We're nearly at the all-star break, which means we're a fair way past the first half of the season but everyone's required to refer to it as the first half anyway. It's also a good time to look back on what has transpired thus far and what I hope to see in the 2nd half, mainly because that's what everyone does at the all-star break. The most exciting part of the second half for a non-contending team is the trade deadline, so here's what the Twins should be looking to do:
First off, the Twins are not contending for the Wild Card, so put that out of your silly little head right now. They are currently 9.5 out of the second Wild Card spot with six teams either ahead of tied with them. It's not happening, no matter how optimistic Dan Gladden wants you to be. In that case, the Twins need to be ready and willing to sell off anybody and everybody who isn't a clear part of their future plans. That means everybody outside of Joe Mauer (untradeable in any case), Brian Dozier, Danny Santana, Oswaldo Arcia, Kyle Gibson, and probably Eduardo Escobar (just in case he's actually good) should be available for the right trade, and yes I'm including Glen Perkins.
Perkins is an elite level closer - yes elite - who is having the unluckiest year of his career (career high BABIP and career low LOB%) and is still putting up good numbers including a career best K/9 and BB/9. Considering he'll make just about $17 million through 2017 with a team option for $6.5 mil in 2018, he's an extremely valuable commodity - assuming you can find a team who overvalues relief pitching. The Twins won't be a contender until at least 2016 in my opinion, so if you can get a monster offer for Perkins you have two more seasons to develop a new closer. The Tigers, Jays, Yankees, and Angels all rank in the bottom 10 in the majors in bullpen ERA and all have deep pockets and are known to make splashy moves when deemed necessary. It's probably worth making a phone call, or at least answering the phone.
The other player I'd consider tradeable, but only for a great offer is Phil Hughes. Not because I think he's suddenly become Cy Young, but because you do need to field a full rotation next season and with any luck they find a way to unload Ricky Nolasco and Kevin Correia for.......something. Hughes has looked rejuvenated this year, and there's enough behind his numbers to at least suggest this isn't a fluke. He's signed to a very affordable deal ($8m per) and is signed through 2016, so if the Twins hold on to him they'll have him through that first season where I'm hoping they're competing for a playoff spot (2016).
The only other guy I would even consider holding out and passing on trading if you don't get a really good offer is Trevor Plouffe. It's pretty clear who he is at this point - a .240ish hitter with good pop, decent plate discipline, and decent defense at 3B - not a monster asset but a pretty decent player. Considering he's under team control through 2017 and is making just $2.4m he's a pretty good value, so there's no reason to rush on him. That being said, with Miguel Sano theoretically on the way and hopefully entrenched at third by 2016, he's not a necessary cog so any above market trade offer should be jumped on.
Literally everyone else is eminently tradeable, although most either have an unwieldy contract (Nolasco) or are just plain old too crappy to be considered desirable by anyone (everyone else). Two guys who should hold enough value who absolutely need to be traded are Josh Willingham and Kurt Suzuki. Willingham is a free agent after this season and it's doubtful the Twins will resign him, so come trade deadline dangle him out there and take whatever the top offer is - there's absolutely zero reason for Willingham to finish the season on the Twins' roster.
Suzuki is a bit more complicated, given that he's having a career year, made the All-Star team, and seems so much like Gardy's kind of guy it's actually painful. On the other hand, he's on a one year deal and some of his numbers look pretty fluky. Suzuki could be an ideal fill-in for a contending team needing catching help, whether just for depth or because of an injury, and Suzuki has hit well enough this year that he could offer help at DH or simply pinch hitting as well. The Orioles lead the AL East but have very little at catcher now that they've lost Matt Wieters, while they're getting chased by Toronto who has gotten nothing this year from the position. The Dodgers are another potential trade partner considering Drew Butera leads all Dodger catchers in plate appearances this season.
In the bullpen there's probably some potential to move Jared Burton, Casey Fien, and Brian Duensing. Burton is putting up career worst numbers but should have enough of a track record to garner some interest from a pitching starved quasi-contender. He's on the hook for a $3.6m team option next year with a buyout of just $200k, so it's not like any team would be making a major investment to acquire him. Fien is putting up his third straight solid season and is under team control all the way through 2018 so I could see holding on to him - maybe he's the future closer if they get a overwhelming offer for Perkins and actually pull the trigger. Duensing has pretty much established who he is at this point, but his ERA is at his career low even if his peripherals aren't any better than usual and he's been very good against lefties in his career so he could draw some interest. Hopefully.
Simply put, the Twins aren't going anywhere for at least another season and they have enough trade chips here that they should make this next month pretty interesting - SHOULD. Willingham and Suzuki really should be traded and if the management likes them that much they'll have the opportunity to bring them back a la Rick Aguilera. At least one out of Burton and Duensing should be traded, and there are other guys who could draw interest including blockbuster potential with Perkins. It should be fun leading up to the trade deadline. Yet somehow I get the feeling it will be all anticipation with no pay-off. Again. At some point this organization needs to realize they aren't developing players like they used to, and get more aggressive with trades and free agency (to be fair we did see a little of this last offseason) in order to get back to being competitive. Or just keep missing the playoffs.
[EDIT: Just realized I somehow completely forgot Kendrys Morales. Absolutely needs to be traded. Hopefully he gets hot again.]