Twins direct focus towards the long-term by trading Jaime Garcia

OAKLAND, CA - JULY 28: Manager Paul Molitor
OAKLAND, CA - JULY 28: Manager Paul Molitor /

The Minnesota Twins traded Jaime Garcia to the Yankees for a pair of pitching prospects. A move that shows Twins management is focused on the long-term now.

The Jaime Garcia era of Minnesota Twins baseball didn’t last long after he was traded to the New York Yankees Sunday morning in exchange for Zack Littell and Dietrich Enns. Just six days after acquiring the left-hander from the Braves, the Twins decided to flip him for a pair of pitching prospects.

Garcia, 31, pitched one game for the Twins, a 6-3 win over the Oakland Athletics. He went 6 2/3 innings allowing 3 runs on 8 hits, ending a 4-game losing streak in the process. The start brought Garcia’s record to 5-7 and his earned run average to 4.29, respectable numbers for a back-of-the-rotation starter.

Yet, that wasn’t enough to keep him in a Twins uniform.

Seven games back of the Cleveland Indians for first place in the AL Central, the Twins are sitting in a much different place than they were six days ago. After spending much of the season in contention for first, the Twins’ slide in the last week has management thinking towards the future.

If your honest with yourself, it’s hard to argue against that frame of mind. Minnesota wasn’t expected to be in contention heading into the season. Yet, when they were still in the mix after the All-Star break, they started to turn heads.

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Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey may have been the most surprised as he was forced to look into moves to improve the club. It’d be a disservice to the team not to.

So, when the Twins acquired Garcia, the move seemed worth it. They got another arm for a struggling starting rotation without giving up any of their top prospects. Basically, they set themselves up well for the short and long-term.

But, after a 3-game sweep to the Los Angeles Dodgers, the Twins’ playoff chances plummeted. Of course, hot streaks by the Indians and Kansas City Royals didn’t help either. Even so, the piling up of losses made the Garcia trade look worse considering he’d leave for free agency after the season.

Yes, the Twins only lost rookie ball pitcher Huascar Ynoa. Yet, Garcia isn’t an asset to the Twins if they aren’t in playoff contention. While the season isn’t over, their chances aren’t great. In fact, according to FanGraphs, they have a 6.6 percent chance of making the playoffs.

Consequently, the Twins had no choice but to trade Garcia as they direct their focus towards the long-term. In fact, Twins fans should be pleased by what they got in return for the veteran. Essentially, they added a pair of prospects way further along than the prospect they sent to the Braves. I’d even say they came out on top. Let’s take a look.

Little, 21, was ranked as the 22nd-best prospect in the Yankees farm system, but now ranks as the 16th-best prospect in the Twins’ system, per He’s the player to watch in this deal as many think he can become a steady back end starter in a MLB rotation. On the year, he is 14-1 with a very good 1.87 ERA between the Yankees’ advanced Single-A and Double-A affiliates. For his career, he has a 35-24 record and 3.24 ERA in the minors.

The 6-foot-4, 220 pound right-hander boasts a low 90s fastball, but mixes in an above average curveball as well as a changeup. He doesn’t have the ability to blow a hitter away, but he has a solid 8.5 strikeouts per 9 innings to go along with a 4.74 strikeouts per walk ratio this season. He should make his mark with the Twins in a couple seasons. Maybe sooner given the state of the Twins’ pitching staff.

As for Enns, the 26-year old put up great numbers for the Yankees’ Triple-A affiliate and is expected to join Triple-A Rochester in the Twins’ organization. He spent two months on the DL, but in 7 starts, he has a 2.29 ERA with a 1-1 record. He doesn’t project highly, but has outstanding minor leagues statistics, including a 27-14 record and 1.87 ERA.

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The left-hander could very well find himself on the Twins roster in a starting or long-relief role during this season. If the Twins continue their slump, they would be wise to see what they have in Enns sooner than later.

Nevertheless, when you look at what the Twins got from the Yankees, it’s safe to say that they added a pair of prospects that are far ahead of the 19-year old Ynoa. In the process, they get better in the long-term, which is now the focus for a team that isn’t quite ready for the playoffs.

While the Twins had a great run, it’s time to sell. It’s time to build for the long term future of the franchise and trading Garcia for a couple prospects is just a start.

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