Twins open for business as non-waiver trade deadline nears
MINNEAPOLIS — Even after beating the Baltimore Orioles for the third straight day on Saturday, July 7, the Twins were 11 games out in the American League Central, 16.5 out in the wild-card race and 10 games under .500.
So, with the all-star break approaching, and many of their key players in places other than Minnesota, the Twins are ready to hear from any team interested in a trade before the July 31 non-waiver deadline.
"We're a team that has to always be open-minded to phone calls that we get," chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said Saturday during the Twins' 5-4 victory over last-place Baltimore at Target Field.
"Sometimes those are about short-term decisions, sometimes they're about long-term decisions," Falvey said. "There are going to be times where it's going to be clearer for us what we're trying to do at that moment."
It seems pretty clear the Twins are not going to make the playoffs after breaking into the postseason for the first time since 2010 with a wild card berth last fall. The Twins slumped into this weekend's four-game series against the worst team in baseball on the heels of a 1-8 road trip through Chicago and Milwaukee.
Optimism would be higher if the Twins had their Opening Day roster intact, but injuries to starter Ervin Santana, catcher Jason Castro, first baseman Joe Mauer, third baseman Miguel Sano and center fielder Byron Buxton have made this season a patch-and-fill operation.
Mauer is back, but Santana made his second rehab start in Fort Myers on Thursday and looks, according to Falvey, "much like a guy would at the beginning of spring training." Jorge Polanco is back from an 80-game steroid suspension, but Sano and Buxton are on re-set missions at Fort Myers and Class AAA Rochester, respectively.
The Twins won't declare surrender on 2018, especially manager Paul Molitor and the players, but they're likely to seriously entertain offers for veterans such as second baseman Brian Dozier, closer Fernando Rodney and, if they can get any interest, DH/first baseman Logan Morrison.
"We've said all along that this is about building the right stable to give yourself a chance year after year to compete for division titles and beyond that," Falvey said.
"We're always going to be open-minded. If there are calls that make us better, sometimes for the longer term, then we're going to have to consider that."
The Orioles, who fell 40 games below .500 with Saturday's loss, have been just what the Twins ordered. Not only has Minnesota beaten them three straight times after a 1-8 road trip, their pitching has awakened a couple of bats.
On the nine-game road trip through Chicago and Milwaukee, right fielder Max Kepler hit .188 with one run batted in and eight strikeouts. In three games against the O's (24-64), he's 4 for 11 with two homers and four RBIs.
Catcher Bobby Wilson, who started Saturday with a batting average of .114, had two hits and three RBIs in Saturday's 5-4 victory.
"It's nice to do something offensively," Wilson said. "I feel like I've been doing everything I can defensively. It's time to start turning that corner and start contributing offensively, as well."
Fernando Rodney, who blew his last two save opportunities on the road trip, has nailed down both his chances against the Orioles, although he made it interesting on Saturday, allowing a two-out, run scoring double to No. 9 hitter Jace Peterson in the ninth before getting Tim Beckham on a sharp grounder to short.
- Joe Mauer went 1 for 3 with a walk but remains tied with Kirby Puckett for the Twins' career doubles record at 414. He has played in only six more games than the late hall of fame outfielder.
- Right-hander Trevor Hildenberger earned his 13th hold with a scoreless eighth inning.