Thanks to yet another miraculous Dodgers comeback (LAD 6, MIN 5), the Twins lost their fourth straight game Wednesday night. It was also their 10th loss in their last 14 games. Minnesota led Wednesday's game 5-0 at one point. The tying run scored when rookie center fielder Zach Granite threw to first base with no one covering. Ouch.
Here's video of the Dodgers' comeback win:
That the Twins managed to hang around the AL Central race as long as they did is pretty impressive. First of all, they're a rebuilding team and not many people expected them to contend in 2017. Secondly, their run differential (minus-73 right now) suggested they were playing well over their heads. A crash back to Earth was not completely unexpected.
Because the Twins have slipped in the standings -- they're four games back of the second wild card spot with three teams ahead of them -- it's entirely possible Minnesota will become a seller prior to Monday's non-waiver trade deadline. That's even after acquiring rental starter Jaime Garcia from the Braves earlier this week. If nothing else, selling is a consideration:
The Twins do have a few impending free agents who would be attractive to contenders, including Garcia and All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler. Garcia getting traded twice within a week would be unusual but not unprecedented. Most famously, Mike Piazza was traded from the Dodgers to the Marlins, then from the Marlins to the Mets within the span of eight days in 1998.
Ervin Santana would certainly be an attractive trade chip as well, especially since he is not a rental. His contract includes a $13.5 million salary for 2018 with a $14 million club option for 2019. Those terms make him a downright bargain relative to the rest of the pitching market. Santana, like the Twins, has crashed back to Earth lately, pitching to a 5.46 ERA in his last 10 starts. He still has a 3.37 ERA overall this year and is a proven workhorse. He's very valuable.
The Twins, to their credit, made an effort to improve prior to the trade deadline. They brought in Garcia hoping he would solidify their pitching staff. The team has continued to struggle, however, and now the front office has to seriously consider selling before the July 31 deadline to put the club in the best possible position going forward. Going from a buyer to a seller within a week is a pretty rare, though that's what the Twins may do this year.