The Minnesota Twins entered the season with playoff aspirations. Scratch that, they were passed playoff aspirations, they had aspirations to make it to the World Series. The Twins currently own the major league record for most consecutive playoff losses at 18. The streak is active.
Minnesota has won the AL Central crown the past two seasons. Even with the White Sox developing into a top contender, many baseball experts still had the Twins at or near the top of the division when the season started. ESPN ranked Minnesota as the sixth-best team in baseball, one spot ahead of the White Sox. That didn't come to fruition
Minnesota currently sits 17 games being the White Sox in the standings. There will be no shot at ending the playoff series win drought.
Losing Buxton to another set of injuries certainly hurt, but they were struggling before Buxton's first injury. There is young talent on the team, but they are clearly a seller at the deadline. They are a unique seller, however, as they will look to compete next year. They will only look to trade players who have expiring contracts this year.
The rest of 2021 will serve as an evaluation and preparation for the 2022 season. Twins fans won't have the playoffs to look forward to (if they look forward to them given the streak) so, instead, they will look at the young talent of the future. There are few players in the MLB with a brighter future than Alex Kiriloff.
The 23-year-old outfielder sits comfortably in the top 20 of every prospect ranking, some placing him inside the top 10. His bat specifically receives high praise. Scouts give his hit tool and power 60 grades, expecting him to be a middle-of-the-order bat for the next decade. While he has experienced the expected struggles of a rookie this season, he has shown flashes of the power the Minnesota organization and fans are hoping for. Unfortunately, they won't see any more than the eight homers he has hit thus far.
Kiriloff underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his right wrist. The wrist has been problematic for Kiriloff all season, forcing him to the injured list in May, shortly after his first call-up to the majors. Given the Twins' current place in the standings, there was no reason to delay the inevitable. The expected recovery timeline is eight weeks, putting a return date near the end of the season. There is no reason to rush him back. The Minnesota training staff expects Kiriloff's season is over.
It is another blow for Twins fans, further cementing 2021 as a lost season. The trade deadline will likely be mild for Minnesota, as they have few players they are willing to deal who other teams would be interested in. Perhaps they trade Berrios, but the haul would have to be massive and include major league players, not prospects. Instead, the Twins will likely explore some potential deals to bolster next year team, threading the fine line of being a buyer and seller.
They should be better next year. The key will be keeping their stars healthy. Add Kiriloff to that list of players.
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