," the GM said. "How different is Moustakas from last year? Bruce didn't net the Mets a huge return, and he went on to have a very good second half. You can argue J.D. Martinez didn't net a huge return for Detroit, either.
"We used to believe you could really jump-start your rebuild through the Trade Deadline, but aside from the and deals, I'm not sure it's really played out that way the last couple of years."
The GM believes that relief pitchers will remain the most sought-after commodity this summer, especially now that Alex Colome and have already been dealt by the Rays and Royals, respectively.
"Almost every team -- if not every contending team -- needs a reliever," the GM said. "Very few need a right fielder and second baseman or a third baseman. So unless there's a good fit, there's always going to be a bigger market for a reliever than a big bat."