On June 22, the Twins were 36-38 and thinking they could creep into the playoff picture. They have gone 11-19 since then, forcing General Manager Terry Ryan to be a seller rather than a buyer.
So the clubhouse is preparing to lose a couple of teammates this week as Ryan entertains offers before Thursday’s non-waiver trade deadline.
“It comes with the territory in this game,” said catcher Kurt Suzuki, who has been traded in the middle of each of the past two seasons. “You understand the process of what goes on and I think you learn to deal with it. You never get used to it, but you deal with it.”
Ryan is strapping himself in for a long week on the phone. He’s sending assistant GM Rob Antony with the club on its trip to Kansas City and Chicago this week. Mike Radcliff, the Twins’ vice president in charge of player personnel, and Wayne Krivsky, Ryan’s special assistant, will be in the Twin Cities to help evaluate any potential deals.
This is the third consecutive time since Ryan returned to the GM’s chair that he’s selling at the deadline.
“As long as it stops in the near future, then it is worthwhile,” Ryan said. “If you get things straightened out. We’ve been through this before, which is not any fun because that means you are not in it and it means August and September will be a battle and you have to fight through it.
“This isn’t what anyone signed up to do. Nobody wants to watch a club get into late July and be in a position where you don’t have a chance.”
Here’s a look at some Twins who might have value as the trade deadline nears:
Suzuki: The All-Star catcher is having a career year, batting .309 with two homers and 41 RBI. He’s also batting .318 with runners in scoring position. He’s easily the best chip Ryan has to play this year, and there is at least one team — Baltimore — that needs a catching upgrade with All-Star Matt Wieters out for the season because of an elbow injury. The Twins and Suzuki’s agent, Danny Lozano, spoke briefly about a contract extension recently, but the sides were miles apart on parameters. That makes it more likely that the Twins will trade him.
“It’s always nice to be wanted,” Suzuki said. “At the same time, being traded, getting comfortable in a new clubhouse in the middle of the season, getting to know a new pitching staff, you just have to deal with it.”
He wouldn’t mind staying with the Twins, though.
“I like to stay positive,” he said. “I like what we have going on here.”
Josh Willingham: The outfielder/designated hitter went 4-for-9 over his past three games with one homer, but his season numbers — .219 batting average, 10 homers and 29 RBI — are well below expectations. That makes him hard to trade — or not. Reports have the Yankees as one of the teams interested in Willingham. Because he’s having a down year in the final season of a three-year, $21 million contract, he’s not expected to fetch much on the market.
His name is expected to pop up in rumors leading up to Thursday’s deadline.
“I’ve paid seriously zero attention to it,” Willingham said. “What I do hear comes from either a teammate or my wife. I don’t pay any attention to it.”
Kevin Correia: The righthander is in the final season of a two-year, $10 million contract, so he’s another veteran who could fill out someone’s rotation. His market is hard to figure out, though, because he’s given up 10 earned runs over his past two outings.
Brian Duensing: He is having his best year, going 2-2 with a 2.27 ERA in 40 appearances. He’s holding righthanded hitters, a problem in the past, to a .244 batting average. He’s given up one earned run in 10 appearances this month. He has two more seasons of arbitration left. While his contact status would make him someone worth keeping, the Twins could get a decent piece in return. And there’s always a contender looking for a lefthanded reliever.
Casey Fien: One of the nice developments of an otherwise poor season, the righthander has a 2.40 ERA in 49 appearances and has emerged as a key eight-inning reliever. His refinement of a cut fastball has made him hard to hit: He’s walked seven and struck out 35 in 45 innings.
The Twins aren’t expected to pull off a blockbuster deal this week. Losing teams rarely do. But they could land a couple of prospects who could help them down the road.
“I’ve always said, if your name is involved in these things, you should be happy because somebody likes you,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. “Somebody might be thinking about getting you and bringing you over. So honestly, it should be a compliment to guys.”