Major League Baseball’s trade deadline came and went Monday without the Twins making a single deal. They spoke with clubs and checked in on some players but, in the end, decided to sprint to the finish hoping a healthier roster will be enough to get them to the postseason.
No one was sure how many blockbuster deals would be made during an abbreviated season with an expanded playoff field. Also, prospects end up being part of many deals, but many trade chips are sitting at home, and not every team agreed to share video of the players at their alternate training sites.
“Relative to other years this one was different,” Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey said. “It was a little bit quieter on a lot of levels. With 16 teams making the playoffs, with the National League race as compacted as it is and certainly a number of teams in the American League still fighting for position and spots, I think it was a little bit more of a hold and wait-and-see approach for a lot of clubs.”
The biggest name dealt was righthander Mike Clevinger, who was shipped from Cleveland to San Diego. Yes, the Twins checked in on Clevinger — it’s believed the White Sox did too — but learned that Cleveland would require a monster package to deal him within the division.
Falvey inquired about many players but was unable to build traction toward a deal. Also, there weren’t other pitchers of at least Clevinger’s caliber available, as the Twins likely weren’t going to trade some of their nearly ready top prospects unless it was for a top-of-the-rotation force.
And Falvey said money was not an impediment to a trade, as owner Jim Pohlad has allowed him to make a case for impactful transactions, like the offseason signing of third baseman Josh Donaldson.
“We’ve had flexibility,” Falvey said. “Jim has been very supportive if we bring those conversations.”
Wait for help
Having entered Monday with a five-game losing streak — the longest during the Rocco Baldelli era — the Twins now are waiting for some of their seven players on the injured list to heal.
The first two position players to return to action look to be Donaldson and outfielder Byron Buxton. Donaldson (right calf strain) has missed 26 games while Buxton (sore left shoulder) has missed 11.
The two played in an intrasquad game on Monday at CHS Field in St. Paul. And it sounds like the Twins are ready to plug them back into their lineup.
“We’ve been waiting on these guys for a little while and we’re gonna do it conservatively and we’re going to do it responsibly,” Baldelli said, “but I think the time is getting pretty close.”
Righthander Jake Odorizzi played catch Monday to keep his arm ready while he recovers from a chest contusion. Baldelli spoke with Cody Stashak (lower back inflammation) Monday and said the righthander is making good progress.
That leaves catcher Mitch Garver (intercostal strain), righthander Homer Bailey (biceps tendinitis) and righthander Zack Littell (elbow inflammation), who might be out a little longer. But some help is on the way.
“We can’t predict any of the future perfectly,” Falvey said, “but I’m excited about looking at the group that we have right now that should join us sometime this week as being huge boosts for our club, more than probably what we could have acquired through the course of the deadline, for sure.”
Big Mike Night
His 60-game suspension now over, righthander Michael Pineda will start Tuesday against the White Sox, his first start since last Sept. 6. He has been pitching in simulated games in St. Paul and should be able to throw 80-85 pitches if he’s effective.
“I think getting him back out there, seeing him in action, seeing his enthusiasm, in the clubhouse around everyone has been a real pick-me-up,” Baldelli said, “and I think everyone is really looking forward to seeing him pitch.”
Having Pineda back means the Twins have five healthy starters again. That means no more bullpen games. So Baldelli can go back to running a bullpen traditionally.