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Zulgad’s Roundup: Twins’ brass has to decide whether to pursue playoff success or bow out

MLB: Minnesota Twins at Texas Rangers
Jul 8, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Minnesota Twins shortstop Carlos Correa (4) gestures as he rounds the bases after hitting a two run home run against the Texas Rangers during the first inning at Globe Life Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Cowsert-USA TODAY Sports

The Twins have options with the MLB trade deadline two weeks from Tuesday. They can attempt to upgrade a starting staff and bullpen that clearly needs help, if the team is going to remain in first place in the AL Central. They could decide it wouldn’t be wise to pay the price for talented pitching and decide to turn one-and-done shortstop Carlos Correa into prospects.

The one thing that Derek Falvey, the Twins’ president of baseball operations, can’t do is stand pat.

The Twins (50-44) were good enough to enter this week’s All-Star break with a two-game lead on Cleveland and three-game edge on Chicago because of 23-8 stretch that ended in late May. The Twins have gone 23-28 since and are 3-7 in their past 10 after dropping three of four to the White Sox over the weekend at Target Field.

The Twins, as currently constructed, might (and that’s a big might) be able to hang on to win a terrible division, but there is no hope of playoff success without what would amount to a pitching makeover. This team needs at least one more quality starter (Oakland’s Frankie Montas or Cincinnati’s Luis Castillo are big-name targets), and a few legitimate bullpen arms to replace inconsistent relievers such as Emilio Pagan and Joe Smith.

Falvey’s biggest issue is that Correa’s agent, Scott Boras, decided to place his client in Minnesota when it became clear the standout free agent wasn’t going to get what he was looking for on a long-term contract. Correa, to the surprise of everyone, signed a three-year, $105.3 million deal in late March that included opt-outs after years one and two. That meant he really signed a one-year, $35.1 million deal.

Nobody was complaining then or now about landing Correa, but his presence does create urgency. Either the Twins are going to take advantage of having one season of the standout shortstop and make deals before Aug. 2, or Falvey needs to get something for Correa while he can. (This has been brought up numerous times on the Mackey & Judd podcast by Phil Mackey and he’s absolutely right).

It would be interesting to see what the 27-year-old Correa could bring back in a trade. He is hitting .279/.353/.450 with 11 home runs and 33 RBIs in 70 games this season. Correa also have proven to be a great clubhouse guy. Unfortunately, he doesn’t pitch.

The Twins’ starting staff ranks 25th in the big leagues with a 5.18 ERA, and the relievers are 20th with a 4.39 ERA. The only thing the Twins would be doing is assuring themselves of more playoff failure by qualifying for the postseason with this current roster. The franchise’s 18-game losing streak in the playoffs is the longest in the history of pro sports in North America. Having Pagan or Smith or any other struggling pitcher take the mound in October would mean that streak could easily reach 20.

  • Boras told the Star Tribune that he has had no talks with the Twins about Correa returning next season. It has been a long shot he would be back since the day he signed.
  • How much has the stolen base been taken out of baseball? Correa had 27 stolen bases in his first two seasons. He has six in five-plus seasons since and his last steal came in 2019. The last time he was caught stealing was 2017.
  • Scoopmaster Darren “Doogie” Wolfson tells the Roundup that the Twins are looking for a backup catcher before the trade deadline. Ryan Jeffers is out for six-to-eight weeks because of a fractured right thumb. That makes Gary Sanchez the team’s top catcher and the recently promoted Caleb Hamilton his backup.
  • Other Scoops from Doogie: Former Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph could end up with Tom Brady in Tampa Bay and Dallas and Washington have expressed interest in still unemployed former Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Barr was bothered by a knee injury last season and has played only 13 games over the past two years.
  • Former Browns center JC Tretter, bothered by ankle and knee injuries, remains a free agent. It will be interesting to see if he gets a job somewhere and if the Vikings express interest. Especially if Garrett Bradbury struggles in training camp.
  • Considering how much the Twins rely on their relievers, and the fact the team’s philosophy is often to get its starters out early, it’s interesting the number of question marks that have been allowed to exist in the bullpen. The Twins are tied for 10th in the major leagues in innings pitched by relievers at 623.2.
  • The Vikings waived quarterback Nate Stanley and will open training camp with three QBs, including Kirk Cousins, Sean Mannion and Kellen Mond. It will be interesting to see how much playing time Mond gets in the preseason and if he will be allowed to push Mannion for the backup spot.
  • The Vikings’ first training camp practice under new coach Kevin O’Connell will be from 2:15 to 4:30 p.m. next Wednesday at TCO Performance Center. The team will practice at U.S. Bank Stadium a week from Friday.
  • PointsBet has the Timberwolves’ over/under on wins for next season at 49.5 games. The Clippers are at 52.5 games and defending champion Golden State is at 50.5 games.