MIAMI – After failing to land a top-tier starting pitcher to fortify their rotation, the Twins are faced with considering other options as time ticks away toward the 3 p.m. Wednesday trade deadline.
According to multiple sources with knowledge of talks, the Twins discussed trade scenarios with Toronto about righthander Marcus Stroman before the All-Star starting pitcher was dealt to the Mets. They also inquired about Mets righthander Noah Syndergaard before being turned off by New York’s high asking price, which included outfielder Byron Buxton.
With those two targets no longer viable, the Twins could instead look to adding another bullpen arm before the deadline, a market in which Toronto’s Daniel Hudson, San Diego’s Kirby Yates, Arizona teammates Greg Holland and Archie Bradley, Baltimore’s Mychal Givens and others could emerge as targets.
Their best option appeared to be Stroman, a charismatic ground-ball inducer having a solid season. The Blue Jays were looking for starting pitching in return, but they told the Twins that any deal had to include either shortstop Royce Lewis or outfielder Alex Kirilloff, who are ranked as two of the top 20 prospects in the game.
The Twins were willing to talk about any other prospect than those two, but liked their chances of crafting something Toronto would accept. The Twins do have 20-year-old Class A righthander Jordan Balazovic, who is from Mississauga, Ontario, and pitched in the Futures Game earlier this month; Toronto could have been interested in Balazovic.
Instead of waiting to see what else the Twins and other suitors came up with, the Blue Jays sent Stroman to the Mets for two righthanded pitching prospects, Anthony Kay and Simeon Woods Richardson. Initial reaction around the game was mild surprise, given that neither pitcher was ranked among baseball’s top 100 prospects. Stroman was under team control for another season and there was no urgency to trade him, but the Blue Jays decided to strike even as the Twins hoped to continue conversations.
Talks for Syndergaard never really progressed because the Mets entered the Twins’ no-go zone and asked for Buxton to be part of any package. Syndergaard remains with the Mets, and reports Sunday and Monday indicated that New York desires major league-level talent in return for Syndergaard, who is under team control for two more seasons.
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The Twins seem comfortable with their rotation. Their starters are fifth in MLB in Wins Above Replacement and sixth in ERA. The chance to add what they considered to be a high-quality starter to help them this season and beyond was intriguing enough to look into Stroman and Syndergaard, and they were willing to talk about some of their better prospects.
“We always have to be factoring all of the variables in the equation,” Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said during the Twins’ most recent homestand, “and I wouldn’t rule out any particular asset we have in our organization.”
With Stroman dealt and the Mets taking a hard line on Syndergaard, the Twins will likely explore dealing for another reliever. Perhaps they will engage the Mets about embattled closer Edwin Diaz, who has a rocket arm but has struggled all season.
Toronto reliever Ken Giles had been on the Twins’ radar, even when he landed on the injured list earlier this month. But Giles has been unable to pitch the past two days because of elbow inflammation, Blue Jays manager Charlie Montoyo told reporters Monday night.
The Twins have added one reliever in Miami righthander Sergio Romo, who helped San Francisco win three World Series. Romo doesn’t throw hard, but he excels with a tough slider and changeup and is battle-tested.
The hours before the deadline will be a test to see how the Twins adjust after being unable to land a couple of their targets. They have spoken with every team with relievers to deal, and those talks are expected to continue.
The goal is to feed the playoff push as the Twins, with one of baseball’s best offenses, enter play Tuesday two games ahead of Cleveland in the AL Central.
Marwin Gonzalez was with the Astros in 2017 when Justin Verlander was added and helped fuel Houston’s World Series title run. Nelson Cruz was with the Rangers in 2010 when they dealt for Cliff Lee, who helped Texas reach the World Series that year.
They know what the right moves can do for a team. Do the Twins have a big move in them?
“Everything is different,” Cruz said. “I’m just a player. They know better than us.”