Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
Michael Cuddyer is due to become a free agent at the end of 2011 season.
The Minnesota Twins have some of the best home-grown talent in the game. Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel and Denard Span are as dynamic a group as there is in baseball, and all of them came up through the Twins system.
With this formula, the Twins have been rather successful over recent years. They have made the playoffs six of the last nine seasons. Yet, they haven't been to the World Series since they won it back in 1991.
And early on in 2011, things have not gone so well for the Twins. They are in last place in the division. They just placed their franchise player, Joe Mauer, on the 15-day disabled list. And they recently lost their Japanese import, Tsuyoshi Nishioka for 4-6 weeks with a broken leg.
Kubel and Cuddyer are each due to become free agents at the end of the 2011 season. Span recently signed a five-year extension with the Twins, who could try to shed payroll by trading the young outfielder. Another promising outfielder, Delmon Young, is arbitration eligible for the final time after this season.
Then there is the pitching staff. Francisco Liriano was the focus of some trade rumors towards the end of spring training, and though he hasn't pitched well so far in 2011, he could become a trade chip if the Twins fall out of contention early. Kevin Slowey, who is now on the 15-day disabled list, was the subject of several trade rumors during spring training as well.
Should the Twins continue to struggle in 2011, don't be surprised to see them try to unload some players and bring up some of their young prospects waiting in the wings—the next generation of home-grown Twins talent.