10 biggest trades in Twins history

December 1st, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS -- There's nothing quite like a major trade in baseball, as it's always fun to see how it eventually turns out for both sides.

The Twins have been involved in several big trades since their move to Minnesota in 1961, and here's a look at the 10 biggest in franchise history as part of MLB.com's look at the Top 10 trades for each club:

1) Liriano, Nathan and Bonser for Pierzynski

Twins got from Giants: RHP Joe Nathan, LHP , RHP Boof Bonser
Twins gave up: C A.J. Pierzynski
Date: Nov. 14, 2003

It was the best trade of former longtime general manager Terry Ryan's career, as it helped the Twins become a force in the American League Central. Nathan immediately became the club's closer and was a four-time All-Star with the Twins, while Liriano had several strong seasons with the club, including his breakout 2006 campaign, before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Bonser also had a solid rookie year in '06, but struggled his next two seasons. Pierzynski played just one season with the Giants before signing with the White Sox in free agency. The Twins had Joe Mauer ready to replace Pierzynski at catcher and came away with a steal of a trade.

2) Santana acquired in Rule 5 trade

Twins got from Marlins: LHP Johan Santana
Twins gave up: RHP Jared Camp
Date: Dec. 13, 1999

The Twins acquired a future ace before the 2000 season, as they had the first pick in the Rule 5 Draft and arranged a trade with the Marlins, who had the second selection. The Twins would take Camp and trade him to the Marlins for Santana, who was selected from the Astros, and also receive $50,000 to cover the cost of the pick. Santana spent his first few seasons both relieving and starting, but with the help of Bobby Cuellar, he developed a devastating changeup and won two Cy Young Awards with the Twins in 2004 and '06. Camp never reached the Majors.

3) Tapani and Aguilera for Viola

Twins got from Mets: RHP Rick Aguilera, RHP Kevin Tapani, RHP Tim Drummond, LHP David West, RHP Jack Savage
Twins gave up: LHP Frank Viola
Date: July 31, 1989

Viola was instrumental to the Twins' first World Series title in 1987, winning World Series MVP honors, but the Twins opted to move him at the 1989 Trade Deadline for five pitchers from the Mets. Tapani and Aguilera both proved to be key in Minnesota's next World Series championship in 1991, as Tapani served as a front-line starter and Aguilera was an All-Star closer.

4) Milton and Guzman for Knoblauch

Twins got from Yankees: LHP Eric Milton, INF Cristian Guzman, OF Brian Buchanan, RHP Danny Mota
Twins gave up: INF Chuck Knoblauch
Date: Feb. 6, 1998

Knoblauch was a star in Minnesota, winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 1991 while helping the club to a World Series victory. But by the 1998 season, the Twins had gone through several losing years and needed an influx of younger talent. Knoblauch was moved to the Yankees for Milton and Guzman, who later became All-Stars with Minnesota and helped turn the Twins' fortunes in the early 2000s. Buchanan was also solid as a reserve outfielder and was traded to the Padres for Jason Bartlett in 2002.

5) Smalley and Cubbage for Blyleven

Twins got from Rangers: SS Roy Smalley, RHP Bill Singer, RHP Jim Gideon, INF Mike Cubbage, $250,000
Twins gave up: RHP Bert Blyleven, INF Danny Thompson
Date: June 1, 1976

Blyleven, a future Hall of Famer, was in his seventh season with the Twins when he was traded to the Rangers because of a salary dispute. In return, they received Smalley, who became one of the best shortstops in Twins history, as he had unusual power for the position. Cubbage was also a solid third baseman for the Twins from 1976-80. Smalley played with the Twins from '76-'82 before being involved in another major trade that netted the Twins both shortstop Greg Gagne and closer Ron Davis from the Yankees. He later finished his career in Minnesota from 1985-87, winning the World Series with the '87 club. Blyleven, though, was also on that team, as he was traded from Cleveland back to the Twins on Aug. 1, 1985.

6) Carew traded to Angels

Twins got from Angels: OF Ken Landreaux, C/OF Dave Engle, RHP Paul Hartzell, LHP Brad Havens
Twins gave up: INF Rod Carew
Date: Feb. 3, 1979

Carew was an All-Star in all 12 seasons with Minnesota, including winning seven batting titles, but requested a trade before the 1979 season because of comments made by then-owner Calvin Griffith. He was sent to the Angels for four players, but the trade didn't work out for the Twins, as Carew remained an elite hitter in Anaheim and none of the four players acquired developed into stars. Landreaux was an All-Star in 1980, putting together a franchise-record 31-game hitting streak, but was traded to the Dodgers before the 1981 season in a move that netted Mickey Hatcher. Engle was an All-Star in 1984, but had an otherwise unremarkable career.

7) Perry acquired from Cleveland

Twins got: RHP Jim Perry
Twins gave up: LHP Jack Kralick
Date: May 2, 1963

Perry is one of the more underrated pitchers in Twins history, as he won 128 games and posted a 3.15 ERA in 10 seasons in Minnesota after the trade. He won the Cy Young Award in 1970 after going 24-12 with a 3.04 ERA. Kralick was an All-Star for Cleveland in 1964, but didn't have the longevity of Perry, who was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2011.

8) GoGo, Guerra, Humber and Mulvey for Johan

Twins got from Mets: OF , RHP , RHP Philip Humber, RHP Kevin Mulvey
Twins gave up: LHP Santana
Date: Feb. 2, 2008

The Twins had the chance to add top young talent to their roster, as Santana was one of the best pitchers in the game and several clubs were interested in a trade. Minnesota ultimately decided to send Santana to the Mets for a package centered around Gomez. But it turned out to be one of the worst trades in franchise history, as Guerra, Humber and Mulvey never panned out, and Gomez didn't break out until after he left the Twins. After two subpar years, Gomez was traded to the Brewers for shortstop J.J. Hardy. But even that trade didn't work out, as the Twins traded Hardy after one year to the Orioles in a deal brought back right-handers Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.

9) Tiant, Williams for Nettles

Twins got: RHP Luis Tiant, RHP Stan Williams
Twins gave up: 3B Graig Nettles, RHP Dean Chance, RHP Bob Miller, CF Ted Uhlaender
Date: Dec. 10, 1969

It was a huge trade for the Twins at the time, as Tiant had a 2.84 ERA in six seasons with Cleveland before the trade, and Williams was thought of as an ace reliever. Tiant, though, only threw 92 2/3 innings with the Twins because of a shoulder issue and was released after the season. Williams had a 1.99 ERA in 68 relief appearances in 1970 but was traded to the Cardinals the next year. Tiant signed with the Red Sox after being released and became one of the better starters in the AL in his eight seasons in Boston. Nettles was the big loss, as he went on to play 19 more seasons in the Majors, becoming a six-time All-Star.

10) Young for Garza, Bartlett

Twins got from Rays: OF , INF , OF
Twins gave up: RHP Matt Garza, INF Bartlett, RHP Eddie Morlan
Date: Nov. 28, 2007

On paper, the trade made sense for general manager Bill Smith, as Young was a former top prospect who was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2003 Draft and needed a change of scenery. Young, though, never developed the way the Twins hoped and was a defensive liability in his four seasons with Minnesota. Garza and Bartlett each provided Tampa Bay with three strong years, helping to turn around its franchise.