Twins have no plans to trade reliable Santana

Veteran right-hander threw second complete game in July vs. Braves

Twins have no plans to trade reliable Santana

MINNEAPOLIS -- Before Tuesday's game against the Braves, Twins interim general manager Rob Antony was asked again about the likeliness of trading 12-year big league veteran Ervin Santana before Monday's non-waiver Trade Deadline.

Antony reiterated he's not interested in trading the right-hander -- saying he's not calling any teams to try to move him -- because he believes the Twins can return to competitive baseball next year and sees Santana as a long-term rotation piece. Just a few hours after Antony's comments, Santana proved why the Twins value him so highly, as he turned in his second complete game this month, needing only 97 pitches. But the offense went 0-for-11 with runners in scoring position to hand Santana a hard-luck loss in a 2-0 defeat to Atlanta at Target Field.

Santana, who gave up two runs on seven hits against his former team, said he hasn't been thinking about the possibility of being traded, but was happy to hear Antony will have to be wowed by an offer for him to be dealt.

"It feels great," Santana said. "But I don't really know [what's going on]. I'm not reading the papers or anything like that. I'm just coming here every day and doing my thing. That's it."

Santana, 33, is owed a combined $27 million over the next two years, and the Twins have a $14 million club option for 2019. Minnesota is in need of quality starting pitching, so manager Paul Molitor hopes the organization decides to keep Santana, even if the decision is ultimately out of his hands.

"When you look at our starting pitching and the consistency he shows, it's a valuable asset to have," Molitor said. "It's not my area, and they're going to do what's right, but I think to have him around here for us would be a good thing if it works out that way."

Santana has been the club's most consistent starter this year, and has been in the midst of an impressive stretch. The right-hander has a 2.02 ERA over his last seven starts, lowering his season ERA from 5.10 to 3.78. He's completed two of his last four outings, becoming the first Twins pitcher to register at least two complete games in a season since Carl Pavano in 2011.

"I feel great," Santana said. "Everything has been working just like I want it. I just have to keep it up. I have to erase this game tonight and get them next time."

The key against the Braves was inducing early contact, which helped him keep his pitch count down. Santana even asked Molitor if he could go back out for the 10th if the Twins tied it up in the ninth -- and would've been granted that chance -- but Minnesota went down quietly in the final inning.

"He wanted to go one more," Molitor said. "He was strong. He was economical and very efficient."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.