The clock struck 3 p.m. Wednesday in the Twins clubhouse with no one summoned to see General Manager Terry Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire. The only trade the Twins made was to send Class AAA Rochester catcher Drew Butera to the Dodgers for a player to named later or cash.
The 25-man roster stayed intact. While that might have been a relief to some Twins, it wasn’t to first baseman Justin Morneau.
“It’s not done yet,” Morneau said flatly. “It still goes to the end of August, so you have to continue to go through this fun time. Just keep doing this and hopefully [I’ll] remain here and help us win some ballgames.”
Deals still can be made up until Aug. 31 as long as the players involved clear waivers. So Morneau knows he has another month to deal with trade speculation and rumors.
Ryan had his top advisers in town for the final days before Wednesday’s deadline, trying to make a deal. They were willing to trade a number of players, with Morneau and relievers Brian Duensing and Jared Burton among those receiving interest. There also was a report Wednesday that there were inquiries about outfielder Josh Willingham, who is on the disabled list while recovering from knee surgery.
By Tuesday evening, however, indications were that interest in Twins players had died down — even with the team willing to eat some of Morneau’s $4.6 million in remaining salary.
“We had a number of discussions [Wednesday],” Ryan said. “Close isn’t what you’re looking for. We had enough discussion to think there was a possibility, but it didn’t happen.”
Baltimore was one team looking at Morneau to help fill the designated hitter role, but the Orioles went in another direction, dealing for Houston righthander Bud Norris.
Pittsburgh was looking to upgrade at first base but aimed higher, reportedly asked about Angels slugger Mark Trumbo, who has hit 23 home runs this season.
Boston and Atlanta were looking for relievers and had scouted the Twins in recent weeks. But the Red Sox ended up dealing for starter Jake Peavy and the Braves added lefthander Scott Downs.
It wasn’t as if the Twins made themselves more attractive. The team entered Wednesday 9-16 in July. Morneau was batting .174 with four home runs for the month. Duensing posted a 7.15 ERA. They weren’t alone in having crummy months in front of waves of scouts.
Closer Glen Perkins could have attracted a package of players, but the Twins have no intentions of moving him.
“We had a couple players here that could certainly help teams,” Ryan said. “We didn’t have much interest in discussing unless we were overwhelmed.”
Ryan said they needed to give Butera, 29, a chance to reach the majors elsewhere. He is an excellent game-caller with an arm that registered 94 miles per hour on the radar gun last year when he pitched during a blowout in Milwaukee. But he’s a career .182 hitter in 186 major league games (NL pitchers this year aren’t far behind at .168). Dodgers GM Ned Colletti said during an interview on the MLB Network that Butera would likely be called up in September.
At some point this month, the Twins will place Morneau and a number of other Twins on waivers, and teams will have a chance to put in claims, starting in reverse order of the standings. The team with the worst record is awarded the claim and the Twins, at that point, will be able to either pull that player off waivers, work out a trade or allow the player and his contract to join the claiming team. If a player clears waivers, he can be dealt.
Morneau, especially if he hits better in August, could be a trade target once again. As could a healthy Willingham or a reliever.
“It’s part of the game,” Morneau said. “It’s the business part of the game. It’s not the fun part of the game. There are people who make those decisions and it is not really up to me. I have never been in this situation. It has to do with how we are playing as a team and how I’m playing myself. That’s the uncomfortable part of it. We never envisioned this. We come here to win.”