September 1, 1987
The Twins waited until the morning of September 1 to formally announce the move, but Don Baylor was added to the Twins’ roster before midnight on August 31, the deadline for a player to be eligible for the post season.
The reason for the delayed announcement was that, to make room for Baylor, the Twins needed to let go of somebody. That somebody turned out to be future HOF’er Steve Carlton, whose 6.70 ERA left something to be desired.
Baylor, for his part, was excited about the prospect of playing for the Twins:
“How many games out are we (Boston is 15 games behind Detroit in the AL East)?” Baylor said. “Well, (the Twins) would excite me a lot more. That’s what players play for, being in a championship series. . . . Hopefully, I’ll be able to give them some experience on what the playoffs are all about, and taking one step at a time.”
There was also optimism among the local crowd, though it was somewhat tempered by what the Twins didn’t get before the deadline (from Dan Barreiro’s 9/2/87 column):
Make no mistake: This was a low-risk, solid move by Twins executive vice president Andy MacPhail. But there is one thing Baylor cannot do – and that is pitch. The acquisition of Baylor just before the midnight deadline Monday should not obscure the fact that the Twins have been unable to do much of anything to strengthen their starting pitching. Tuesday night’s 9-0 loss to the Red Sox was a not-so-gentle reminder.
The Twins have tried to improve their starters, but let’s look at the facts: Joe Niekro may have done wonders for the emery board business, and he may have given a four-star performance on David Letterman’s show, but he has not helped much on the mound. Last night, he gave up five runs in four innings. Steve Carlton was worth a look, but it’s time somebody stuck a fork in him. A big one. Shish kebab-size.
Baylor, of all people, should know that. He hit a grand slam home run off Carlton 10 days ago at Fenway Park.
Not that the long ball is the only way Baylor can get on base. “You’ll notice,” said Evans, “that he always seems to get hit in a crucial situation.”
Baylor’s batting average is .239. His on-base average is a robust .355, thanks in part to his well-known propensity for getting plunked by a pitched ball. He has elevated the act into an art form. This year he has been hit 24 times – the entire Twins team has been hit 20 times – to extend his all-time record total to 251. “He always finds a way to help you win,” said Evans.
Eventually he may help the Twins in the clubhouse, too. As Kelly said, “He’s been in the wars before.” In 18 years he has played on pennant contenders in Baltimore, California, New York and Boston. “The first time you get traded, it’s very traumatic,” Baylor said. “But after a while, you realize it’s a business. Two days ago, it said `Red Sox’ across my chest. Now it says `Twins.’ That’s the way it is.”
Baylor’s performance down the stretch did help the Twins – he batted .286/.397/.306 and his WARP3 was 0.2 in just 20 games played. His biggest impact, however, came in the post season. He went 2-for-5 against the Tigers in the ALCS before posting a .385/.467/.615 line in 15 World Series plate appearances, including his game-tying two-run home run in the fifth inning of Game 6.
In return for Baylor, the Twins sent right-hander Enrique Rios to Boston as the PTBNL. Rios had spent the 1987 season in single “A” Kensoha. Rios never made it to the major leagues.