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BALL FIVE: Twins faced with difficult question as trade deadline looms

While most Major League Baseball teams are enjoying the All-Star break or in full-on tank mode, the Minnesota Twins are once again painfully in the middle of the road.
Going into the mid-season break in the nation’s capital, the Twins finished a 9-2 homestand in which they played the league’s worst, Baltimore Orioles, the AL Central dwelling, Kansas City Royals and the barely above .500, Tampa Bay Rays.
Before the homestand the Twins were clearly sellers, but now that they find themselves just seven and a half games back of the Cleveland Indians the answer is much less clear.
For the second time in as many years, it looks like the Twins could actually make a run for the playoffs in the second half of the season.
Twins fans will remember that last year at the MLB Trade Deadline, that the Twins were sellers. After acquiring Jaime Garcia, they shipped him to the New York Yankees and traded reliever Brandon Kintzler to the Nationals. Despite all of that, the Twins made a wild card spot.
The question is: what should they do this year? Sell? Buy? Stand pat?
Minnesota has just three current players on their roster with guaranteed contracts for next year, making it seem as if they are ready to clean house.
The Twins could trade some of their expiring contracts to position needy playoff contenders, like the Milwaukee Brewers, who clearly have an infielder need. The Twins could ship second baseman, Brian Dozier, and utility infielder, Eduardo Escobar, to the Brew Crew. Starter Lance Lynn could even be a potential target for Milwaukee, as they try and bolster their pitching staff for a playoff run. Lynn has struggled to this point in a Twins uniform and owns a 5.22 earned run average.
Reliever, Zach Duke, is set to be a free agent at the end of the season as well and has posted a 3.38 earned run average with a 3-3 record. There likely won’t be a huge return for a reliever like Duke from a playoff-bound team.
Kyle Gibson picked a good year to have his best season in a Twins uniform. The 30-year-old right hander has thrown 115 innings and owns a 3.42 earned run average, his career best over 19 starts. Gibson could contribute to a pitcher-needy team like the Seattle Mariners or Oakland Athletics. Gibson enters the 2019 offseason arbitration eligible, which means the Twins might not feel motivated to move him and hang on to him for a run next year.
At some point, the Twins are going to have to sit down and talk to the players that are set to be free agents. If they aren’t willing to listen to offers from the Twins, then there’s no doubt they should be traded for pieces.
Looking ahead to the second half of the season, the Twins play 36 of the remaining 68 games against teams that have a winning record, including 11 against the AL Central leading, Cleveland Indians. If they hope to make any sort of run, they have to win at least seven of the 11.
The Indians have a pretty weak second half schedule and play just 16 of their 67 remaining games against teams with winning records.
If the price is right, the Twins should have no issue selling some of their pieces, as this year’s playoff hopes seem to be a mirage.