MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins clubhouse had been patiently waiting for a sign over the past couple days. The one that would dictate just what direction Twins general manager Terry Ryan would take heading into this year's trade deadline. That message seemed to come across pretty clear when the club announced prior to Monday's game against the Royals that it had dealt second baseman Luis Castillo to the Mets in exchange for two Minor League prospects. Or at least it did to the players.
"It's hard to lose a guy like that," closer Joe Nathan said. "It can't help but hurt everything." The mood inside the clubhouse was decidedly somber following the move. And it had to do with more than just players saddened by losing one of their teammates. Besides adding his veteran presence both on the field and in the clubhouse, Castillo had been one of the more consistent hitters on the team this season. A three-time Gold Glove winner, Castillo was batting .304 with a .357 on-base percentage as the club's primary leadoff hitter. So with the Twins just seven games back of the Tigers in the American League Central race and 6 1/2 out of the Wild Card, the decision to move the veteran player seemed to be taken by the team as a sign that the club had chosen to put their focus on the 2008 season rather than this year. But Ryan vehemently denied that notion. "We're not giving up at all," Ryan said. "We're 6 1/2 games back, and we're better than we were a week ago. If we didn't think we could absorb this, I certainly wouldn't have done that. Now I know the perception sometimes when you give up a veteran player in late July is that it may not look good. But I still think we can absorb this." Ryan said the talks between the club and the Mets regarding Castillo have been in the works since July 20, when the Mets lost starting second baseman Jose Valentin. Valentin suffered a season-ending injury when he fouled a pitch off his leg, breaking his shin. But the deal only came together in the past 24 hours, just one day before Tuesday's 3 p.m. CT deadline. It's clear the move is set for the future. Despite taking the final two months of Castillo's $5.75 million salary off the books, the Twins in return received two prospects who are considered to be a ways off from contributing to the big-league club. The two prospects the Twins received in the deal are catcher Drew Butera, the son of former Twins catcher Sal Butera, and outfielder Dustin Martin.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.