Twins' Top 5 Winter Meetings moves

December 7th, 2020

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins traditionally haven't been a splashy team at the Winter Meetings.

That's not to say the club has been completely quiet at previous Winter Meetings. In fact, the top transaction on this list actually netted one of the most decorated players in Twins history.

Here’s a look back at five of the most significant Winter Meetings moves in Twins history:

1. Twins acquire Johan Santana from Marlins for Jared Camp
Dec. 13, 1999
Once in a while, the Rule 5 Draft yields a productive Major League player for a team. It's even more rare to see the selection process produce a franchise-changing talent, but that's exactly what the Twins got when they made a quick swap with the Marlins following the 1999 Rule 5 Draft on the final day of that year's Winter Meetings. The Twins, with the first pick, took right-hander Jared Camp from Cleveland. The Marlins picked second and selected from the Astros. The clubs then made a prearranged swap, with the Marlins sending the Twins some cash with Santana.

Camp never made it to the Majors. Santana, on the other hand, broke out with a 2.99 ERA in 2002 and began his string of perennial Cy Young Award contention as one of the most dominant pitchers in the league. He won his first American League Cy Young Award in '04, was robbed of another in '05 (third behind Bartolo Colon and Mariano Rivera) despite almost certainly being the most deserving candidate and won another in '06, nearly joining Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson as the only pitchers to win three straight Cy Young Awards. Santana was 93-44 with a 3.22 ERA and 1,381 strikeouts over eight seasons in Minnesota -- helping the club to four division titles in that span -- before leaving for the Mets.

2. Twins sign Ervin Santana
Dec. 13, 2014
Before there was Josh Donaldson, the club record for largest free-agent contract belonged to , who inked a four-year, $55 million deal with the Twins at the 2014 Winter Meetings. (Before that, the record had belonged to Ricky Nolasco.) Ervin Santana's tenure with his new club got off to a rocky start when he was issued an 80-game suspension days before the '15 season after testing positive for stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance. The last season of the deal was also lost to a finger injury that held him to five starts (with an 8.03 ERA).

Still, the middle two years of the deal saw some of the most effective starting pitching in the club's recent history. Ervin Santana and his 3.38 ERA in 30 starts were among the few bright spots in an otherwise forgettable 2016 season, and his '17 was even better, as he pitched to a 3.28 ERA with a MLB-leading three complete-game shutouts, an All-Star selection and a seventh-place finish in the AL Cy Young Award voting.

3. Twins sign Paul Molitor
Dec. 5, 1995
This deal for one year and $2 million came toward the end of 's lengthy Hall of Fame career, but it brought the St. Paul native back to the Twin Cities. The aging hometown star showed that he still had plenty left in his bat. In his age-39 season, Molitor played in a career-high 161 games and led the AL with 225 hits, posting a .341/.390/.468 slash line to earn his fourth career Silver Slugger Award and a 13th-place finish in AL MVP voting.

Most significant, Molitor was able to don his hometown uniform on Sept. 16, 1996, when he tripled into the right-center-field gap at Kauffman Stadium to become the 21st member of the 3,000-hit club. He stayed with the Twins for two more seasons to close out his career, retiring at the end of the 1998 season following three years, 530 hits and 38 stolen bases with Minnesota.

4. Twins acquire Jerry Koosman from Mets for Greg Field and Jesse Orosco
Dec. 8, 1978
Here's another Minnesotan for the list. is a native of Appleton, Minn., three hours west of the Twin Cities, near the South Dakota border. He spent most of his 19-year career with the Mets before he asked for a trade and ended up with his hometown team following the 1978 Winter Meetings. At that point, Koosman had established himself as a consistently solid starter with a career 3.09 ERA in 12 seasons for the Mets, including a World Series title with that '69 "Miracle Mets" club. He won 20 games in his first season with his hometown team but posted ERAs in the 4s in the next two years before the Twins traded him to the White Sox in '81.

5. Twins acquire Vance Worley and Trevor May from Phillies for Ben Revere
Dec. 6, 2012
There were two other options that could have rounded out this list, but both of those trades (Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson for J.J. Hardy and Brendan Harris; Ron Kline for Bernie Allen and Camilo Pascual) proved more consequential for whom the Twins lost rather than whom they gained. With that in mind, let's instead give a nod to 's recently concluded Twins career. Ben Revere had been a solid defensive outfielder for the Twins from 2010-12 before Minnesota traded him away for a pair of right-handers. lasted only one season with the Twins -- he was their 2013 Opening Day starter but posted a 7.21 ERA -- but the real value came in May, a Minor Leaguer at the time, who came up as a starter before posting a 3.19 ERA in his final three seasons in Minnesota as a reliever. He left for the Mets following the 2020 campaign.