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Saved by the Red Sox, Twins get right catcher

Photo by Joe Nicholson / USA TODAY Minnesota Twins catcher Kurt Suzuki, left, walks back to the dugout after scoring a run against the Seattle Mariners during the second inning on July 9 at Safeco Field.

The Twins’ most productive move at the non-waiver trade deadline was the signing of Kurt Suzuki to a contract extension. Everyone can thank the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals for that.

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Remember that the Twins were hot after A.J. Pierzynski over the winter and at one point thought they had him locked up with a two-year contract. Instead, Pierzynski opted to sign a one-year deal with the Red Sox. Crestfallen, it was then that the Twins front office turned to free agent Suzuki.

It soon became apparent to the Red Sox that Pierzynski was at the end of the line and they cut him loose before the all-star break. Imagine if the Twins had signed him for two years. He’d have joined Jason Bartlett, Jason Kubel and Matt Guerrier in making the Twins 0 for 4 in the nostalgia department.

Although to their credit, the Twins were not interested bringing back Scott Leius and Gene Larkin in 2014. Those rumors turned out to be false.

Saved by the BoSox! Giving two years to Pierzynski would have ranked right up there (or down there) with the decision to re-sign Mike Pelfrey for two more years.

But wait! Undaunted by their near brush with death, the Twins again became infatuated with Pierzynski after his release from Boston. Apparently, the front office considered him a viable alternative in the event it could not sign Suzuki to an extension. That was the talk, anyway. Don’t ask me why. Perhaps the organizational calendar is stuck on Throwback Thursday.

Yet Lady Luck again intervened on behalf of the Twins. The Cardinals picked up Pierzynski for, uh, deep depth.

Saved by the Cards! That changed everything. Minnesota’s catching situation pretty much then became Suzuki or bust — and there might have been a mutiny if Terry Ryan had chosen “bust.”

Granted, Suzuki might be hitting over his head this season, but he is a tough, demanding catcher who runs the show. The pitchers know a good thing when they see it and had lobbied the front office to keep him. The alternative would have been Josmil Pinto.

Pinto is a Venezuelan version of Matt LeCroy: He has a power stroke but you shouldn’t use him behind the plate unless every other backstop within a 50-mile radius drops dead two minutes before game time. Pinto has been in the Twins organization for nine years now and he still can’t catch. Clearly no amount of work or precision drills or private instruction is going to change this.

Extending Suzuki’s contract was necessary, and Ryan did what he had to do. Furthermore, Suzuki will be good to have around when some of the pitching prospects finally get here. He’ll get their attention and keep them in line on the mound.

The Twins’ other deadline move was … blah. Sam Fuld for Tommy Milone, a soft-tossing lefty, isn’t going to make or break the franchise, although I thought Fuld was a valuable fourth outfielder. What makes this move curious is that it seems to point to Danny Santana being the 2015 Opening Day center fielder.

Who else is there? Byron Buxton, his season virtually lost to injuries, still is in Class A ball. Perhaps the only other alternative is Aaron Hicks, and I’ve lost track as to whether he’s batting right-handed, switch-hitting, or straddling the plate. So Santana must be the shortstop of the distant future and the center fielder of the near future.

Meanwhile, some of the other Twins veterans who reportedly were on the block likely will be moved before the waiver-trade deadline at the end of August. The Twins are just trying to save some money on their contracts. They never get anything good in return, anyway. Remember Justin Morneau for Alex Presley? Beauty.

And who cares if the organization saves a little cash by dumping a few contracts? It’s not as if that dough is going to get put back into the payroll.

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The Twins are not yet to the point where a cash infusion will help. There still is no core group at the major league level. So maybe guys like Josh Willingham and Kevin Correia, while they still are here, will do something to create a little momentum for next year. But rest assured, a few contracts will be jettisoned in August.

Keeping Suzuki was a good thing, even if he hits .250 over the next couple of seasons. The catching position now is set for a while, although probably all this will be revisited next July at the trade deadline when the Twins inevitably become sellers again.

The Pioneer Press is a media partner with Forum News Service.