07/31/10 8:12 PM ET
Capps trade final Twins move before Deadline
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
It wasn't a complete surprise, considering that the Twins had already made one upgrade late on Thursday night when they acquired closer Matt Capps from the Nationals. At the time, it appeared like it might be the Twins' only move prior to the Deadline. Minnesota sent catching prospect Wilson Ramos and Minor League left-hander Joe Testa to Washington in exchange for the All-Star closer who bolsters the Twins' bullpen by giving them an experienced pitcher with a mid-90s fastball to finish off games.Twins general manager Bill Smith said the club explored upgrades in a variety of areas, including starting pitching. They had conversations with other clubs right up until 15 minutes before Saturday's Deadline, but there was nothing really close on the final day. Smith said the right fit just wasn't there for the Twins to make another move, although they are happy with the one piece they were able to add this week. "We are very pleased to add Matt Capps," Smith said. "We've had a lot of interest in him over the past few years and he has certainly been very good for Washington this year. We're counting on him to provide a huge boost to our bullpen. "It's a tough market right now. There are a lot of buyers, and a lot of the sellers were asking sky-high prices. We just didn't think that what was available was enough of an upgrade to give up what we were being asked for." The Twins had been in talks with the Mariners earlier in the month regarding Cliff Lee and they had been linked to other starting pitchers on the market including Roy Oswalt, Ted Lilly and, over the last 24 hours, Brett Myers of the Astros. But with the prices appearing to be too high for the quality of starters on the market, the Twins shifted their focus to the bullpen. The Twins were looking for someone who could help anchor their relief corps and help them to deepen what has been a successful bullpen so far this season, and Capps was a pitcher that had drawn the interest of the club for a few years. So when he was available, the Twins felt it was a good fit. "We really never replaced Joe Nathan when he went down," Smith said. "Jon Rauch stepped up and did a tremendous job for four months, but we never replaced him with anyone from outside the organization. So we were confident that Matt Capps was the right guy to step in here over the rest of the season." The addition of Capps is something the Twins believe will be a boost for the club, and they hope to get a lift over the final two months of the season when some of their current players get healthy as well.
Justin Morneau has been out for over three weeks due to a concussion he suffered on July 7 and there is still no exact timetable on when he might return. Infielders Nick Punto and Orlando Hudson are both currently on the disabled list, with Punto sidelined by a strained left hamstring and Hudson sitting due to a strained right oblique muscle."When we get those people back it makes a huge difference," manager Ron Gardenhire said. "We were looking for [starting] pitching, like every baseball team. And bullpen help; we were looking for that. Whether you get it or not, it depends on how much you want to give up. A lot of it I don't think we were too deep into it because of the asking price." But starting pitching is an area that the Twins could still address in August. Now that the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, deals involving players on the 40-man roster cannot be made unless the players already have cleared waivers. A player exposed to waivers can be claimed by any team and -- if there are multiple claims -- the player would be offered to the team with the worst record.
At that point, a team has 48 hours to either try to work out a trade with the claiming club or remove the player from waivers. A player can only be pulled back from waivers once, but if he clears waivers either the first or a second time through, a team can attempt to trade him to any club.Contending teams will also be on the lookout for the Aug. 31 deadline because players must be on the Major League roster by 11 p.m. CT on that date to be eligible for postseason play. The Twins were one of the more active teams last August, acquiring two players through waiver trades -- starting pitcher Carl Pavano and Rauch. Pavano and Rauch both played critical roles in helping the Twins to overcome a seven-game deficit last September to earn yet another AL Central title and they've also been key to the team's success this season as well. Pavano had been the Twins' best starter so far this year, posting a 13-6 record with a 3.21 ERA. And after Joe Nathan was lost for the year following season-ending elbow surgery in Spring Training, Rauch shifted into the closer role and notched 21 saves before moving back into a setup role this week thanks to the addition of Capps. "I'm sure we'll be aggressive with that," Smith said of the waiver process. "The final question you ask before you make that waiver claim is, 'If we get him, are we going to be happy about it?' We claimed a lot of guys last year. Fortunately we got two of them that were a huge help to them down the stretch."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.