Throughout July we're going to present 30 deals in 30 days: the best trade deadline deal ever made by each team. We've covered the AL East and NL East so far and are now on the AL Central.
THE TEAM: Minnesota Twins
THE YEAR: 2003
THE SITUATION: One year earlier, the Twins had fended off contraction and won the AL Central handily, ending a string of 10 straight seasons without a postseason appearance. They were looking to follow up with another division title in '03 but slumped into the All-Star break, dropping eight straight to widen their deficit in the standings to 7.5 games. Consistently struggling to push runs across the plate, Minnesota needed a spark at the top of the lineup.
THE TRADE: The day after the All-Star Game, general manager Terry Ryan made his move, trading promising young outfielder Bobby Kielty to Toronto for established veteran Shannon Stewart. In Kielty, the Twins were giving up an inexpensive switch-hitter with standout on-base skills, but Ryan felt that a bold maneuver was necessary to jump-start his fledgling offense. "It's time we start shaking this ballclub up to see if we can get it going in the right direction," said the Minnesota GM.
THE AFTERMATH: And in the right direction they went. Coming out of the break, the Twins snapped their losing streak authoritatively by winning five in a row. They kept on winning and overtook first place in early September, ultimately taking the division comfortably. With Stewart hitting .322/.384/.470 as their leadoff man, the Twins went 46-23 after the trade. Certainly there were plenty of other factors playing into the vast second-half improvement -- Johan Santana finally becoming a full-time member of the rotation looms large -- but Stewart made enough of an impression that he finished fourth in the AL MVP voting despite relatively modest overall numbers for a left fielder (.823 OPS, 13 HR, 90 R, 73 RBI).
--Nick Nelson, Twins Daily