Winter Meetings 2005
In the first Winter Meetings of Twinkie Town’s existence, Terry Ryan seemed optimistic. He felt like the Twins would be able to do something. There was interest in Frank Thomas, Nomar Garciaparra and Mike Piazza, all free agents at the time.
Thomas, in his age-38 season, would sign with Oakland for $500,000. He hit .270/.381/.545 with 39 homers and drove in 114 runs, earning himself 3.4 wins above replacement (bref) and finishing fourth in MVP voting. The Twins, meanwhile, tried Rondell White and Ruben Sierra at designated hitter to begin the ’06 season; White crashed and burned and Sierra swung himself into retirement. As a group, Minnesota designated hitters had a triple slash of .258/.312/.364 that year.
While the Twins won their fourth division title in five years in 2006, finishing the year with a decade-best 96 wins (the fourth most in franchise history), they were swept in the playoffs by the Oakland Athletics. Francisco Liriano blew out his arm, Brad Radke was pitching on guts and guile; would Thomas have helped them (and taken away from Oakland) in that embarrassment of an October?
Garciaparra, meanwhile, had the last truly productive season of his career at age 32 (.303/.367/.505 for $6 million). Piazza, at 37, was also having his swan song (.283/.342/.501 for $1.25 million). Three veterans, three good seasons, two affordable by the Twins standards of the time.
The Twins did trade for Luis Castillo, giving up nothing for him. So that was fun.
More, in a bit less detail, after the jump!
Winter Meetings 2006
There were a great many rumors a-flyin in the ’06 meetings, but nothing massive came to pass. Manny and A-Rod made no news in spite of the hype. Barry Zito held off from making a decision until after the meetings broke up, and you could say it paid off.
Here are a few of the highlights.
· The Dodgers made a mistake with Jason Schmidt. They also made a move for Luis Gonzalez.
· The A’s tried to duplicate the magic of the Thomas signing for ’06 by signing Piazza for ’07. It didn’t work out.
· The Royals broke their bank for Gil Meche. That didn’t work out that well, either.
· The biggest move may have been Josh Hamilton. Hamilton had been with the Rays, was taken in the Rule V draft by the Cubs, who then dealt him to the Reds. All three of these teams have probably regretted passing him along at some point.
Winter Meetings 2007
For Bill Smith’s first go-round at one of the most highly hyped and anticipated events of the off-season, he had a number of needs: center field after the departure of Torii Hunter, third base (which wouldn’t really be solved until Danny Valencia stepped in halfway through 2010), shortstop (since Jason Bartlett apparently wasn’t good enough), second base (Castillo wasn’t getting any younger), and the train wreck that was designated hitter (Jason Kubel was okay in ’07 but was clearly a platoon player). Of course, the Johan sweepstakes were in full bloom.
There was also speculation surrounding Joe Nathan, who had many suitors at a time when the Twins had many holes to fill. Suffice it to say, Nathan stayed put for a few years. Santana wouldn’t move for a few more weeks.
Over the next four days there was a lot of talk, but the Twins didn’t do much. The Tigers picked up Miguel Cabrera and Dontrell Willis. But the Twins did nought: they inquired on Hank Blalock and removed Chris Basak from the 40-man roster. It was a frustrating event for many people in the industry, apparently.
· The Dodgers signed Andruw Jones.
· The Royals snagged Jose Guillen.
· The Padres picked up Randy Wolff.
Winter Meetings 2008
Considering the hype of the ’07 meetings, this one was bound to seem tame by comparison. The Twins still needed a third baseman, and Bartlett was gone so there was a real need at shortstop. The bullpen also needed some help. Minnesota got involved to different extents in conversations with Casey Blake, Jason Donald, Huston Street and Adrian Beltre, and had just missed wigning Mike Lincoln the week before the meetings.
As the week went on a few names came up regularly, primarily Garrett Atkins, Ty Wigginton and Kevin Kouzmanoff as the Twins were clearly looking for an answer at third base. Thankfully we also weren’t seriously interested in Miguel Tejada or Jack Wilson.
The Twins checked in on the Rangers’ Joaquin Benoit, talked with the Cubs about Mark DeRosa, dangled Boof Bonser, and even looked at one point like they might get involved in a three-team trade with the Cubs and Padres.
On day four it came out that Beltre had the Twins on his no-trade clause, which would have earned him extra money had he been dealt to Minnesota. But in the end, the top four potential third basemen (Beltre, Wigginton, Atkins and Kouzmanoff) didn’t come to the Twins Cities. In fact, all that really happened for us was that Nick Punto stayed on board.
Things that actually did happen
· Kyle Farnsworth signed with the Royals.
· La Velle E. Neal the third banged his head repeatedly against the wall in boredom.
Winter Meetings 2009
Ah, yes. The year of the Joe Mauer will-he-or-won’t-he debacle. Minnesota needed a second baseman, third baseman, starting pitcher, some bench depth…and a Mauer contract extension.
With the team already tied to DeRose (again), Rich Harden, Beltre (again), Jarrod Washburn (AHH!) and Orlando Hudson, things picked up quickly. The trade for J.J. Hardy caught fans off guard, in a good way, so we were optimistic for more. It was refreshing to see Bill Smith make a good move.
Pavano accepted arbitration, the Padress called the Twins about Kouz (again) but for Glen Perkins this time, and Pedro Feliz’s name flared up for a hot minute. Bonser was designated for assignment. Speculation for Minnesota’s third base targets grew exponentially, including Beltre, DeRosa, Kouz, Feliz, Felipe Lopez, Juan Uribe and Joe Crede.
By the end of the meetings, the Twins were involved in repeated rumors over DeRosa, Crede and Kouzmanoff, but team sources insisted they would wait until after the New Year to sign their next attempt at a hot corner player. So of course, once more, Minnesota did nothing.
But others did.
· Pedro Feliz ended up signing with Houston.
· Rich Harden went to the Rangers.
· The Mariners signed Corey Patterson.
· The Twins, after stamping Bonser with a DFA, traded him to the Red Sox for the infamous PTBNL.
· Curtis Granderson went to the Yankees, Edwin Jackson and Ian Kennedy went to the Diamondbacks, and Max Scherzer, Daniel Schlereth, Phil Coke and Austin Jackson went to Detroit. Good deal all around, mostly.
Winter Meetings 2010
This was last year. It seems so long ago. Remember last year? When we still hoped that J.J. Hardy would stick around and that Matt Capps wouldn’t? Yeah. I remember that, too. Instead, what we saw was the organization blatantly undervalue a very good shortstop, and publicly announce that he was available.
Early on at this version of the meetings, the Twins were in contact with the Royals about Zack Greinke. It seemed both sides were pretty far apart on any exchanged details. Minnesota was also linked to Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Koji Uehara and Brendan Ryan.
Minnesota checked in on Harden again. Teams began to fall out of the Carl Pavano sweepstakes, potentially because of his Type A free agent status. It became public on day three that the Twins and Orioles were discussing Hardy, and it went down on day four.
· Carl Crawford signed with the Red Sox for a stupid amount of money. I’m in Boston right now, and I can promise you most Red Sox fans hate it.
· Cliff Lee received an offer from the Yankees that he would eventually decline.
· The White Sox signed Adam Dunn. Good work, Chicago.
· The Orioles acquired Mark Reynolds from the Diamondbacks for next to nothing.
· Adrian Gonzalez signed with the Red Sox.
· Paul Konerko signed with the White Sox.
WHEW. That’s that. SO…what’s on tap for this year’s winter meetings?