Almost exactly a year ago, the Twins walked out of the trade deadline with a sense of grim resignation.
Honestly, it was clear for months leading up to that point that the team was not going to be a playoff team in 2021. and probably not in 2022. without a dramatic overhaul of the pitching staff. So the team shed beloved players, including starter Jose Berrios and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and focused on the future.
The mood was considerably more optimistic Tuesday as the AL Central-leading Twins brought in three pitchers — starter Tyler Mahle, reliever Michael Fulmer of the Tigers and closer Jorge Lopez of the Orioles — who can contribute right away in the outfield and nothing don’t give up active list.
“It feels a lot better, there’s no other way to say it,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “…We felt like with the group that we have in that room, with the culture that we have, we wanted to try to add to it, not tear it apart.
The Twins’ resistance to parting ways with any of their active players was one of the reasons all of the club’s trades took place hours before Tuesday’s 5 p.m. deadline. Falvey said the team was working on Lopez’s deal late Monday night, but made it official the next morning.
Mahle followed in the afternoon as Fulmer had the unique experience of going from home clubhouse to home clubhouse at Target Field — with the assembled media filming his every move — less than two hours before his former team faced off against his new team.
“It looks like we’re making the right moves to add mass, which is 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 parted with four minor league pitchers, three of whom were international free agents: Yennier Cano, who played in 10 games for the Twins this season; in 2021 third-round pick Cade Povich; and rookie league arms Juan Nuñez and Juan Rojas.
Lopez warmed up in the eighth inning of the Twins’ 5-3 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night.
Mahle, minor leaguers Christian Encarnacion-Strand (2021 fifth-round pick) and Spencer Steer (2019 third-round pick) and minor league pitcher Steve Hajjar (2021 second-round pick). For Fulmer, minor league pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, who in 2019 was a sixth round pick in the draft.
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.
The 29-year-old Lopez twins won the 2022 AL All-Star with a 1.68 ERA and 19 strikeouts in the first stint of his seven-year career. Mahle, 27, has started 19 games this season with a 5-7 record and a 4.40 ERA. The 29-year-old Fulmer has a bullpen arm with a 3.20 ERA, holding opponents to a .203 batting average.
And all come with a certain sense of familiarity. Fulmer is a citizen of Oklahoma and was born in 2011. was a first-round pick, as was Dylan Bundy. Mahle and Sonny Gray 2019-2021 were in the rotation of the “reds” together. Lopez will join fellow Puerto Rican natives Carlos Correa, Jose Miranda and Jovani Morano.
“It feels like we’re making the right moves to increase the grassroots game, 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,” Correa said. . “And so far this term we feel like they’re doing that. They’re giving us a chance, a better chance to go out there and compete with the best of them.”
Correa said he had a lot of discussions with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli last week about his ideas for what the front office should do before the deadline. Correa’s priority was protecting the “untouchable” Miranda, who had just won AL Rookie of the Month honors after hitting .353 in July.
But one topic 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 has been speculation that the Twins may want to trade him before the deadline rather than risk losing him for free in the offseason. Falvey said it was never considered. Correa just conveyed how happy his wife and young son are here, which is a big factor in his final decision.
But that’s a decision that will be up to both sides for now, and will return when the Twins are expected to win the World Series.
A goal that doesn’t seem so far off after Tuesday’s reinforcements.
“It gives you energy. Like, you show up and you feel like we’ve got a little more guns here than we did the day before,” Baldelli said. “… It should be fun for the next couple of months. I know we are looking forward to it and [Tuesday did] miracles”.