With no baseball to watch, we take a look backwards at the Minnesota Twins best trades of each decade, starting with the 1960s.
With the Minnesota Twins still waiting for the season to begin, we take a look back at the best trades of all time for the team in every season since the franchise moved to Minnesota. The Twins have a lengthy trade history, so there are plenty to choose from.
For a trade to make this list, the Twins need to come out ahead in terms of WAR. Once we’ve gone over the top deal for every year, we will rank them to find out the top trade the Twins ever made. With that in mind, we jump back to 1961, so let’s get these rankings started.
1961 Minnesota Twins
This was the only deal that worked out for the Twins in 1961. The other four trades that the team made resulted in a negative WAR swing. Gardner, the future Twins manager, was not a great player with the team, posting a -0.5 WAR over 190 games with the Twins before the trade.
After the deal, Gardner posted an even 0.0 WAR the next year and was shipped off to Boston in a midseason trade. On the flip side, McDevitt put up a 0.6 WAR over the rest of the 1961 season for the Twins before being sold to the Kansas City Athletics, meaning he had some positive impact.
Result: +0.6 WAR after the Trade
1962 Minnesota Twins
This was the first trade the Twins made that had any real significance. The team traded one-time All-Star Pedro Ramos for one-time All-Star (and Minnesota native) Dick Stigman and four-time All-Star Vic Power. In addition to being a decent hitter, Power also was a four time Gold Glove winner.
The Indians made this trade because Stigman had mostly disappointed and Power had just turned 33, while they were getting a very good pitcher in his prime. Unfortunately, Ramos only produced a 3.2 WAR over his two and a half seasons with the team, while the Twins were clear winners.
Power won two more Gold Gloves and put up a 1.7 WAR with the Twins before being traded two years later. Stigman was even better, putting up a 6.8 WAR and winning 37 games before being traded to the Red Sox in 1966.
Result: +5.3 WAR after the Trade, and the Twins start competing.
1963 Minnesota Twins
One of the most lopsided trade of the decade is an easy one to explain. The Indians traded away a pitcher with a lot of talent that was struggling (Perry) in order to land a more reliable starter (Kralick). I don’t either team could have predicted what happened next.
Kralick was a reliable starter for the Indians, posting a 6.6 WAR after the trade and making an All-Star team over the next five years. Perry turned into one of the greatest Twins starters ever and one a Cy Young while working to a 26.3 WAR. I wonder who won this trade?
Result: +19.7 WAR after the trade, and the Twins get an ace.
1964 Minnesota Twins
The Twins trade for Mudcat Grant deserves mention here, as Grant helped the team win the A.L. Pennant in 1965, but it was nowhere near as significant as the team’s trade for Cesar Tovar, a player whose versatility would become so important.
Tovar sits twenty-second in Twins history with a 25.9 WAR, after just being a prospect in this trade for a player that would only put up a 2.2 WAR in his new home, giving the Twins a lopsided advantage in this trade.
Result: +23.7 WAR after the trade, and the Twins add a pennant-winning piece.
1965 Minnesota Twins
In 1965, the Twins won the AL Pennant with a stacked roster. The thought process of the season was: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The only trade made that season was prospect Joe Christian for backup outfielder Carroll Hardy.
Hardy added an 0.2 WAR over eleven games, while Christian never made the majors. That makes this trade a win for the Twins.
Result: +0.2 WAR after the trade, didn’t damage chemistry
1966 Minnesota Twins
One of the rare trades that works out pretty well for both teams, the combination of Cimino, Hall, and Mincher together put up a WAR of 6.0 during their time in California, while Hernandez and the star of this trade, Dean Chance, combined for a WAR of 8.0.
The trade of Jimmie Hall was upsetting for Twins fans, but getting another star level pitcher was a worthy get for the Twins, as Chance won 20 games and was an All-Star for a really good Twins team in 1967.
Result: +2.0 WAR after the trade, added another star pitcher.
1967 Minnesota Twins
Despite a good season in 1967, Calvin Griffith decided it was time for a minor reset. Griffith jettisoned former All-Star Mudcat Grant and former MVP Versalles to the Dodgers for a couple of relievers and former All-Star catcher to replace Earl Battey.
What the Twins gave up in name brand, they earned in value. Grant only pitched one season with the Dodgers, earning a 1.1 WAR as a reliever. Versalles showed he was over the hill at age 28 (-1.1 WAR) and he would retire just three years later.
For the Twins return, Miller and Perranoski combined to give the Twins 8.2 WAR over just six seasons, while Roseboro made an All-Star team and provided some value for the team (0.8) behind the plate. This was another good trade for the Twins.
Result: +8.7 WAR after the trade, improved bullpen, and catching upgrade
1968 Minnesota Twins
This was the only trade for the Twins in 1968. The team sent starting pitcher Jim Merritt to the Reds for All-Star shortstop Leo Cardenas. The reasoning for both sides was simple: the Reds needed pitching, and the Twins needed a shortstop.
Merritt immediately became an All-Star for the Reds, and Cardenas did the same for the Twins. On paper it seems like a completely even trade. That being said, Cardenas put up a WAR of 11.1 over three seasons in Minnesota, while Merritt only put up 2.8 over four years.
Merritt was helpful for the Big Red Machine’s early four years, but Leo Cardenas was essential to the Twins winning two American League West titles. Add that to the WAR numbers, the Twins are happy with this deal.
Result: +8.3 WAR, valuable starting shortstop
1969 Minnesota Twins
The Trade: Minnesota Twins trade a player to be named later (Jerry Crider) to the Chicago White Sox for 1B Cotton Nash.
One of two trades to go down in 1969, this trade involved two players that didn’t really have lengthy careers. The other trade was a complete disaster for the Twins and should not be discussed here. 1969 was a great year for the Twins. Just not for Twins trades. Yikes.
Result: -0.3 WAR
Top 5 Minnesota Twins Trades of the Decade
- 1964: Minnesota Twins trade P Gerry Arrigo to the Cincinnati Reds for OF Cesar Tovar. Bringing in Cesar Tovar for an extra pitcher was good for a bonus 23.7 WAR, making it an easy call for the top spot
- 1963: Minnesota Twins trade P Jack Kralick to the Cleveland Indians for P Jim Perry. The Twins gave an above average pitcher and got a player that would make their team Hall of Fame. Pretty good deal.
- 1967: Minnesota Twins trade P Mudcat Grant and SS Zoilo Versalles to the Los Angeles Dodgers for P Bob Miller, P Ron Perranoski, and C John Roseboro. This Twins shakeup helped the team stay relevant at the end of the decade, even if it meant sacrificing some popular familiar faces.
- 1968: Minnesota Twins trade P Jim Merritt to the Cincinnati Reds for SS Leo Cardenas. The Twins had an excess of good starting pitchers and used it to acquire an All-Star shortstop that helped lead them to their first two division titles.
- 1962: Minnesota Twins trade P Pedro Ramos to the Cleveland Indians for 1B Vic Power and P Dick Stigman. This trade helped make the team relevant for the first time in Minnesota and really showed that the team was here to stay.