MINNEAPOLIS — Just when it seemed as if Major League Baseball’s non-waiver trade deadline came and went quietly in Minnesota, the Twins snuck in a last-minute trade. They sent catcher Drew Butera to the Los Angeles Dodgers for a player to be named later or cash.
Butera appeared in just two games with the Twins this year as a backup catcher, and has always been known more for his defense than his offense. In 186 career major-league games with Minnesota, Butera batted .182 with five home runs and 41 RBI. After missing time with an injury earlier this season, he played in 26 games for Triple-A Rochester this year and batted .229.
“For me, we had to do something with Drew Butera to help him get back to the big leagues,” Twins general manager Terry Ryan said Wednesday. “It didn’t look like it was going to happen here. It was the right thing to give him an opportunity with another organization. Going into this entire month, I think it was fairly certain that we weren’t going to be tremendously active, but we were looking to do a few things.”
Shortly after the trade, Los Angeles announced Butera was optioned to Triple-A Albuquerque. Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti told MLB Network that it’s likely Butera will be the team’s third catcher as a September call-up. Los Angeles, which is currently 57-48 and in first place in the National League West, already has catchers A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz on its roster.
“Wow…what a couple of hours it has been,” Butera tweeted Wedneday. “First I want to thank the @Twins for the opportunity they have me. Gonna miss all the great teammates/friends I’ve made over the last couple of years. Also thanks to all the fans that came out and supported us through good and bad.”
Twins manager Ron Gardenhire was able to relax a bit following the 3 p.m. CT deadline, as his 25-man roster remained in tact. When Gardenhire arrived at Target Field on Wednesday, he wasn’t necessarily sure which players he was going to be able to plug into the lineup.
As his players waited, Gardenhire tried to keep the mood light by cracking jokes as the Twins watched trade news on the clubhouse televisions.
“It’s always those anxious moments. We kid around with a few guys, but it’s serious stuff,” Gardenhire said. “(sad) to see Drew go because he’s been in this organization for awhile now. Good kid. Really good catcher. But I’m happy for him. I think this is a good opportunity for him, and the rest of us can go about our business now.”
The relative inactivity Wednesday is not entirely surprising, as the Twins had only a few players who were possibilities for trade bait. First baseman Justin Morneau’s name was one mentioned in several trade rumors but he remains with the team that drafted him in 1999. Morneau is batting fourth for the Twins on Wednesday against Kansas City.
Having spent his entire career with the same organization, Morneau was relieved to still be a Twin on Wednesday. But he knows things could still change over the next month.
“It’s not done yet. We still have until the end of August,” Morneau said an hour after the trade deadline ended. “Hopefully I’ll remain here and help us win ballgames. That’s all I can do. … It’s just part of the game. Everyone goes through it. But it’s the first time it was a reality for me. It’s probably been tougher on my family and all that. But we’re professionals and that’s what you do. You deal with it.”
Just because a major deal wasn’t made Wednesday doesn’t necessarily mean Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan won’t make any more trades the rest of the year. Teams can still deal players before the Aug. 31 waiver trade deadline, but players must first pass through waivers. Players dealt after that Aug. 31 deadline may not be placed on a team’s postseason roster.
Overall, the deadline was relatively quiet throughout Major League Baseball. The Tigers, Red Sox and White Sox were involved in a three-way trade that sent Jake Peavy to Boston, Avisail Garcia to Chicago and Jose Iglesias to Detroit. Part of the reason for the inactivity, Ryan said, was the looming Biogenesis case, which could result in a number of suspensions in baseball.
“Some of it’s because of the Biogenesis, but some of it’s not,” Ryan said. “But there are some clubs that might have been a little off balance on exactly where they stood and what they had and where they were headed. That has a little bit to do with it. That really didn’t affect us much. It really wasn’t that big of a factor in what we were doing. Every year it’s a little different, but this year it seemed like the overall industry, there weren’t a whole heck of a lot of blockbusters.”
Aside from Morneau, the Twins had a few other players who were mentioned in trade rumors. That included pitcher Mike Pelfrey and closer Glen Perkins. Like Morneau, Pelfrey will be a free agent at the end of the season.
When the deadline came, though, both remained with Minnesota.
“We have a couple free agents that are free agent pending. For the most part, we’re trying to move forward with some players here,” Ryan said. “Some of them you weren’t even going to discuss because they’re not players that other clubs would have an interest in bringing along to help them down the stretch. That’s not what you do with young players. We had a couple players here that could certainly help teams. We didn’t have much interest in discussing unless we were overwhelmed.”