The Minnesota Twins own the second-best record in the American League at 53-30 and have an eight-game lead in the American League Central Division, but there’s still work to be done. If the Twins are serious about a postseason run, they’ll have to add an arm or two -- whether it’s a starter or reliever -- by the July 31 trade deadline (note: unlike in years past, there’s only one deadline this year as the Aug. 31 waiver deadline has been eliminated) to help further support the offensive juggernaut that is the #BombaSquad. Here are a few candidates the Twins could target in a trade (statistics through July 1):
SP Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco
Bumgarner might not be the dominant pitcher he once was, but he’s only 29 (he’ll turn 30 on Aug. 1) and could earn a big paycheck in free agency (yes, he’d be a one-year rental player) if he puts together a solid second half. So far in 2019, Bumgarner has an unspectacular 5-7 record with a 4.-2 ERA -- and he’s pitched past the sixth inning in just five of 18 starts. But the Twins would sign Bumgarner for one thing and one thing only: He boasts one of the most impressive postseason resumes in the history of the game. Bumgarner led San Francisco to three titles in 2010, 2012 and 2014 and was named World Series MVP in the latter when he earned two wins and then pitched another five innings for a championship-clinching save in Game 7. All in all, Bumgarner owns an 8-3 record, 2.11 ERA and 87 strikeouts in 102 1/3 innings pitched (16 games) in the playoffs. Although he’s not currently at his best, Bumgarner recently told The Athletic he plans on finding that gear again in the upcoming postseason. If it happens, let’s hope it’s for the right team.
RP Will Smith, San Francisco
If it’s not Bumgarner, the Twins could still work out a trade with the Giants for Smith, who ranks sixth in baseball with 21 saves this season. Like Bumgarner, Smith is also 29 and will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. The left-hander has put together a career year and could see his first All-Star nomination soon after he’s logged career bests with a 2.16 ERA, 0.810 WHIP and 13.8 K/9 while notching 6.38 strikeouts for every walk. Smith could cost less to trade for just because he doesn’t have the Bumgarner postseason folklore attached to his name, and he’d be a safer option in high-leverage situations than any Twins reliever on the current roster. And, hey, maybe the Twins could get both Bumgarner and Smith as the Giants, who will be trade deadline sellers, have no need for an older closer who will be a free agent. Might as well get something for him!
USA TODAY SportsCody Glenn
SP Trevor Bauer, Cleveland
The Twins hold an eight-game lead over Cleveland in the AL Central, so the Indians -- who were preseason favorites to walk away with the division title -- could be sellers by late July. The Indians reportedly were thinking of dealing the right-hander this past offseason, but would Cleveland trade Bauer to a division rival? Bauer has a 6-6 record, 3.55 ERA and 1.143 WHIP this season is second in the American League with 119 innings pitched. He’s been a key part of the Indians’ playoff runs from 2016-18 and even started two games of the 2016 World Series. But would Bauer fit in with the Twins clubhouse? He’s known as a big personality (just scroll through his Twitter feed) and has been known to stir the pot on the Internet more than once, but there’s no denying he’d make the Twins’ pitching staff better. A trade for Bauer likely would only be a rental. This offseason, Bauer made his plans to sign nothing but one-year deals for the rest of his career. It’s worth mentioning, however, that Minnesota has a connection with Bauer, as Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey was Cleveland’s director of baseball operations when the Indians traded for the right-hander back in 2012.
USA TODAY SportsKen Blaze
RP Brad Hand, Cleveland
The Indians picked up Hand last season for their playoff push but rumors have circulated that Cleveland could deal him at this trade deadline to help pare some payroll. Hand is making $6.5 million this year and $7 million next year with a team option for $10 million (with a $1 million buyout) in 2021. The left-handed Hand has been more than solid in taking over the closer’s role in Cleveland. So far in 2019, he has 23 saves, a 2.29 ERA, 0.991 WHIP and 13.5 K/9. Hand would be a welcome addition to the Twins’ bullpen, but, as with Bauer, would Cleveland deal him to a division rival and even if so, what would be the cost?
RP Mychal Givens, Baltimore
The Orioles are going nowhere this year (or for a while) and are looking for young pieces to build around. The 29-year-old Givens doesn’t fit that bill, although he is under team control until 2022 (arbitration eligible in 2020). His numbers this year might scare off some suitors – 5.06 ERA and 1.313 WHIP. But Givens is also posting a personal-best 12.9 K/9 (his career rate is 10.7) and he’s been pitching better in June (0.955 WHIP, 16.0 K/9) after a disastrous May (6.39 ERA, 1.579 WHIP). Givens was solid in his first four years in Baltimore – 3.12 ERA, 1.131 WHIP, 10.4 K/9 – so a change of scenery might do him well. The deal could be a tough sell, though, as the Orioles likely wouldn’t just give him away (see team control above) and his 2019 stats might not justify the asking price.
USA TODAY SportsTommy Gilligan
SP Caleb Smith, Miami
If the Twins are looking for a left-hander to join (or take the place of) Martin Perez in the starting rotation, Smith might be the answer. The 27-year-old is coming into his own this season, notching three wins with the lowly Marlins as well as a career-best 3.41 ERA and 1.015 WHIP. Smith is known to give up a bunch of home runs (he allows 1.8 per nine innings) but he’s logged a 11.2 K/9 and fanned 8+ hitters in seven of 12 outings this year. Smith is an even more attractive piece to add because his contract is controllable for four years beyond 2019 -- he’s not eligible for arbitration until 2021 (and free agency in 2024). On a team that seems to never stop rebuilding, Derek Jeter and Miami might be open to swapping Smith for a couple of more prospects. Smith is on the injured list, but he’s expected back soon.
SP Matthew Boyd, Detroit
Another trade option inside the AL Central, Boyd boasts one of the best sliders in the game -- and he’s only going to get better. Boyd is 28, but he only recently started to find consistent success due to the slider. In 2017, Boyd threw his slider 10.3% of the time and averaged 7.3 strikeouts per nine innings. This season, 35.7% of the pitches he tosses are sliders, and his K/9 mark is a career-best 11.4. Boyd also has great control, as he leads the big leagues with a 6.45 K/BB ratio. Since he’s arbitration eligible in 2020 and won’t become a free agent until 2023, Detroit will likely ask for the farm for Boyd.