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Last-place Twins close to posting ‘for sale’ signs?

By Dan Myers

Sports Xchange

MINNEAPOLIS — A potentially season-defining homestand for the Minnesota Twins is off to a rough beginning.

After winning five of their final six games heading into the All-Star break, the Twins start the second half of the season with 10 games at home, giving them a chance to build on the momentum gained in series wins at Seattle and Colorado.

The Twins, who started the homestand six games under the .500 mark, were swept at home by the Tampa Bay Rays over the weekend before beating the Cleveland Indians 4-3 Monday in the series opener.

A team that was on the edge of contention at the break now is likely now in sell mode as the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline approaches.

While Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan didn’t directly confirm that, he went about as far as he could without actually doing so.

“We aren’t even .500. We’re a long way from .500,” Ryan said, whose team is 45-55. “I’ve got a fair idea of what we’re doing, where we’re at, who’s ahead of us. We have a lot of clubs to jump over.”

“Without coming out and saying it, until we get to .500, we’re not exactly where we want to be at this juncture of the season.”

The Twins have a number of veteran parts coming to the end of their contracts, players who might be of interest to contending teams. Left fielder Josh Willingham, designated hitter/first baseman Kendrys Morales, catcher Kurt Suzuki and starting pitcher Kevin Correia are all in the final years of their deals, and they could help clubs in a variety of different ways. All except Suzuki are having down seasons, however, and likely won’t retrieve anything more than a B-level prospect.

Suzuki, one of the Twins’ two All-Stars, could be intriguing to teams like the St. Louis Cardinals or Baltimore Orioles. Both teams have a franchise backstop Yadier Molina (Cardinals) and Matt Wieters (Orioles) likely out for the season due to an injury.

Even third baseman Trevor Plouffe or bullpen arms Samuel Deduno or Casey Fien could draw marginal interest on the trade market if that is indeed the direction Ryan and the Twins choose to go.

Until then, manager Ron Gardenhire said he would continue to operate the same way in the clubhouse.

“I can’t worry about that,” Gardenhire said. “We just have to try and find a way to win a few ballgames. Upstairs, there’s a conversation going on. We’ll have meetings, we always do at this time of year, talk to the staff and see where they are at. But we can’t worry about that. We need to play baseball.”