Next up in the trade deadline series is one of the more underrated young pitchers in the game in Jose Berrios. He may not really be available, but he probably shouldn’t have been, anyway, since the Twins were expected by some to represent the American League in the World Series this year. Oops.
The Dodgers and Twins are no strangers when it comes to making trades. They’ve made two trades since 2018.
- 2018: Brian Dozier for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer
- 2020: Brusdar Graterol and Raley for Kenta Maeda and Jair Camargo
And the Dodgers were involved in the original Dozier rumors back in the 2016-17 offseason. However, a deal that would satisify both sides might be challenging — more on that later in the post.
Berrios, 27, is still under team control through the 2022 season, so his trade value will rival what it might take to get Scherzer. He’s having his best season to date. He owns a 3.48 ERA, 3.41 FIP and an 18.9 K-BB% — all of which would be career-highs if the season ended today.
He works with a fastball, curveball, changeup and sinker. He throws his fastball and sinker more than 57% of the time. He throws his curveball at a nearly 31% clip, while his changeup — used overwhelmingly against lefties — is thrown 13% of the the time. FanGraphs rates his fastball as a premium pitch, while his curveball carries a negative run value. His changeup is slightly above-average. The interesting thing about his curveball is despite being among the worst of qualified starters, it also carries a 36.1 Whiff%, which would be the second-best of his career.
He could give the Dodgers’ rotation a much-needed boost in terms of innings. He’s averaging 6 innings pitched per starter. The only Dodger starter averaging at least 6 IP (and who isn’t under investigation for sexual assault) is Walker Buehler (6.3 IP/GS). For a team piecing together a starting rotation now and with some questions about middle- and long-relief, a 6 IP/GS starter could be a welcome sight.
The Twins are looking for young talent, and oy have to think they won’t want a ton of low-level lottery tickets in return for their best pitcher. A quick glance at their farm system shows their Top 3 prospects — Royce Lewis, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran — are all in Double-A or Triple-A. However, Lewis is out for the season with a torn ACL suffered in Spring Training, so he won’t be helping the Twins until next season. Balazovic and Duran have thrown just a little more than 50 innings combined. Balazovic, while Duran is in the midst of a shutdown due to an elbow strain.
If they were to trade Berrios, they’d have Balzovic and/or Duran to step in, but probably not until 2022. It may increase the odds they’d trade Berrios, but he isn’t going to come cheap. From The Athletic:
“Berríos would net the Twins a haul if they moved the two-time All-Star. Not only is he in the midst of another great season, but Berríos would be one of the few difference-makers available on the trade market. Early indications are the Twins asked another team that inquired about Berríos for a pre-arb player and two top-100 prospects. The offer was rejected and talks have cooled, but it gives a clear indication the Twins are asking for the world for their top-tier talent.”
So, who on the Dodgers fit that criteria? Remember, the Twins would have to want them and the Dodgers would have to be even slightly willing to trade them.
- Pre-arb: Matt Beaty, Caleb Ferguson, Tony Gonsolin, Brusdar Graterol, Gavin Lux, Dustin May, Sheldon Neuse, Edwin Rios, Mitch White
- Top 100 prospects: Michael Busch, Diego Cartaya, Josiah Gray, Bobby Miller, Ryan Pepiot, Keibert Ruiz, Miguel Vargas
Before we get to the proposal, I’m going to eliminate some of the guys above: Gonsolin, Graterol, Lux, May, Cartaya, Gray, Miller. I don’t see the Dodgers moving any of them in a deal for Berrios — either because they don’t want to or the Twins probably wouldn’t be that interested (I’m looking at you, Bazooka). If Corey Seager and Chris Taylor weren’t free agents after the season, I could see Lux being a centerpiece in a Berrios deal, but it seems unlikely.
The Twins don’t have a catcher among their Top 30 prospects, and Mitch Garver‘s 2019 season is looking more and more like an outlier, so Ruiz could step right in and contribute. Garver is still solid (127 wRC+), but at almost 31 years old, he’s probably not the Twins’ long-term future behind the dish. Carrillo is having a breakout season in Double-A and would give the Twins a different look in a pitching prospect. Lewis is more of a longer-term project, but he has massive power potential and could fill a corner spot for them in the future, as Miguel Sano probably won’t be there for the long run.
The Twins currently have Josh Donaldson as their third baseman. He’s in the second year of a 4-year, $92 million deal. They’d probably love to get off that deal — maybe as soon as July 30, but more likely, in the offseason. If they do move Donaldson, Vargas might be the perfect replacement for him. The Twins don’t have any high-level third base prospects at present, and Vargas could be up as early as 2022. Jackson, fresh of his Futures Game appearance, has one of the highest ceilings among the Dodgers’ pitching prospects, and the Twins done a good job of developing pitchers in their system. Lewis has the look of similar pitching prospects in the Twins’ org, so he might be a good fit for their developmental team and could take over a corner infield spot for them in a a couple years. White would give them a pitcher who could come up right away and either start of relieve.
This deal has been expanded to include left-handed reliever Taylor Rogers, who is good and would fit right into the Dodgers’ bullpen. Carrillo and Ruiz still make a lot of sense for the Twins, while Pepiot might be the biggest get in this deal. He’s having a masterful season with Double-A and while he’s definitely in the Dodgers’ future plans, he doesn’t help them as much as Berrios and Rogers would through the end of the 2022 season. Pages is a big-time right field prospect with plus-power. He’d be a nice get for the Twins in this kind of deal. Ramos, a center fielder, is a low-level lottery ticket who is usually included in deals like this.
There might not be a great match here for the Dodgers and Berrios. Ultimately, I don’t think the Twins deal Berrios. They’d probably have to be blown away to do so. I’m not sure any of the three proposals above fit that category, but each would give their farm system an infusion of youth and potential — something lacking outside of their Top 4-5 prospects.