As of this writing on Monday morning, we are just a week away from the trade deadline. It still remains to be seen just how active this year’s deadline is going to be compared to some other years, but we know it won’t be totally dead because, well, the Red Sox have already made a deal. Their most obvious player to trade this summer was Brandon Workman, as a closer who is about to hit free agency for a team that is not going to make the playoffs will be traded ten out of ten times. They also sent Heath Hembree along with Workman to the Phillies in their first trade of the season. Despite that being the obvious move, they will certainly be working to make more moves as the week goes on.
One helpful part of this for the Red Sox should theoretically be that there are more teams in contention this season than in a normal year due to the expanded playoff field. That has made it a seller’s market, as most teams are still at least within striking distance of a postseason spot. However, you could also look at the flip side of this equation and argue that the top-tier teams don’t necessarily need to make trades. These are teams that are basically guaranteed a playoff spot at this point, and they may be less incentivized to push all-in for a long playoff run given how weird this season is and that the playoffs start with a best-of-three for everybody. I don’t love looking at things that way, but it’d be naive to think it doesn’t at least cross the teams’ minds.
So, even after the Red Sox have pulled off one deal, I still don’t really know what the landscape of the league will look like over the next week. That said, if elite teams do want to trade, the Twins could be another potential partner for the Red Sox. Right now, Minnesota is the clear top team in the AL Central, sitting with a record of 19-10, though they are just 1.5 games up on the Indians. They have an elite offense, a good rotation and a good bullpen. They are, simply put, just a very good baseball team. They could be motivated to push in more, though, as they have an aging star in Nelson Cruz and they haven’t won a pennant since 1991. This could be the chance. Plus, they don’t have such major needs that they’d need to give up major prospects to improve the roster.
That brings us to what the Red Sox could have to offer to Minnesota, and the main thing that I can see is simply depth. We know that depth can be important in the postseason as the smallest things can swing a series. In Kevin Pillar, the Red Sox have a good fit with this Twins roster. Right now, Byron Buxton is on the injured list, with Jake Cave getting most of the time in center field. Pillar could come in and, at the very least, platoon with cave if not play more than that. When Buxton eventually comes back, Pillar would turn into a right-handed bat off the bench — something they currently don’t have — who can provide some speed and/or defense late in games. (Buxton is an incredible defensive center fielder, of course, but Pillar could sub in a corner if need be.) Plus, with Buxton’s injury history the more outfield depth you can get your hands on, the better.
Pillar, of course, wouldn’t bring back much as a one-month rental for a depth piece, but the Red Sox could sweeten the pot with some bullpen help. The Twins aren’t necessarily desperate for bullpen help, but we know you can never have enough relievers. Matt Barnes is the top reliever in the Red Sox bullpen for now, but that doesn’t really seem like a great fit. For one, he’s struggling right now and the Red Sox may not want to trade him with his value so low. Additionally, the Twins are loaded with right-handed relievers.
Where they are more lacking is from the left side, which brings me to Josh Taylor. His name hasn’t really been brought up in rumors and I’m certainly a big Taylor fan, but there is some merit to exploring a deal for a guy who is going to turn 28 prior to next season. There’s no reason to give him away, but if a team wants to pay for the talent and control — he’s not a free agent until after 2025 — you have to listen. The Twins, while their bullpen is good, have Taylor Rogers from the left side, but nobody else who’s really performing right now. When you get into a postseason atmosphere, you want more than one lefty available to you later in games, particularly when one (Rogers) is your closer.
This isn’t the most exciting trade possibility in the world, but the only semi-likely player to be traded from the Red Sox this week that would be a starter for other teams is J.D. Martinez, and he’s not going to a team with Nelson Cruz. These are the kinds of moves that can really kickstart a rebuild, though. If the Red Sox can find a diamond in a small, depth-oriented deal, they can get their farm up to snuff much more quickly. Pillar, Barnes and even maybe Taylor could be used to try and find a diamond or two from the depths of the Twins system.