DETROIT - With the present looking so ugly, it was time on Monday for the Twins to look to the future.
They dealt outfielder Delmon Young, who never developed into the player they thought he would become, to the Detroit Tigers for two prospects. He promptly went 2-for-4 Monday night, including a home run on his first swing in a Tigers uniform, in a 9-6 victory for the Twins.
One of the prospects is Cole Nelson, a 6-7 lefthander who attended Edina High School and was pitching for Class A Lakeland of the Florida State League. The other is a player to be named later who is not expected to be a top prospect. The deadline for that player to be identified is Oct. 15, but the Twins expect to receive him well before then.
Young was placed on waivers last week and claimed by Detroit. The Twins and Tigers then worked out a deal.
Young, 25, joins the team for whom his brother, Dmitri, played for five seasons (2002-06). Delmon Young batted .266 with only four homers and 32 RBI with the Twins this year and spent two stints on the disabled list. He's also making $5.375 million.
The Twins swapped an underperforming and expensive regular for two prospects. That's what teams do when they know they are out of contention.
"I'm sure if we were a little bit closer to those teams ahead of us, you probably wouldn't see stuff like that," Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said. "Unfortunately, we put ourselves in a situation where ownership knows we also need to start looking toward our future and some of these young outfielders are probably going to be it."
Young was traded to the Twins before the 2008 season along with infielder Brendan Harris and outfielder Jason Pridie for infielder Jason Bartlett, righthander Matt Garza and righthander Eduardo Morlan. In three-plus seasons with the Twins, Young batted .287 with 47 home runs.
The Twins, with a payroll of about $115 million, will save around $1.3 million by dealing Young with six weeks left in the regular season. The move opens up the outfield for younger players. Ben Revere, batting .245 with 20 steals entering Monday, figures to get a chunk of the time in left now that Young is gone. But Rene Tosoni, called up from Class AAA Rochester to take Young's spot on the roster, figures to get some time, too.
"It was a difficult thing to make this deal," Twins General Manager Bill Smith said. "At this time you have to look ahead and you have to turn the page."
Revere should be in line to start in left field next season, but the Twins are unsure about who will be in right field. They have made contract offers to Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, who can be free agents after the season. Negotiations are expected to continue during the offseason, if not sooner.
"Kubel and Cuddyer are free agents at the end of the year, but we have interest in retaining them," Smith said. "Speed is something Revere has. He's been an exciting player for us this year. We'll see how this plays out. We also like three-run homers, but this is the time to make this deal and move forward."
Nelson, 22, was 5-11 with a 4.87 ERA at Lakeland. In 26 games (17 starts), Nelson walked 50 and struck out 87 in 105 1/3 innings. He recently moved to the bullpen, where he's 1-1 with a 2.50 ERA in nine appearances.
"We do think he's had more success as a reliever," Smith said, "but we are going to let him come over here and make an impression and move forward."
Young was in a taxi cab, returning from a shopping mall, when Smith called him to inform him of the trade.
"I thought it was a prank call," Young said, "I said, 'Is this a joke?'"
Young then boarded the team bus with the Twins and headed to Comerica Park. Tigers manager Jim Leyland called him during the ride to let him know he was batting third Monday night.
When the bus pulled up, the Twins went one way and Young went the other -- to the home clubhouse. When he walked in, some of the Tigers players thought he was lost.
"It was fun [with the Twins] because every year I was there we were either in Game 163 or in the playoffs," Young said. "That's all you can ask for as a player, to have an opportunity to get to the playoffs."
Twins players were surprised by the news.
"I like him as a player and as a teammate," catcher Joe Mauer said. "I don't think it has really hit me yet."
Outfielder Denard Span, who played next to Young in the outfield, knows Young came to the Twins with a reputation of being surly at times but said he was a good teammate.
"He's been gone only a couple of hours," Span said, "and I already miss him not being in the corner."
Span won't forget some of Young's last words to him before he went to put on the Old English 'D'.
"He said that now, he's in first place," Span said.