THOMA COLUMN | The Twins future ain't what it used to be

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Jul. 5—George Allen, a prominent football coach about a half-century ago, once proclaimed: The future is now.

That was the attitude by which the 2021 Twins were constructed.

Last week, to twist a Tom Petty lyric, the White Sox helped the Twins see the future ain't what it used to be.

One could, entering last week, dream a little. The Twins were going into Chicago for a four-game series with the first-place White Sox.

With the aid of a soft schedule, Minnesota had been racking up some wins. Sweep that series, get the games-behind gap into single digits ... yeah, they're not out of it yet.

That dream dissolved rather quickly. The four-game series turned into a three-game series because of weather, and the Chisox did the sweeping.

The Twins hadn't even gotten to Kansas City before talk of a Josh Donaldson-to-the-Mets trade hit Twitter. (For what it's worth, I doubt that's going to happen.)

So there are no illusions left about the 2021 Twins. They're not winning this division, and they're not getting a wild-card slot.

The front office has to be looking at future years.

And one significant question is how far into the future.

The 2021 Twins were intended to win now.

It's an old roster, even with the likes of Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Luis Arraez in the lineup. And a lot of the veterans — Nelson Cruz, Andrelton Simmons, Michael Pineda, Alex Colome, Hansel Robles, J.A. Happ — are on expiring contracts.

Some of that latter group will be leaving in the next three weeks. The Twins won't gain significant talent in any of those trades, but those departures will likely open some playing time for non-established players.

But there are a lot of issues involving players at the core of the roster.

Miguel Sano is hitting under .200 and striking out a lot. Max Kepler is hitting .200 and popping up a lot; his hard-hit rate has essentially vanished. Bryon Buxton can't stay on the field. Neither can Donaldson.

July figures to be a crossroads month for Derek Falvey, Thad Levine and the rest of the decision-makers. If they think the 2021 disaster is a one-year aberration and this core can return to contention in 2022, their activity leading to the trading deadline should be limited to the expiring contracts.

But if they think a deeper rebuild is needed, then players with more value should be on the block.

Jose Berrios is probably the most valuable trade chip. He's a free agent after 2022, and he will probably never be more coveted by other organizations than he is right now.

Also: It's almost impossible to imagine the 2022 Twins contending without him.

So he's the yardstick by which we can measure Falvine's outlook on the future. A Berrios trade means a hard rebuild; his retention signals optimism.

The future for the Twins is this month.

Edward Thoma is at ethoma@mankatofreepress.com. Twitter @bboutsider.

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