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MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins were one of the more intriguing teams in the league leading up to the trade deadline. They started Sunday six games back in the AL Central division and with plenty of players on their roster that other teams coveted.
The division is considered perhaps the weakest in baseball, meaning that a margin of six games could be made up over the final two months of the season by a team with a history of late-season runs to the playoffs if they were able to acquire a solid right-hander out of the bullpen or another bat for their struggling lineup.
But their injury-plagued 2011 unit is still languishing well below .500, leading some to wonder if it wouldn’t be better to trade some of the higher priced veterans to replenish a depleted farm system and put themselves in better position to compete for the long term.
In the end, the Twins were neither buyers nor sellers. The deadline came and went on Sunday without the Twins making a single move, and a loss in Oakland dropped them seven games behind the Tigers in the division.
“As much as we wanted to try to improve this club and again to provide some more pieces for (manager Ron Gardenhire) and the coaches and everybody, I’d rather make no deal than a bad deal,” Smith told several reporters in a conference call.
It wasn’t for lack of effort.
Smith said the Twins front office was on the phone constantly throughout the week as they looked for deals to make. While not commenting specifically, it was reported that the Twins were in advanced talks with Washington on a deal that involved center fielder Denard Span and Nationals closer Drew Storen.
The Twins had several other players that were high on many wish lists, including outfielders Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel, who will be free agents at the end of the season. Right-hander Kevin Slowey, who was finishing up a rehab assignment in Triple-A Rochester and has fallen out of favor with Gardenhire and many in the organization, was also believed to be available.
Division rival Cleveland made a big splash by adding Ubaldo Jimenez from Colorado, but the Twins couldn’t find the right deal to make to either help them in the short or long term.
“We had a lot of activity, we had a lot of calls, we made progress on a number of possibilities,” Smith said. “But we just couldn’t get to the finish line.
“And it’s disappointing because we’ve had an awful lot of people do an awful lot of work.”
The work doesn’t stop now. Teams can still make trades in August, but the players involved must pass through waivers before the transaction is completed. Smith said the team will still “be aggressive trying to improve this club.” He also made it clear that he thinks the team is still very much in the race.
“We’re in contention, and there’s no question this club has the talent to contend and win this division,” he said. “We’ve done it a number of times over the last decade. You always want to try to provide more ammunition to the manager and the other players. If we can make the team better, we’re going to.”
At least one player was happy the Twins didn’t make any moves.
“I want to be in a Twins uniform after today and for the rest of the deal I signed a year ago!” tweeted Span, who will be activated from the disabled list on Tuesday. “To my teammates that I hope I see again u guys know what type of person and team player I am.”
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