The Minnesota Twins are in the thick of a play-off race and the team is reportedly looking for bullpen help. The San Diego Padres have some key pitchers that could be attained via trade. Joaquin Benoit, Shawn Kelley, and even Craig Kimbrel could all be acquired by the Twins if they were to pay the Padres asking price.
Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports writes that the Twins are targeting Benoit as an addition to their team. The farm system of the Minnesota Twins is very deep and the team could easily part with some prospects in order to gain that extra edge towards a playoff run. Benoit and Kimbrel could solidify their bullpen and that is what the team needs at the moment. Also, add the fact the Padres could help the Twins with starting pitching, and a deal could very well happen.
Ian Kennedy will most likely be shopped around by A.J. Preller. He is scheduled to be a free agent after the season and the Padres really have no need to sign him long-term. He will be dealt or packaged in a deal for prospects. Kennedy could be very useful for a team looking for a starter at the back of their rotation who can eat up innings. Andrew Cashner and Tyson Ross make interesting trade targets as well. Cashner is probably the most likely of the two to be dealt. Cashner is scheduled for free agency after the 2016 season and has not shown a willingness to re-sign long-term.
The Padres could easily fill some needs on the Twins pitching staff. There is no question about that. The question is what kind of return could the Padres get? Right off the bat Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Alex Meyer are off the table. Those are very highly touted prospects and the Twins would most surely not deal any of those three prospects in a any deal. With that being said, the Twins still have many useful prospects that could help build the Padres farm system.
Nick Gordon was the 5th overall pick in the 2014 draft by the Twins. He is the son of Tom Gordon and the brother of Dee Gordon. The youngest Gordon is 19 years old and has a great blood line. He has excelled very early through the Twins Minor League system and the young shortstop is right on the cusp of being deemed untouchable by the team. The Twins could very well decide to hold onto Gordon, but they have another young middle infielder who could help the Padres.
Jorge Polanco is a 22-year-old switch hitting middle infielder. He has played second base mostly during his professional career, but in 2014 made the transition to shortstop full-time. He has been rather productive in the move and could easily complete the transition into an everyday shortstop. Polanco is currently hitting .306 with four home runs and 31 RBI’s in the Twins Minor League system. Polanco could probably be acquired by the Padres as the Twins already have young shortstop Danny Santana in the Major Leagues.
Another couple of players that interest the Padres are center fielder Aaron Hicks and first baseman Kennys Vargas. The fleet-footed Hicks is a fantastic defensive center fielder. Last season at Petco Park, he put on a show in center field with his diving catches and rocket-armed throws. The switch-hitter has had trouble making constant contact and is a work in progress offensively. He is 6 foot 2 and 210 lbs so he should develop some power in time. Hicks is hitting .252 with three home runs and six RBI’s in 115 at bats. He just returned from the DL where a right forearm strain disabled him. Hicks is a great defensive player and should not cost the Padres all that much. The Twins already have super prospect Byron Buxton in the Major Leagues so Hicks is expendable.
Kennys Vargas is a switch hitting first baseman who reminds people a lot of David Ortiz. Like Vargas, Ortiz started in the Twins organization and needed a new beginning to blossom. Vargas has unreal power from both sides of the plate. The 6 foot 5 inch 290 lb Puerto Rican is not known for his defense though. In fact his defense is currently sub par. At the age of 24, Vargas could easily work on his fielding if it meant playing everyday in the show. Vargas has been shuttled back and forth between Triple-A and Minnesota and the Twins would surely part with him if the price was right.
Any way you look at it the Padres are bound to make multiple deals. One would figure both Ian Kennedy and Joaquin Benoit are a given to be traded. Will Venable will also be dealt as the team has no intention of keeping him around as a fourth outfielder. With Melvin Upton Jr.on the roster, the Padres hands might be tied with Venable. The certainly cannot afford to pay Upton Jr and Venable a top salary to sit on the bench.
General manager A.J. Preller is going to be very active in the next few weeks. The Padres scouts are already visiting other teams and scouting their Minor League systems. The Padres still plan on competing in the next few seasons so this trade flurry will be more of a reshuffling rather than a fire sale. Yes some popular Padres players will be dealt, but the return they will fetch will help stabilize this franchise for the future. A small price to pay for actually having a team that competes and wins ballgames. Let the trades begin!