We put a lot of emphasis on the July 31 trade deadline, and for good reason: once that deadline passes you can't move freely in the trade market. As a result a team looking to bolster its roster has limited options. With the best will in the world sometimes trades don't work before July 31; how difficult must it be to make a good trade when every other team in the league knows who's available and has their own crack at intercepting your desired piece?
In 2012 the Dodgers and the Red Sox pulled off a mega deal that very few clubs could have absorbed. Boston sent Carl Crawford, Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, and Nick Punto to Los Angeles for James Loney and a trio of prospects. None of Boston's cache are still with the Red Sox; Gonzalez is still playing well in LA, but Beckett and Punto are retired and Crawford has played in just 23 games this year with two years and $43 million left on his contract. Forgetting the money changing hands in 2012, the Dodgers took on nearly $285 million in future contracts. Oh and the Dodgers missed the playoffs. You're welcome, Boston.
Otherwise, David Cone went from the Mets to the Blue Jays in 1992. Larry Walker went to the Cardinals in 2004. But a lot of the other trades that you can find of interest involve players who were prospects but would turn into superstars down the line - like John Smoltz, Jeff Bagwell, or Jose Bautista. Which I'm sure bodes well for fans of Chih-Wei Hu.
But what about the Twins? Here are some of the most notable trades that Minnesota has pulled off in August through the years.
The Twins selected Jordan Schafer off of waivers from the Braves on August 3. The career .228/.308/.307 hitter smacked a .285/.345/.362 triple slash for Minnesota down the stretch in a lost campaign, was retained through arbitration, and was subsequently released early in 2015 after hitting .217/.250/.261 in 27 games.
Eight days later the Twins sent Josh Willingham to the Royals for Jason Adam. Hammer hit .233/.349/.384 down the stretch and actually made Kansas City's post-season rosters. Adam, meanwhile, has struggled through some injury issues. It looks like he's finally on the mend now, so hopefully he'll get a full healthy season under his belt in 2016.
After the Red Sox claimed Danny Valencia, on August 5 the Twins worked out a deal that netted them Jeremias Pineda. The 21-year old center fielder hit .365/.406/.469 between the Boston and Minnesota rookie affiliates that year, but had never reached such heights prior to that season and never reached them after. He hung around between Cedar Rapids (Minnesota's Single-A affiliate) and Elizabethton for a couple years, but now plays for Veracruz in the Mexican League.
On August 15 the Twins finally found a suitor for Delmon Young, sending him to Detroit for minor leaguers Cole Nelson (now out of baseball) and Lester Oliveros (3.79 ERA in Triple-A this year). Oliveros has a chance to be a part of the Twins bullpen still, but he's currently on the disabled list. If he were healthy there's a good chance he'd be with Minnesota now; in spite of a .277 opponent batting average he's struck out 46 batters in 35.2 innings.
Brian Fuentes had saved 23 games for the Angels in 2010, but was moved to Minnesota on August 27 for Loek Van Mil. Fuentes didn't allow a run in nine appearances, striking out six, walking two, and giving up just three hits. He gave the Twins 2.2 additional innings of perfect relief in the playoffs, but after the season the club chose not to offer him a new contract and he moved on. 2011 was a good year for Brian, but by 2012 he was toast and wouldn't return for 2013.
Van Mil went from Los Angeles to Cleveland to Cincinnati, but he never found the consistency he needed to be called up to the Major Leagues. Still just 30 years old, Van Mil isn't affiliated with an MLB club in 2015. He's been pitching in the Netherlands. If he can hold onto that 95 mph fastball...you never know. We could see the 7' 1" right-hander yet.
In one of Bill Smith's better moves, the Twins sent Yohan Pinto to the Indians for Carl Pavano on August 7. Pavano wasn't great but stabilized a young rotation down the stretch, and Minnesota won the AL Centra with an 87-76 record before being swept out of the divisional round by the Yankees. Pavano gave the Twins 221 innings at a 3.75 ERA in 2009 and was a decent mid-rotation option in 2010 with 222 innings and a 4.30 ERA, but he struggled in 2012 and recorded a 6.00 ERA in 11 starts. The Twins placed him on the disabled list and he never returned, nor pitched in a Major League game again.
He gave the Twins seven innings of two-run baseball in game three of the 2009 ALDS. In game two of the 2010 ALDS he'd allowed two runs through six innings, but picked up two more runs in the seventh without recording an out.
On August 28, Smith struck again. He dealt Kevin Mulvey (one of the pieces from the Johan Santana trade) to the Diamondbacks for Jon Rauch, and then he signed Ron Mahay as a free agent. Rauch gave the Twins 15.2 innings of 1.72-ERA baseball down the stretch, and returned as a part-time closer in 2010 with a 3.12 ERA and 21 saves. Rauch was reliable, and came up big in between the injury of Joe Nathan and the unfortunate acquisition of Matt Capps.
The lefty Mahay was just as effective as the Twins surged in 2009, posting a 2.00 ERA in 16 appearances. He too would return in 2010, giving Minnesota 34 innings of 3.44 ERA baseball.
There are good things that Smith did in his time as Minnesota's General Manager. Acquiring Pavano, Rauch, and Mahay in 2009 was critical. Fuentes in 2010 was a big pickup for nothing. And being the GM while the club signed international prospects Miguel Sano and Max Kepler is big as well. For all the things there were not to like about what he did, those things deserve to be counted in his favor.
On August 11 the Twins signed Bobby Kielty as a free agent. But he'd already played his last game as a Major Leaguer. This doesn't constitute a notable August move by any means. I just wanted to talk about Bobby Kielty.
