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After early struggles, Twins likely Deadline sellers

After early struggles, Twins likely Deadline sellers

After early struggles, Twins likely Deadline sellers
MINNEAPOLIS -- Sitting 13 games under .500 and 11 games back in the American League Central at the All-Star break, the Twins look primed to be sellers come the July 31 Trade Deadline.

Twins general manager Terry Ryan, however, was hesitant to say whether Minnesota will be active as sellers at the Deadline. But he did add that he's not happy where the Twins are in the standings at the break.

"I don't wait until July to analyze this club and where we're at," Ryan said. "It starts Opening Day through the end of the season. We know where we're at. We're about 11 games back and 13 games under .500. That's not where we want to be."

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The Twins might have more incentive to sell, considering the new rules in effect this season as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement.

With an added Wild Card in each league, there will be more teams looking to buy, while the compensation for departing free agents has changed as well.

The old way of Type A and Type B free agents as determined by the Elias Sports Bureau is gone, as clubs must now offer their free agents the average of the top 125 contracts to be eligible for compensation. That figure is currently at about $12.4 million.

So while the Twins received Draft-pick compensation for losing free agents Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel last year, that won't be the case for their impending free agents such as Francisco Liriano, unless they offer him a one-year contract north of about $12.4 million.

Liriano remains the club's best trade chip, and he's been pitching like an ace since rejoining the rotation on May 30 after a stint in the bullpen. Over his last eight starts, the left-hander has a 2.74 ERA, with 52 strikeouts, 24 walks and one homer allowed in 49 1/3 innings.

Liriano said he's aware that his name has been floated around in trade rumors, but the lefty says he's doing his best to block it out.

"I don't follow it," Liriano said. "I try not to pay attention. My agent told me sometimes that some teams are asking about me, but I try not to think about it. I just try to get better every day, just try to pitch better, and whatever happens, happens."

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has already talked to his club about ignoring trade rumors, as he said it doesn't do the players any good to worry about things that are out of their hands.

"You can't control it," Gardenhire said. "There a few people in here who have control with their contract, but most don't. I've always said that if someone wants you, it should be flattering. It's when they don't want you, that's when it's not flattering. So just be glad your name is being mentioned. It means you're doing OK. That you're a pretty good player. Guys want you."

Closer Matt Capps is another player who has been mentioned in trade rumors, but he is currently on the disabled list. He's expected to return to the bullpen on Friday, and could be dealt if he proves to be healthy this month.

There have also been reports about teams checking in on outfielders Denard Span and Josh Willingham, but both remain unlikely to be traded because of their production and team-friendly contracts.

First baseman Justin Morneau has had his name pop up as well, but as one of the cornerstones of the organization -- along with Joe Mauer -- it's also highly unlikely he'll be dealt. And Mauer, who has a full no-trade clause, said his teammates are trying their best not to concern themselves with trade rumors this time of year.

"That's one of those things where you can't really control it," Mauer said. "I've learned that, too, where you might have some guys you wish would come play with you, but you can't worry about those things -- you worry about what you can control."

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, and follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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