MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Twins badly needed pitching and weren’t afraid to part with multiple promising minor leaguers to get it.
They weren’t willing to budge with some of the youngsters they already have in the majors, though. Despite their injuries and flaws, the Twins were adamant about adding to their first-place club.
The Twins stocked up their sputtering staff Tuesday leading right up to the trade deadline, acquiring All-Star closer Jorge Lopez from the Baltimore Orioles, starter Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds and reliever Michael Fulmer from the Detroit Tigers as they gave up a total of eight prospects in three separate deals.
“It’s exciting for the people in the clubhouse. It’s exciting for the people upstairs in the room who are pulling all of these discussions together and making these things happen. I think it’s equally as exciting for the fans at home, too,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “It gives you energy.”
The 29-year-old Lopez is in the middle of a breakout season for the Orioles, with a stellar 1.68 ERA and 19 of his 20 career saves. The 27-year-old Mahle is 5-7 with a 4.40 ERA in 19 starts with 114 strikeouts over 104 1/3 innings for the Reds. The 29-year-old Fulmer has a 3.20 ERA with 39 strikeouts in 39 1/3 innings for the Tigers, who sent him down the hallway in the last-minute swap before they played the Twins at Target Field.
Minnesota also acquired veteran catcher Sandy Leon from division rival Cleveland in a lesser trade that sent minor league pitcher Ian Hamilton to the Guardians.
The Twins, who took a one-game lead in the AL Central into their game against the Tigers on Tuesday night, have a 5.30 team ERA since the All-Star break.
“We believe in this team. We said it from the get-go. We felt that way all year,” president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. “We wanted to try to find a way to supplement it.”
Lopez and Fulmer join a Twins team that has been desperate to find reliable late-inning options beyond Jhoan Duran. Griffin Jax has been a find after his conversion from a starting role in 2021, but Emilio Pagan was recently moved into lower-leverage situations and Tyler Duffey has an ERA (4.57) almost two runs higher than his cumulative total of the previous three seasons.
With 17 walks, 54 strikeouts and a .174 opponent batting average in 48 1/3 innings, Lopez has produced quite the turnaround after taking a 6.04 career ERA into this season. He previously split his time…