Show of hands: At the beginning of the season, who thought the Twins would be a playoff team this year, and maybe a dark-horse World Series pick?

Now who thought they would be 10 or more games behind .500 at the All-Star Break?

The 2021 Minnesota Twins have to be one of the most disappointing teams in recent memory. After winning the division both in 2019 and the pandemic-shortened 2020 season - and retaining most of the big bats that helped win them - the Twins were a team I and many others were expecting big things from.

Thus far, the team has fallen flat on its face in spectacular fashion.

In April, I was really high on the Twins. Heck, maybe they were going to finally break that postseason losing streak. Instead, I’m now halfway expecting a big ol’ roster overhaul.

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The trade deadline is Friday, July 30. By July 31, I think we can expect the Twins’ roster to look significantly different.

Let’s start by talking about Nelson Cruz. The Twins’ loveable, seemingly ageless designated hitter has been playing fairly well (.299 batting average, 18 home runs) and would probably love nothing more than to be on a team making a playoff push. He’s on a one-year contract, which is something loved by contending teams looking to add a little punch to their roster for the fall, and the Twins could actually get a fair amount of value for him. I think it’s fairly safe to say he’s gone.

Another one that I could easily see departing is starting pitcher Jose Berrios. He is another one who is having a solid start to the season, despite his teammates’ “best” efforts, with a 7-3 record and a strikeout-to-walk ratio of nearly four to one. You know what that means? It means some contending team would likely pay top-dollar to shore up any potential pitching issues before the season ends. Even if there is no grand-scale roster overhaul, I think Berrios will be moving on either way.

Perhaps a slightly more bold prediction here, but I think third baseman Josh Donaldson is out of here as well. When he’s on the field, he isn’t too bad for the team. However, he missed half of the games last year and has missed 20 games this year already. I think the team would be interested in moving on.

Perhaps one thing holding back a Donaldson trade is his contract. He’s locked up for two more seasons and he makes $23 million per year. When he’s healthy, that is probably a no-brainer for a lot of teams looking for a talented veteran, like a former MVP, but he’s missed a solid chunk of time in five of his past six seasons and that may make some teams wary. Maybe he would have to be bundled into a trade with Berrios or some draft picks, but I see his departure as a real possibility.

The one piece of true star quality I expect the Twins to hold onto is centerfielder Byron Buxton. The poor guy has struggled to stay healthy this year (and in years past), which is incredibly unfortunate since when he is on the field, he just may be one of the very best players in baseball. I just don’t think the team is ready to give up on him yet, and I don’t blame them.

At the All-Star Break, the Twins are 15 games out of the division lead. I suppose that means they aren’t technically out of this yet, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable for myself, the fans and maybe even the Twins’ front office to treat this as a lost season. Some of the key pieces of the team (Cruz, Berrios) will need new contracts if they stick around next year, and I think management will see that as an opportunity to rebuild, regardless of whether the team truly needs it.

I kind of hope I’m wrong, because I think this team could still be special in another year or so, but personally, I get the feeling this team is heading back to the drawing board.

Dan Determan may be reached at 218-855-5879 or dan.determan@pineandlakes.com. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/@PEJ_Dan.