MINNEAPOLIS -- As general manager Terry Ryan put it shortly before the All-Star break, the Twins are open for business leading up to the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
With a 32-56 record that ranks as the worst in the American League, the Twins are undoubtedly sellers for the first time since 2014. Minnesota is willing to listen in on just about anybody outside of its core of young prospects. The Twins are looking for pitching help, but Ryan said he's not limiting himself to looking for any specific positions to upgrade -- he's looking for the best package of prospects.
Right-hander Ervin Santana is the club's biggest trade chip, and he's the most likely to be dealt. Santana posted a 1.63 ERA over his last four starts entering the break, and he attracted several opposing scouts at each of his recent outings. But the Twins have several other veterans who could be traded, such as red-hot catcher Kurt Suzuki, All-Star shortstop Eduardo Nunez and relievers Fernando Abad and Brandon Kintzler.
Third baseman Trevor Plouffe was a top candidate to be dealt, but he's out until August with a fractured rib. Right-hander Ricky Nolasco could also be traded, but he's owed a combined $25 million over the next two years, and he has a 5.22 ERA this season and a 5.49 ERA over the last three years. Second baseman Brian Dozier has heated up since June, and he is a wild card to be traded, but unlikely to be dealt given his role as team leader and fan favorite.
Several contending teams are in need of pitching help, such as the Rangers, Orioles, Blue Jays and Red Sox, and Santana would give them a dependable mid-rotation option. Texas, which saw Santana first-hand on July 1 when he limited the Rangers to two runs over 6 1/3 innings, has a deep farm system and the teams seem to match up well for a trade. However, the Twins would likely have to eat some of the $27 million Santana is owed over the next two years to get a better return.
WHAT ARE THEY PLAYING FOR?
Minnesota is hoping to finish the second half strong to serve as a springboard to next year, but it will also use it as a time to let its younger players, such as Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Max Kepler, develop. Top prospect Jose Berrios is also expected to be called up shortly after the break to rejoin the rotation.
THE ROAD AHEAD
The Twins, who won seven of nine heading into the break, open the second half with a tough slate, hosting the first-place Indians before traveling to Detroit and Boston. Minnesota has 46 games remaining against the AL Central, and it has struggled within the division, going 6-21.
Buxton, who has long been one of baseball's elite prospects -- he entered the year as MLBPipeline.com's No. 2 overall prospect -- has showed glimpses of his potential, but he has yet to put it all together. Much of the organization's future hinges on how he develops, and a strong second half would put to rest some of the doubts that have crept up with his offensive struggles.
PROSPECTS TO WATCH
Berrios didn't fare well in his first taste of the Majors with a 10.20 ERA in four starts, but he has been lights-out at Triple-A Rochester with a 2.98 ERA in 10 outings. He's expected to be back up shortly after the break.
Hard-throwing reliever J.T. Chargois, who also struggled in his brief callup with the Twins, is expected to be back up soon after pitching in the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game. Other prospects who could surface with the Twins include infielder Jorge Polanco, outfielder Daniel Palka and relievers Trevor Hildenberger and Mason Melotakis.