Later that month, on the 25th, the Twins brought back Eddie Guardado. They sent Mark Hamburger to the Rangers, but he's since returned as well. Eddie struggled in his return, posting a 7.71 ERA in nine appearances. He'd go back to Texas in 2009 to finish his career with 48 appearances and a 4.46 ERA - a much better finish than had he hung it up after a return to Minnesota.
The Twins took the '08 season to Game 163, losing 1-0 to the White Sox on a Jim Thome home run.
The Twins had a few veterans to flip at deadlines during the latter half of the 90s, and on August 20 sent Roberto Kelly to the Mariners for Joe Mays and Jeromy Palki. Kelly had hit .308/.358/.450 since signing with Minnesota in 1996, and did very well for Seattle down the stretch by batting .298/.328/.529. They won the AL West but lost in four games to the Orioles in the ALDS.
Palki spent many years as a minor league reliever in the Twins system, pitching there through 2004 and consistently posting strong strikeout rates and being pretty effective. He never got the call to the big leagues, but his trade partner did. Joe Mays served as a rotation mainstay from 2000 through 2006, winning 17 games in 2001 but otherwise acting as a number three behind Brad Radke and Eric Milton in the early years of the club's renaissance. Unfortunately he never repeated the success of 2001, but he gave the Twins fair value for Kelly.
Minnesota signed a number of veterans heading into the '96 campaign: Paul Molitor, the aforementioned Roberto Kelly, Greg Myers, and third baseman Dave Hollins. Hollins had a fantastic eye at the dish but his power took a big step backwards from where it was in the early 90s, and although he was hitting just .242/.364/.396 the Twins found a way to flip him to the Mariners (who apparently enjoyed the Twins' castoffs) on August 29. Hollins rewarded Seattle by raking, batting .351/.438/.479 through the end of the year for a Mariners club that missed the Wild Card by two-and-a-half games.
The player to be named later in this deal was David Ortiz. The Twins made a poor decision there. Ortiz has gone on to his 486 home runs and seems like a sure bet to reach 500. He turns 40 in November. It's fun to see how many of those players from the early 00s are still hanging around baseball: Ortiz, Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski, Michael Cuddyer, Kyle Lohse, and LaTroy Hawkins are all still playing ball.
Chili Davis left the Twins following the 1992 season, but another free agent arrived in 1993 to bring a little more power to the Minnesota lineup: St. Paul native David Winfield. Winfield, at 41 in '93, hit .271/.325/.442 and swatted 21 homers. He took a step back in '94 but still hit .252/.321/.425 with ten bombs in 77 games. On August 31 the Indians purchased him from the Twins, in the hope that the strike would end and he'd give them help down the stretch. They were just one game behind the White Sox.
The strike didn't end until the following spring, however. Winfield signed with Cleveland as a free agent anyway, but in 46 games hit just two home runs and posted a .572 OPS. He was done.
Minnesota got nothing but cash out of this deal, but it's worth noting considering Winfield's status as a Hall of Famer.
The Orioles were three games behind both the Yankees and the Blue Jays in the AL East, and to bolster their roster found a way to trade for Mike Pagliarulo on August 15. Pags had been a nice piece for the Twins in '91 but struggled with production and injury in '92. In '93 he was off to a .292/.350/.423 start in 83 games for Minnesota when he was sent to Baltimore. He hit .325/.373/.556 down the stretch but the Orioles couldn't make up any ground, finishing in third place and ten games back of the great Jays.
Minnesota got right-handed reliever Erik Schullstrom in the deal. He gave the Twins 60 innings of 6.00 ERA baseball between 1994 and 1995.
Ron Davis ran out of time with the Twins on August 13. He was packaged with minor leaguer Dewayne Coleman and shipped to the Cubs for Julius McDougal, Ray Fontenot, and George Frazier. Fontenot gave the Twins 15 terrible relief appearances and was out of professional baseball. Frazier fared a bit better with a 4.83 ERA over 69 appearances in 1986 and 1987. He even made the World Series roster in '87, striking out two in two scoreless innings in Game four in St. Louis.
Davis was unable to hold down a regular bullpen role, making stops with the Cubs, Dodgers, and Giants in '87 and '88 before throwing in the towel.
The Twins traded Jay Bell, Curt Wardle, and a player to be named later (Rich Yett) to the Indians on August 1 for the honor of bringing Bert Blyleven back to Minnesota. Bert gave the Twins 120 more starts over the next three-and-a-half years, 37 of which came in the championship season of 1987. But in '85, when Blyleven was brought back into the fold, Twins manager Ray Miller had recently been running a four-man rotation of Frank Viola, Mike Smithson, John Butcher, and Ken Schrom. Blyleven's arrival allowed Miller to lean on Viola, Smithson, and Blyleven with Butcher, Schom, and even Mark Portugal plugging holes down the stretch.
There aren't a great many bombastic deals that the Twins have pulled off in August. Considering the type of season they're having and where they're at in the rebuilding phase, an acquisition of a player like David Cone or Larry Walker is highly unlikely. Similarly, because the club isn't selling they're not likely to trade for future help like David Ortiz or Joe Mays.
Where perhaps this history lesson provides some hope is in the acquisition of players like Brian Fuentes, Jon Rauch, Ron Mahay, and to a lesser extent Carl Pavano. Nobody, including Terry Ryan and the front office, will be satisfied with just Kevin Jepsen.
Over at ESPN, Jerry Crasnick lists a few players who are good candidates to be traded in August, including familiar names like Joaquin Benoit, Francisco Rodriguez, A.J. Pierzynski, Koji Uehara, and Junichi Tazawa. Any and all of them would help the Twins. Here's hoping Ryan isn't done yet.
Are there any August deals I missed that you think should be included? Let me know in the comments.