Yesterday I wrote up a post entitled "What Not to Trade," in which I noted my opposition to any trade that would force the Twins to part with one of their five young rotation members unless the return was significant. Today I'll talk a little bit about some pieces that I could see the Twins reasonably parting with this offseason if they wish to bring in some outside talent via trade.
As most are aware, the Twins have a bit of an outfield glut. In Delmon Young, Carlos Gomez, Denard Span, Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, the Twins have five players who probably should be starting regularly but can only fill four spots (unless Cuddyer were to move back to third base, which seems highly unlikely). Each of these players is expendable in his own way, but at the same time, now seems like a poor time to move any of them.
I explained on Monday why this is the wrong time to give up on Kubel. Gomez is a fan favorite and trading him could cause the team to take a huge PR hit, which makes such a move unlikely. Some might argue that Span's value will never be higher, but his solid plate approach makes me believe that he can continue to have success, and he profiles as the only legitimate leadoff option on the roster right now. Trading Young at this point might be selling low, since he failed to show any progress from 2007 to 2008 but figures to (perhaps drastically) improve within the next couple seasons. Cuddyer appears to be the odd man out, but with his hefty new contract and the poor injury-riddled season he just finished up, he's hardly a hot commodity around the league.
One area where the Twins do have some depth is in the low minors, and this actually may play to their benefit in negotiating with a team like the Mariners. Seattle will no doubt covet the Twins' major-league ready pitching, but quite frankly the M's are deluding themselves if they think they'll be competing any time soon, so it might be in the organization's best interest to bring in some promising prospects that may be able to help out three or four years down the line.
Ben Revere is one name I would consider giving up in a Beltre trade. That's likely not a popular idea, since Revere flirted with .400 for much of the season while playing for Low-A Beloit and has some impressive physical tools. But there's a decent chance Revere will take a step back in the higher levels of the minors if he can't add some power and patience, so his value might be at an all-time high right now. More importantly, the Twins have a younger player in Aaron Hicks who performed extremely well in the Gulf Coast League this season after being drafted in the first round of June's amateur entry draft, and there's a fairly good chance he could supplant Revere as the organization's top outfield prospect within a year. With three players under the age of 25 currently populating their outfield and another talented young player in Jason Pridie standing by in Triple-A, the Twins are in no hurry to usher in new outfield help, so dealing Revere and patiently waiting for Hicks would make some sense.
Catcher Wilson Ramos is another talented player who had a strong season in the low minors, hitting .288/.346/.434 with 13 home runs and 78 RBI as a 20-year-old in High-A ball, and the Twins might be willing to consider parting with him since they've got that Joe Mauer guy locked in at the catcher position. However, scouts rave about Ramos and he is quietly rising to the top of this organization's prospect list, so he might be moving into that "untouchable" territory unless another club could offer up something truly tantalizing.
Tyler Robertson, Alex Burnett, Deolis Guerra and Mike McCardell are all quality arms in the low minors who the Twins should consider putting on the table in trade talks. Furthermore, any of the team's hurlers in the high minors (Anthony Swarzak, Kevin Mulvey, Jeff Manship, Zach Ward) would be attractive pieces in a package offer to any team looking to rebuild and add quality pitching depth. As much as I'm against trading any member of The Fab 5, the Twins do have a number of solid (if unspectacular) pitching prospects throughout the organization who are pretty much all expendable at the right price.
My personal feeling is that the Twins would be best served trying to address their problems via free agency rather than through trades this offseason. That's an area where I'm in stark opposition to some other bloggers, such as Aaron Gleeman. But, as much as I make note of this organization's past failures in free agency in past years, they are significantly under budget. I don't think the climate is right for the team to make a major trade. Pulling a starter out of their rotation would only create another hole to fill, and despite the fact that they feature something of an outfield glut, no member of that corps seems like an obvious trade candidate.
With all that being said, if the Twins do decide to make a trade to upgrade their big-league roster during the offseason, they have plenty of pieces littered throughout their minor-league system that could be used toward that end.