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Twins Still Benefitting from the Pierzynski Trade


Twins Daily Contributor

A.J. Pierzynski has not been a Minnesota Twins player in 20 years, but the team he was drafted by is still reaping the rewards of his return thanks to a favorable trade lineage the Twins have had in that time frame. 

Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today Sports

A.J. Pierzynski is a complicated player in Twins' history. He played a big part in keeping the Twins here and was an all-star catcher on the 2002 team that won the division and beat the Moneyball Oakland A’s. 

Over the course of his six seasons as a Twin, he spent half that time as the starting catcher, hitting .301 with 26 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Pierzynski’s promise to continue as an all-star catcher was there going into the 2003-2004 offseason, but the Twins had a local kid named Joe Mauer, that had much more to offer for the team’s future.

On November 14, 2003, the Twins took into favor the promise of Mauer and shipped Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Pierzynski had a one-and-done year with the Giants and signed with the White Sox the next off-season. The Twins, however, are still reaping the benefits of acquiring these three pitchers as their acquisition of Liriano brought forth the opportunity to bring Jhoan Duran into the Twins organization. 

Nathan needs no reminder of his impact on the Twins. Not only did he become the best closer in franchise history but also one of baseball's best relievers of the 2000s. 

Bonser was a cult hero with the Twins as a rookie in 2006 making 18 starts and finding success at home in the Metrodome. The success of his rookie year was short-lived as it never carried over into the next two seasons. Bonser spent 2007 as the Twins fifth starter and split time between the rotation and bullpen in 2008.  

Following an injury that kept him out all of the 2009 season. The Twins flipped Bonser to the Red Sox for minor-leaguer Chris Province who was out of baseball after one year between Double-A and Triple-A. 

Then there is Liriano, the key figure of this trade and the leg of the trade that lives on today. Liriano was a staple to the Twins' rotation until the 2012 trade deadline. While he was struggling to be consistent at that time after his 2006 Tommy John surgery, the White Sox still called the Twins, seeing value in the lefty. In return for Liriano, the Twins received LHP Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar.

Hernandez was around for the 2013 season with the Twins making 14 forgettable starts and accounting for a 6.83 ERA on the season. He went 8-3 over 16 starts for the Saints in 2015. 

Escobar didn’t immediately become the player that most Twins fans remember him. Once he became an everyday player for the Twins in 2014, that’s when fans began to notice him as a utility infielder that could certainly help this team flourish.

Escobar’s time as a Twin was most memorable in the 2017 Wild Card season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and posted a career-high (at the time) with a .758 OPS.

As Escobar built off his success in 2017 the next year, the Twins were not able to do so as a team seeing themselves as sellers during the 2018 trade deadline. On July 27, 2018, the Twins traded Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in return received a couple of outfield prospects and a pitcher named Duran. 

 

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Jhoan. Duran. 

While Jhoan Duran worked his way through the minors as a starting pitcher. In 2022, Twins fans came to know Duran as their best rookie and best reliever. His time with the Twins looks to be certain until he is eligible for free agency in 2028. A lot can still happen between now and then though. 

There is a possibility the Twins continue growing branches of this trade history lineage tree, in hopes a player of Duran, Escobar, Liriano, or Nathan’s caliber is received in return. 

 


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I hope you are wrong, in that in most of the scenarios, the Twins suck the season following the breakout and said player gets traded away.

Instead, let’s hope the lineage ends with Duran who retires as a Twin after a long run of being the best reliever in baseball and bringing multiple World Series Champion banners to Target Field.

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Nice job - the trees are fun.  Of course Escobar went to the Mets after going to the Brewers for Cooper Hummel and Alberto Ciprian.  Hummel was in the majors with the Mariners last year.  He is 27.  He did not look that good, but he at least reached the majors.  Ciprean seems to have disappeared.  Escobar did collect his 1000th hit which is a real milestone. I did not follow up on the other trade names.

Pierzynski was an outstanding catcher and Eduardo has proven to be an excellent infielder and hitter so we gained, but we also gave up quality.  

 

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Thanks Theo, its fascinating to see the tracings 20 years on and realize the dna of that trade still circulates for Twins. And I hated that move, hated it, when it was made....we should have gotten more for aj! Good thing Im not the gm....🙂

Thie info points out , again, that if the Twins develop high quality talent, at some point market rate contracts are required to maintain that talent. Assuming Duran stays healthy and effective, we have about 3 seasons before the trade chatter will start. Question remains open: will Twins ever pay an elite level pitcher market rate contract? 

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And now we need to move Jhoan into the rotation and give him a shot at developing into the ace we've needed since we traded Johan.  Having a lights out guy at the back of the pen who might not even be in the closer role will be useless (see 2022 Minnesota Twins) if we don't find that ace and if we continue to struggle to put 700 runs across the plate in a season.

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This reminds me of the lady who collected on the Civil War pension until 2020.

"Irene Triplett (January 9, 1930 – May 31, 2020) was the last recipient of an American Civil War pension. Her father had fought for both the Confederacy and later the Union in the Civil War."

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18 minutes ago, theBOMisthebomb said:

This reminds me of the lady who collected on the Civil War pension until 2020.

"Irene Triplett (January 9, 1930 – May 31, 2020) was the last recipient of an American Civil War pension. Her father had fought for both the Confederacy and later the Union in the Civil War."

How old was her dad when she was born? The Civil War ended 65 years before she was born?!?! (Sorry, not sorry for being off topic…)

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29 minutes ago, goulik said:

How old was her dad when she was born? The Civil War ended 65 years before she was born?!?! (Sorry, not sorry for being off topic…)

The old Google/Wiki combo tells us, "Since the death of her father in 1938, Triplett collected $73.13 per month from the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was eligible to inherit her father's pension due to cognitive impairments which she had, qualifying her as the helpless child of a veteran. The total amount she received was about $73,000, or $344,000 when adjusted for inflation.

Widespread public awareness of Triplett's status occurred in 2013 as the result of a Daily Mail story about her.

After the 2018 death of Fred Upham, the son of William H. Upham, she became the last surviving child of a Civil War veteran."

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Twins Daily Contributor
10 minutes ago, theBOMisthebomb said:

The old Google/Wiki combo tells us, "Since the death of her father in 1938, Triplett collected $73.13 per month from the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was eligible to inherit her father's pension due to cognitive impairments which she had, qualifying her as the helpless child of a veteran. The total amount she received was about $73,000, or $344,000 when adjusted for inflation.

Widespread public awareness of Triplett's status occurred in 2013 as the result of a Daily Mail story about her.

After the 2018 death of Fred Upham, the son of William H. Upham, she became the last surviving child of a Civil War veteran."

Love how this article has become a discussion of the longest lasting Civil War pension.

 

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