This morning I read a good piece from Joe Christensen on how the Twins approached Joe Nathan on Tuesday, with just 30 minutes to spare, to see if he would be willing to waive his veto powers in order to be traded. Not that the Twins had a trade in the works, apparently. No, the Minnesota front office was merely "checking in". Which is ridiculous.
After the jump we'll try to read between the lines a little bit, but first I highly recomment reading Christensen's article first. Go ahead. I'll wait.
Everything about this reeks of questionable judgement, because with the information available there are only two ways this could play out.
- The Twins really were just checking in with Nathan to see if he'd be willing waive his 10-and-5 rights*. Which, considering the 11pm trade submission deadline on Tuesday night, means the Minnesota front office was just plain irresponsible.
- Nathan had either passed through waivers and the Twins had a potentially interested party at the 11th hour, or someone claimed him off waivers, and the front office may have heard some names in a potential deal that they wouldn't say "no" to. In which case the front office wasn't telling the truth about not having an iron in the fire.
Here's what I think has happened...
There's just too much coincidental timing that matches up with the information that we have available. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports tweeted that Nathan had been placed on waivers by the Twins, but this was now more than a week ago. This means that if Nathan had been claimed, something would have had to have been worked out a few days ago. It's more likely that Nathan wasn't claimed, which means the Twins could deal him to any team they like as long as it was for A) 40-man roster players who also cleared waivers, and/or B) non-40 man roster players.
Right around the same time, Nathan also told Phil Mackey of ESPN 1500 that he would be open to pitching in a pennant race, and would therefore consider waiving his 10-and-5 rights:
"It's something I would consider," said Nathan, who recently passed Rick Aguilera as the Twins' all-time saves leader. "It's not something I would rule out."
Nathan added that he's intrigued by the idea of playing meaningful games in September, but he'll analyze any possible claim or trade scenario on a "case-by-case" basis.
If we take it as fact, then, that Nathan would consider an August trade and that the Twins put him on waivers (we're not sure which came first), then what does that help tell us about the organization's late approach to Nathan last night?
It tells me that the Twins didn't expect to move him. It tells me that, because of the time that's passed, that Nathan cleared waivers. And it tells me that if the Twins didn't have an interested party or two (and I think they probably did), it means they were going to try and find one at the last minute. Either way, if the Twins are saying they didn't have a deal cooking, I just don't buy it.
What bothers me about this isn't that the Twins would consider trading Nathan. I can understand that. What I have an issue with is the apparent lack of foresight, which over the last year has been a very big and very real issue for the front office. If the Twins put him on waivers, they should have asked Nathan at the time if he'd consider waiving his 10-and-5 rights, whether that was just last week or earlier in the month as Christensen speculates.
Of course it's possible that we don't have all the information, and that there's something we're missing which would alter my conclusion. It would be nice, actually, if that were the case.
* = For anyone unfamiliar with 10-and-5 rights: a player who has been in the league for 10 years and with the same team for the last 5 can veto any trade.