Morneau safe for now, Butera out


 

The biggest story to come out of the Twins trade deadline was that…. Drew Butera was traded. No seriously, that was it.

The Twins are in fourth place in the ALC but don’t have the big time pieces that could bring more than lower level prospects in return. So Wednesday’s non-waiver trade deadline passed without making a single deal involving their big-league roster.

So for now Justin Morneau and Glen Perkins will stay. The rest of the team is in tack, at least for now. “There were probably a handful of players here that were discussed,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said, “but obviously we only traded Butera.”

The Dodgers picked up Butera from Triple-A Rochester for a soon to be named player or cash. He was sent right back to Triple-A in Albuquerque, they have to recall him in September.

“Close isn’t what you’re looking for,” Ryan said. “We had enough discussions to think there was a possibility, but it didn’t happen.”

A deal for Perkins would have required the Twins to be “overwhelmed” by another team’s offer. But the failure to place Morneau and his expiring contract in a pennant race somewhere might well be temporary. While waivers are required for a player to change teams in August it doesn’t mean the Twins can’t and won’t try to make it happen.

The Texas Rangers could have interest in a trade in August. That would give the Rangers more time to assess veteran designated hitter Lance Berkman’s health as he tries to shake a nagging hip injury.

The Pittsburgh Pirates also have some interest in Morneau, if they went for him he could help them shift former Twin Garrett Jones back to right field.

Even with Morneau’s remaining contract going from $4.59 million right now to $2.22 million a month from now, multiple baseball executives believe he would pass through waivers unclaimed in August. That would empower the Twins to trade him to any team they wanted.

After insisting the Twins had “very attractive players” who would spark serious trade interest, Ryan came within minutes failing to get any deals in July as GM for the first time since 1999.

Did the process change the way he views the Twins’ current roster? “I don’t think so,” Ryan said, “because I think we know our players better than the opposition.”

He cited a series of statistical downturns and role demotions in July that might have made it tougher for the Twins to get what they term “equitable” return.

“Do people get hot or do they not get hot in July?” Ryan said. “Some of that is going to be performance-oriented because there’s not a scout in the world that’s not going to take performance into consideration.”

Morneau, for instance, was hitting .174 for the month of July. “No matter what kind of reputation you have, they’re looking for results,” Ryan said. “I understand that. So does everybody.”

As for whether the relationship between the Twins and Morneau has been damaged by the trade process, Ryan said he didn’t think that would be the case.

“Justin is going to dictate his own future by exactly what he does on the field,” Ryan said.  “I don’t think our relationship is going to change. We’ve always had a good relationship with him. You’re going to go through Julys that are going to be a little bit touchy, and this was one of those sensitive Julys for the Twins.”

Butera was hitting .223 with two home runs in 83 at-bats for Rochester this season after missing the first two months. He was hit on the left hand with the first pitch of his first at-bat this season for the Red Wings. Trading him to another team that might be able to use him “was the right thing to do.” Ryan said.

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