COMMENTARY | And the big piece for the Minnesota Twins to move at the July 31 trade deadline was … Drew Butera. Twins fans can be disappointed that nothing else happened but shouldn't be surprised.
The Twins have a long history of not doing much in trades before August. For many years, the Twins have taken a conservative approach to making player transactions. They won't be goaded into something just because of some silly time limit.
Not that there would have been much return this year for what the Twins could have and wanted to offer. Justin Morneau was the primary player they wanted to move due to his contract expiring at the end of the year, but his lack of power, history of injuries, and prolonged July slump made his value plummet.
With Oswaldo Arcia and Chris Parmelee both heating up in Class AAA Rochester, the Twins could have been considering trading Josh Willingham to make room for them, but Willingham is on the disabled list while he recovers from knee surgery.
Starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey had four good starts in July and looked to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, so a contender might have seen him as capable of adding solid depth to a rotation. However, Pelfrey got knocked out early by the Royals in his July 30 start in front of numerous scouts, which made his trade value take a hit as well.
About the only players the Twins could have gotten significant return for were members of the bullpen. However, all of them are inexpensive and under team control for at least the next couple seasons, so the Twins had no reason to trade them unless they got an offer that blew them away.
So, the Twins didn't have much to offer in a trade. In other seasons, they had more to offer and still didn't do anything.
In 2011, the Twins had Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel playing in the final years of their contracts. Neither player was traded that season, mainly because the Twins thought they could contend. The Twins were 50-57 and 6 games back going into July 31. They went 13-42 the rest of the season to finish with the second-most losses in Twins history.
In 2012, the Twins were able to trade Francisco Liriano to the White Sox, but because of Liriano's inconsistency over the previous 1 1/2 seasons, the Twins got a disappointing return of light-hitting utility infielder Eduardo Escobar and soft-tossing pitcher Pedro Hernandez.
The last time the Twins were sellers at the trade deadline, the Twins traded Luis Castillo for minor-leaguers Dustin Martin and Butera in 2007. Martin has yet to make it to the major leagues despite over 400 games in AAA.
The last time the Twins made a trade during the season before the deadline when trying to unload veterans for prospects and got any kind of significant return was 1999 when the Twins traded closer Rick Aguilera and left-hander Scott Downs for pitchers Kyle Lohse and Jason Ryan.
The last time the Twins had a truly significant trade of a veteran player for prospects at the trade deadline was 1989 when they traded Frank Viola to the New York Mets for pitchers Rick Aguilera, Kevin Tapani, David West and Tim Drummond.
The Twins had good and bad luck with this trade. Aguilera was a veteran starter that became the closer for the Twins' 1991 World Series champions. Tapani had his best season as a starter in 1991. However, West was considered a top prospect who never really panned out. Drummond only pitched in parts of three seasons in the major leagues.
The good news is that the Twins still have another month to make deals. Trades can still be made in Auguest, but the players have to pass through waivers first.
If no team claims a player placed on waivers, then the player can be traded to any team. If a team claims a player, then the player's original team can just allow the other team to take the player and the full terms of his contract. The other option is for the two teams to make a trade, but the player claimed on waivers can only go to the team that claimed him and there's a small window of time that the deal has to be made within.
What usually happens when a player is claimed is that the original team just takes him off waivers. That player cannot be traded after that. Most trades that do happen in August are not significant, but that describes the players the Twins are most likely to look to trade anyways.
The Twins traded Danny Valencia to the Boston Red Sox in August last year for Jeremias Pineda, an outfielder currently in Class-A Cedar Rapids. In 2011, the Twins traded Jim Thome and Delmon Young in August for very little.
So the trade season isn't truly over yet, but it's unlikely to be anything to get excited about.
Darin McGilvra has been a professional sportswriter since 1997 and has been a Twins follower since Kirby Puckett's breakout season of 1986. He has been published in The Californian, a newspaper covering Riverside County, and numerous other websites.
Follow Darin on Twitter at @SoCalTwinsfan.
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