MLB trade grades: Twins upgrade rotation with Tyler Mahle as Reds deal away another starter

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The trade: The Minnesota Twins acquired RHP Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds for IF Spencer Steer, 3B Christian Strand-Encarnacion and LHP Steve Hajjar.

Heading into the 2020 season, the Reds made a run for it, signing some free agents for the first time in forever, increasing their payroll ... and then COVID-19 hit. They squeaked into the expanded playoffs but lost two games to the Braves -- shut out both times. They then went 83-79 in 2021 and decided to tear the team apart rather than compete. The trade of Mahle completes the exodus of tradable players: Luis Castillo, Tyler Naquin, Sonny Gray, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley, all members of the 2021 squad, are gone.

Let's get to the grades.

The Twins, holding a slim lead over the Guardians in the AL Central, needed a starting pitcher. They're 18th in the majors in rotation ERA; only the Red Sox and Orioles have a lower rotation ERA among playoff contenders. The Twins are also 26th in innings pitched from their starters, so they haven't gotten much length either, putting added pressure on a bullpen that earlier in the day added Jorge Lopez from the Orioles.