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It’s been 5 years since the trade that changed nothing for the Twins

Former Twin Nick Punto somehow became an important part of a blockbuster deal between the Red Sox and the Dodgers. Remember that?

Arizona Diamondbacks v Los Angeles Dodgers
Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Yesterday was the five year anniversary of one of the biggest waiver trades in the history of baseball: The Nick Punto Trade. You know, the one where the Red Sox pulled off an impressively massive salary dump by sending Adrian Gonzalez, Josh Beckett, Carl Crawford, and Nick Punto to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Yesterday, on SB Nation’s main MLB site, Marc Normandin wrote about what the trade meant for the Red Sox, and Grant Brisbee wrote about what it meant for the Dodgers.

So I apologize for being a day late, but no one told me we were doing this! Anyway, here’s what The Nick Punto Trade meant for the Minnesota Twins.

August 25th, 2012. It was a Saturday and the Twins were in Texas playing the Rangers. It was one of those 3:00 pm games broadcast nationally on FOX. Brian Duensing started for the Twins and and gave up nine runs in the first three innings. That’s sort of how things went for the Twins in 2012. By that time, they were already 19.5 games back in the division. Wow. Now I’m sort of sorry for bringing up any of this at all.

When The Nick Punto Trade went down, the Twins had already played all of their games against the Red Sox for the season, and they didn’t even play the Dodgers that year at all. So it didn’t really mean anything for the Twins.

Except it did. It did because it included Nick Punto, and Nick Punto and the Twins will forever be inextricably connected. If the Twins were peanut butter, Punto would be the slab of regular butter your Mom keeps sliding in to your PB&J sandwiches for some reason. It’s completely unnecessary and disgusting, but she never stopped doing it even after I asked her to.

The Twins were obsessed with Nick Punto for what, in retrospect, seems like an embarrassingly long amount of time. They originally drafted him in the 33rd round of the 1997 draft, but he didn’t sign. Instead, Punto waited until the next year when he was drafted by the Phillies in the 21st round and he signed with them. Rude. The Twins, however, did not give up, pursuing Punto until they eventually acquired from the Phillies for Eric Milton in 2003.

Over the next seven seasons, Little Nicky Punto became a mainstay in Minnesota. Seriously. He was their Opening Day third baseman—twice. After hitting .210/.291/.271 over 150 games in 2007 and .284/.344/.382 over 99 games in 2008, Punto became a free agent for the first time. In desperation, the Twins offered the utility infielder an $8 million contract to stay in Minnesota. What?

Even though he was always at the forefront of the collective Twins’ mind, to most people, Punto seemed like an afterthought—especially in The Nick Punto Trade. It turns out he wasn’t just an afterthought, though, as Marc explained in his editorial. The extremely not-$8-million the Red Sox still owed Punto at the time of the trade was modest ($327,000), but when combined with the other massive contracts the team was unloading, it was just enough to get their payroll under the luxury tax threshold. So basically, by trading a bunch of star players with bonkers-expensive contracts and Nick Punto to another insanely bonkers-rich team, a bonkers-rich team saved a bunch of money. For the Twins, it was just another reminder that they are never going to have as much money as either of those two teams.

If you think about it, the Twins are like the Nick Punto in The Nick Punto Trade of major league baseball.

Or something! I don’t actually have a fully-formed idea I’m trying to get at here. The trade really didn’t mean anything for the Twins except for the fact we all got to laugh at LNP getting paid again.

Speaking of which, please enjoy these classic Nick Punto themed Twinkie Town posts of the past: