Almost exactly a year ago, the Twins walked out of the trade deadline with a sense of grim resignation.
It was clear, for months before that point, honestly, that the team wouldn’t be a playoff team in 2021 and probably not in 2022 without a dramatic overhaul of the pitching staff. So the team got rid of beloved players, including starter José Berríos and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and refocused on the future.
The mood was noticeably more upbeat Tuesday as the AL Central-leading Twins added three pitchers: starter Tyler Mahle, reliever Michael Fulmer from the Tigers and closer Jorge Lopez from the Orioles. who can contribute immediately in the field without giving up on anyone. active payroll.
“It feels so much better, there’s no other way to put it,” said Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations. “… We felt like with the group that we have in that room, the culture that we have, we wanted to try to add to it and not disarm it.”
The Twins’ reluctance to part ways with any of their active players was part of the reason all of the club’s deals occurred hours before Tuesday’s 5:00 pm deadline. Falvey said the team was working on Lopez’s deal Monday night, but he made it official the next morning.
Mahle followed in the afternoon before Fulmer had the unique experience of walking from the visiting Target Field clubhouse to the hometown, with the assembled media filming every step, less than two hours before his former team faced his new equipment.
“It seems like we’re making the right moves to gain volume, and that’s always great. As a player, you want to feel like the front office is putting the best product on the field to help you win a championship.”
For Lopez, the Twins said goodbye to four minor league pitchers, three of whom were international free agents: Yennier Cano, who pitched in 10 games for the Twins this season; 2021 third-round draft pick Cade Povich; and rookie league arms Juan Núñez and Juan Rojas.
Lopez warmed up in the eighth inning of the Twins’ 5-3 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night.
For Mahle, minor league infielders Christian Encarnacion-Strand (a 2021 fifth-round draft pick) and Spencer Steer (a 2019 third-round draft pick), as well as minor league pitcher Steve Hajjar (a 2021 draft pick). 2021 second round). For Fulmer, minor league pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, who was a sixth-round draft pick in 2019.
The Twins also made a Class AAA trade. Catcher Sandy Leon will report to the Saints while pitcher Ian Hamilton will now be part of the Guardians’ system.
In the 29-year-old Lopez, the Twins win an American League All-Star Game in 2022 with a 1.68 ERA and 19 saves amid his first full-time closer role in his seven-year career. At Mahle, 27, he’s started 19 games this season going 5-7 with a 4.40 ERA. In Fulmer, 29, a bullpen arm with a 3.20 ERA who holds opponents to a .203 batting average.
And they all come with a certain sense of familiarity. Fulmer is from Oklahoma and was a first-round pick in 2011, as was Twins starter Dylan Bundy. Mahle and Sonny Gray were in the Reds’ rotation together from 2019-21. López will join fellow Puerto Rican natives Carlos Correa, José Miranda and Jovani Moran.
“It looks like we’re making the right moves to increase volume, and that’s always great. As a player, you want to feel like front office is putting the best product on the field to help you win a championship,” Correa said. . “And so far during this term, we feel like they’re doing it. They’re giving us an opportunity, a better opportunity, to go out there and compete with the best.”
Correa said he’s had a lot of discussions with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli in the last week or so with his ideas about what the front office should do at the deadline. Correa’s priority was protecting “untouchable” Miranda, who just won the American League Rookie of the Month award after hitting .353 in July.
However, one issue Correa has yet to discuss with the Twins is his long-term future in Minnesota. Correa has options for the next two seasons, and there was some speculation that the Twins might want to trade him at the trade deadline and not risk losing him for free in the offseason. Falvey said that was never a consideration. Correa has just conveyed how happy his wife and young son are here, which is a major factor in his final decision.
But that’s a decision both sides will come up with for now and come back to once the Twins have won the World Series.
A goal that does not seem so far after Tuesday’s fortifications.
“It gives you energy. You show up and you feel like we have a few more weapons here than we did the day before,” Baldelli said. “…It should be fun for the next couple of months. I know we’re looking forward to it, and [Tuesday did] wonders”.