There are only two ways Twins players are going to make the World Series this season:
Buy tickets to the games.
Or get traded to a contender.
If the Twins were looking at this past home stand against the Yankees and Astros as a measuring stick to see where they stand with a little over six weeks remaining before the trade deadline, they couldn't have liked how wobbly things looked.
The pieces just aren't in place. There are too many flaws to imagine this team getting back to .500, let alone truly getting back in the race after a 26-39 record through 65 games has left them 15 games back of the White Sox.
The bigger question, as discussed on Monday's Daily Delivery podcast with Patrick Reusse, is just how many players — and what caliber — the Twins end up trading.
Reusse, an astute judge of baseball and personalities, said on the podcast that he senses some dissatisfaction on the part of Byron Buxton — who spent the week rehabbing his latest injury in St. Paul while the Twins gasped for air with a makeshift outfield.
Whether there is some (or a lot of) lingering resentment on Buxton's part for the way the Twins handled his service time in 2018 is an interesting question. He would be a free agent after this season if the Twins had called him up from Class AAA in September after his disastrous start and wrist injury. Instead, he won't hit free agency until after the 2022 season.
Buxton hasn't played for the Twins since May 6. He was having a dominant season and the Twins at least theoretically were still candidates for a turnaround when he was hurt. But now? Nope.
So that leaves us with this realization: There's not a single player on the Twins roster, Buxton included, who should be considered untouchable in a trade either at the deadline at the end of July or in this upcoming offseason.
Buxton and Jose Berrios will both be free agents in a year-and-a-half. Those are home grown success stories who are performing at a high level. But neither might be inclined to sign long-term extensions, and the time to maximize trade value is sooner not later.
Nelson Cruz and Josh Donaldson are veteran power hitters. Cruz would make for an easy swap. Donaldson has 2.5 years left on his $92 million contract, but he came here to win. If the Twins could find a taker, they would make a trade quickly (Reusse mentioned Atlanta as a possible destination).
Taylor Rogers? The bullpen would be lost without him, but the season is lost with him.
Jorge Polanco? Miguel Sano? Max Kepler? Mitch Garver? We thought of these guys as core players not that long ago, but it's hard to imagine the Twins saying no to a trade involving any of them. Kenta Maeda? He's good when healthy, but he's not untouchable. If Maeda, Berrios and Rogers aren't untouchable, nobody else in the rotation or bullpen are.
I can't imagine the Twins would want to trade Alex Kirilloff or Trevor Larnach, but would they really balk if a team offered a top pitching prospect for one of them?
Berrios and Buxton would fetch the most in trades, with Rogers number three. Those would all make a team (and fans) swallow hard because that would be a true concession that this year is over and 2022 probably isn't a real year to contend, either.
But when you don't have any untouchable players on your roster, it's probably time to move a lot of them.