The Minnesota Twins seem to have a wide window to win, but they need to take the opportunity to go all-in for this year and get Noah Syndergaard.
Since early June, the Minnesota Twins have seen their lead in the AL Central trimmed from 11.5 to two games as the Cleveland Indians have mowed through a soft schedule. They are clearly looking for pitching help, and according to La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune the Twins have had discussions with the New York Mets about Noah Syndergaard.
The Mets seemed to change course on Syndergaard, as ESPN’s Buster Olney reported earlier this week they are “fully intent” on moving him before next Wednesday’s trade deadline. They are aiming high in what kind of return they want, with Marc Carig of The Athletic added the Mets want a “top 30 prospect” and other “solid pieces” for Syndergaard.
So it’s no surprise that Neal added the Mets are focused on Minnesota’s top two prospects, shortstop Royce Lewis and outfielder Alex Kirilloff. But those two, and pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol, have been a non-starter for the Twins to this point in any trade talks.
Lewis was the No. 1 overall pick in 2017, and a top-10 prospect in all of baseball across the board entering this year (MLB.com, Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, FanGraphs). He is still young for High-A ball (20), but he is only hitting .243/.295/.384 over 410 plate appearances at Fort Myers so far this season.
Kirilloff was ranked as a top-15 prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com (No. 9) and Baseball America (No. 15) entering the season. He hasn’t replicated what he did last year, but a .284/.351/.403 slash-line over 261 plate appearances thus far with the step up to Double-A Pensacola is solid. Fellow outfield prospect Trevor Larnach has also surfaced on radar of scouts as the Twins look to get a starting pitcher, but he’s not quite as well-regarded as Kirilloff and presumably doesn’t appeal to the Mets as much in a deal for Syndergaard.
At first glance, the Twins have a young core that should sustain this year’s kind of success for a chunk of years going forward. But that doesn’t disqualify a move for Syndergaard, who turns 27 in late August and has two more years of team control left after this year.
A top of the rotation duo of Syndergaard and Jose Berrios would be formidable for the rest of 2019, and ideally no less than two more seasons. That idea should be of real interest to the Twins.
It’s hard to mortgage the future for short-term reinforcements, and the past front office regime for the Twins was loath to pull the trigger on big moves as a trade deadline buyer. But prospects can quickly become suspects, and Syndergaard is a known quantity who seems to need a change of scenery.
There’s an opportunity for Minnesota to go all-in for this year by getting Syndergaard, and also put a second rotation ace in place beyond this year. If it means Lewis or Kirilloff (or even both) end up gone, that’s the cost of doing business in the market for high-end pitching and the Twins have to be willing to pony up.