2003: Twins and Phillies Make a Deal

December 3, 2003

After winning their second consecutive AL Central title, the offseason priority for the Twins was, by many accounts, to make salary room in order to keep closer Eddie Guardado and left fielder Shannon Stewart. Among the players that became expendable was AJ Pierzynski, who was traded to San Francisco in what became Terry Ryan’s most famous trade.

A few weeks later Ryan made another deal that would have almost as much impact for the future of the Twins. Though Eric Milton had missed most of the 2003 season due to a longer-than-expected recovery from knee surgery, he had been the centerpiece of the Twins’ rotation for the past few years. He was thought of as an established, veteran starter – one that might fetch a decent return on the trade market.

The deal was announced on December 3. Aaron Gleeman’s intial reaction reflected what many were thinking – Milton’s injury-proneness made his salary an unnecessary risk for the small market Twins. Unloading him was a good idea, and anything the Twins got in return was considered a bonus. In Carlos Silva, it seemed the Twins had a decent arm for long relief or spot-starting duty. In Nick Punto, the team had an heir apparent to Denny Hocking, who had priced himself out of his utility role with the Twins.

Milton went on to have a decent season with Philadelphia, but it is fair to say that, in retrospect, Carlos Silva was much more valuable than Milton over the next few years (and much more budget-friendly). Look at it this way: in 2007 Milton made over $10 million for 0.1 WAR (he went 0-4 in 31 innings pitched for the Cincinnati Reds). That same year, Silva made about $4.5 million for 2.6 WAR with the Twins.

Silva left as a free agent after the 2007 season. He made a lot of money but had some difficulty matching the success he had with the Twins.

Perhaps the real lasting impact of this deal is in the person of Nick Punto, who just completed his seventh season as Ron Gardenhire’s favorite player. If Punto is indeed done with the Twins (I will believe it when I see him in a different uniform), his legacy is a controversial one to say the least, but it certainly has given us Twins bloggers a lot of fodder over the years.

The player to be named turned out to be pitcher Bobby Korecky, who the Twins let go on waivers in February of 2009 after he made a total of 16 appearances a the major league level.

One Response to 2003: Twins and Phillies Make a Deal

  1. Beau says:

    I love reading old stuff that I read when it originally was written. Gleeman states Nathan could be almost as good as Nathan, and Mauer’s offense will be worse than Pierzynski’s.

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