Almost exactly a year ago, the Twins emerged from the trade deadline with a grim sense of resignation.
It was clear — for months before this point, honestly — that the team wouldn’t be a playoff team in 2021 and probably not in 2022 without a drastic overhaul of the pitching staff. So the team eliminated beloved players, including starter Jose Berrios and designated hitter Nelson Cruz, and refocused on the future.
The atmosphere was decidedly more upbeat on Tuesday, as the AL Central-leading Twins brought in three pitchers — starter Tyler Mahle, Tigers reliever Michael Fulmer and Orioles closest Jorge Lopez — who can immediately contribute. in the field without abandoning anyone on the active roster.
“It’s a lot better, no other way to put it,” said Derek Falvey, president of baseball operations. “…We felt like with the band that we have in this room, the culture that we have, we wanted to try to add to it and not take it apart.”
The Twins’ resistance to parting ways with one of their active players was part of the reason all of the club’s deals took place hours before the 5 p.m. deadline on Tuesday. Falvey said the team was working on the Lopez deal late Monday night, but made it official the next morning.
Mahle followed in the afternoon before Fulmer had the unique experience of walking from the Target Field clubhouse to the original one – with gathered media filming his every step – less than two hours before his old team won’t face his new team.
“It looks like we’re making the right choices to scale up, 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 parted ways with four minor league pitchers, three of whom were international free agent rookies: Yennier Cano, who pitched 10 games for the Twins this season; Cade Povich, 2021 third-round draft pick; 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.
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) second round in 2021). For Fulmer, minor league pitcher Sawyer Gipson-Long, who was a sixth-round pick in the 2019 draft.
The Twins also completed a Class AAA trade. Receiver 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 earn a 2022 AL All-Star with a 1.68 ERA and 19 saves amid his first full-time role closer to his seven-year career. At Mahle, 27, started 19 games this season with a 5-7 record and 4.40 ERA. In the 29-year-old Fulmer, a bullpen arm with a 3.20 ERA that keeps opponents at a .203 batting average.
And all arrive with a certain sense of familiarity. Fulmer is an Oklahoman and was a first-round pick in 2011, along with Twins starter Dylan Bundy. Mahle and Sonny Gray were part of the Reds’ rotation together from 2019-21. Lopez will join fellow Puerto Rico natives Carlos Correa, Jose Miranda and Jovani Moran.
“It looks like we’re making the right moves to scale up, and that’s always great. As a player, you want to feel like the front office is putting the best product on the pitch to help you win a championship. “, Correa said. . “And so far in this deadline, we feel like they’re doing it. They’re giving us a chance, a better chance, to go out there and compete with the best of them.”
Correa said he had many discussions with Twins manager Rocco Baldelli over the past week or so with his ideas on what the front office should do at the deadline. Correa’s priority was protecting the “untouchable” Miranda, who just won the AL Rookie of the Month award after hitting .353 in July.
One topic Correa has yet to discuss with the Twins, however, is his long-term future in Minnesota. Correa has options for the next two seasons, and there was speculation the Twins might want to trade him at the deadline and not risk losing him for free in the offseason. Falvey said that was never a consideration. Correa just said how happy his wife and young son are both here, which is a big factor in his final decision.
But it’s a decision both sides will make for now and come back to once the Twins have hopefully won the World Series.
A goal that does not seem so far after the fortifications on Tuesday.
“It gives you energy. For example, you show up and you feel like we have a bit more guns here than the day before,” Baldelli said. “…It should be fun for the next two months. I know we’re looking forward to it, and [Tuesday did] wonders.”