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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Twins Dealt Poor Hand as Trade Deadline Approaches

With the July 31st trade deadline fast approaching, trade talk is heating up and will continue to do so in the wake of the All-Star break in Kansas City. Given the Twins current position as AL Central cellar dwellers and 11 games back of the currently leading White Sox they look to be sellers in a market with more than its fair share of trade talk and speculation as a result of more teams in playoff contention given the additional wild card position available in each league beginning this season. So what position are the Twins in to make deals that will have significant impact on an organization which has many needs but is particularly bereft of high quality major league ready pitching?

Many blogs have been expecting a large scale house cleaning effort by the Twins in the coming weeks with the likes of Texas, Toronto, Atlanta and Cleveland all being touted as potential trade partners for the Twins, to name but a few. The Twins however find themselves with few quality names to trade and will certainly not be able to acquire any blue chip prospects, due to a variety of extenuating circumstances.

Carl Pavano was initially a name being mentioned after the Twins awful start but with injury derailing his season, will not be dealt in the buildup to the deadline. Another name that has been strongly linked to trade discussion has been that of Denard Span. The consistent on base machine has been paying well throughout this season and the Nationals have shown interest in Span over a few consecutive seasons. The emergence of Bryce Harper has certainly diminished this possibility as his .282/.354/.472 slash line through 63 games outshine Span’s own line (.270/.334/.375), indeed Harper also has more HR, SB and RBI than Span, in 15 less games played.

Justin Morneau is another Twin who has been linked with a number of teams, most notably the Toronto Blue Jays. Morneau’s first half numbers simply don’t do enough to entice teams to part with significant prospects. The 2006 MVP was held to a .246 average through the first half of the season, with 11 HR and 38 RBI and despite playing in 65 games (just 4 shy of last years total), his history with chronic post-concussion syndrome, middling form, inability to hit the ball to the opposite field this season and bloated contract (in which he is due $14 million next season) make him less likely to be dealt. Matt Capps remains a likely trade chip as the Twins have a $6 million option on him in 2013 which they are unlikely to pick up. Despite the fact that Capps has pitched well this season his DL stint prior to the all star break derailed his momentum in which he had given up just 3 ER in his 8.1 innings pitched.

Finally there is Francisco Liriano. On Monday FOX sports Ken Rosenthal reported that teams were ‘wary’ of trading for Liriano, despite an ERA of 2.74 in 8 starts since his return from the bullpen including 52 strike outs in just 49.1 innings. Rosenthal went on to report that it would be unlikely that teams would part for significant prospects for Liriano, who many teams see as a ‘bullpen option’. With Liriano becoming a free agent at the end of the year, the Twins do not have much leverage or a significant history of consistency from their mercurial ace to barter with, despite several reports that the Braves have scouted Liriano’s last several starts.

The Twins could be in a far stronger position approaching the trade deadline but impending free agency, injury history and a lack of form has made it probable that the return they receive on any trades made will be moderate at best, stay tuned for further updates.

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