On this day in Minnesota Twins history, the Twins trade away OF Roberto Kelly for two minor league pitchers. One being rotation mainstay Joe Mays.
20 years ago on this day, August 20, 1997, the Minnesota Twins traded away veteran outfielder Roberto Kelly to the Seattle Mariners. In return, the Twins received two minor league pitchers in Joe Mays and Jeromy Palki.
The Twins signed Kelly before the 1996 season. From there he had one of his best seasons in regards to hitting. In that first season with the Twins, Kelly batted a line of .323/.375/.470.
In 1997 the Twins found themselves at 51-73 after August 19th and the Seattle Mariners had a need to protect Ken Griffey Jr. in their lineup. Kelly fit the need and a trade was made. Kelly helped the Mariners team reach the ALDS and performed well for the team through the playoffs. Kelly was the definition of a rental player as he left the Mariners that offseason as a free agent to sign with the Texas Rangers.
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As for the return, the Twins didn’t get a whole lot in the way results from Palki. He spent his time as a decent minor league pitcher who peaked at the AAA level for the Twins.
Joe Mays is the player who ended up becoming the gem of the trade from a Twins’ perspective. He was a constant in the Twins’ rotation from 1999-2006. 2001 was Mays’ best season with the organization, going 17-13 with 3.16 ERA and an All-Star selection. In 2002 he started 3 games as the Twins competed in the postseason before losing the Anaheim Angels in the ALCS.
Mays was never a truly “lights out” type of pitcher. His constant presence in the Twins’ rotation, in addition to a very good 2001, made this a very good trade for the Twins. They flipped 2 months of a veteran outfielder for 7 years of a starting rotation piece. The exact kind of trade you hope to see from a team when they are struggling.
Today is the day to go dust off your Joe Mays jersey and relive your favorite memories of him. Is there any specific game or play that sticks out for you over Mays’ career with the Twins? Share it with us!