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Twins add infield bat in shortstop Cabrera

Twins add infield bat in shortstop Cabrera

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins have been searching for middle infield help in recent weeks and just hours before the non-waiver Trade Deadline expired on Friday, they got it.

Minnesota added a veteran shortstop to their lineup by acquiring Orlando Cabrera from the A's in exchange for Minor League shortstop Tyler Landendorf. The Twins also received cash considerations in the deal.

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Cabrera, 34, batted .280 with four homers, 41 RBIs and a .318 on-base percentage in 101 games for the A's this season. He's been particularly hot of late, batting .381 since the All-Star break and leading the American League in hits (41) for the month of July.

"We are very excited to get him," Twins general manager Bill Smith said of Cabrera. "It was no secret we talked about him a lot in the past couple of weeks. He brings energy and he's a veteran presence who has been in the playoffs four of the past five years."

For the Twins, it's their first Trade Deadline acquisition since 2003 when the club received Shannon Stewart and a player to be named later from the Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Bobby Kielty.

Cabrera is expected to join the Twins in time for Saturday's contest against the Angels and he'll wear No. 18. The club attempted to try to get him to Minnesota in time for the series opener on Friday night, but the flight schedule did not work out. A roster move will be made after the game to clear room for Cabrera.

"My family and I are really, really thrilled that they would even consider our names to go and play for Minnesota," Cabrera said. "We know it's a great, great baseball city. Hopefully I can help them go to the playoffs and then see what happen after that."

It's the second time in Cabrera's career that he has been traded at the Deadline. In 2004, Cabrera was traded from Montreal to the Red Sox and he helped Boston in its march to a World Series Championship. Coincidentally at the time of that trade, the Red Sox were playing at the Metrodome.

"This is the second time I got traded in the middle of the season and both time I have to fly to Minneapolis," said Cabrera, who batted .294 for the Red Sox following the team. "For some reason, it brings your game to another level. Hopefully everything works out for me in my new team. We all know we will all be focused on one goal and that's to take them to the playoffs."

A two-time Gold Glove winner at shortstop, Cabrera will give the Twins a solid glove up the middle and some offense in a middle infield that's been lacking this season.

Of the two middle infield positions, second base had been the bigger concern. And prior to dealing for Cabrera, the Twins also inquired about second base options -- including Freddy Sanchez who was dealt to the Giants on Wednesday.

"The more ideal thing might have been to get more offense at second base," Smith said. "Nick Punto and Alexi Casilla bring a lot to us, but we just haven't gotten the offensive production out of the position this year. But Cabrera is a good fit for us. I think he's going to bring a lot of things to this club and we were pleased to get him."

The A's and Twins had been in discussions since early last week regarding Cabrera, who signed a one-year, $4 million contract with Oakland during Spring Training.

Some of the Twins players were aware of the club's interest in Cabrera and guys like Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer spoke to the shortstop during a series in Oakland last week about their desire to see him in a Twins uniform.

"Who doesn't like M&Ms?" Cabrera said with a chuckle. "Mauer and Morneau are just amazing -- some of the prime players in the league right now. Those two happen to tell me when they were here that they'd be excited if I joined them. I mean just for me, that's so much respect. I always loved the way they play the game and the way the Twins play baseball, it's like they can beat you in so many ways. That's the kind of baseball that I like."

Cabrera could perhaps help fill the No. 2 spot in the Twins batting order, which has been particularly troublesome for Minnesota this season. Not including the 119 at-bats that Mauer has had in the second spot, the Twins are hitting just .189 there.

The shortstop has experience in the spot, having batted second for the A's in 52 games this season. He batted .305 in the spot with a.346 on-base percentage.

But Twins manager Gardenhire said that he had not made a decision on where to bat Cabrera just yet.

"I'll figure out a place for him," Gardenhire said. "He's a good player. We've played against him long enough to know he can hit, he can steal bases, he can hit behind the runner, and he can bunt. A good hit-and-run guy. He can do a lot of things."

To get Cabrera, the Twins gave up Ladendorf, who was the club's second round pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft. The 21-year-old shortstop prospect batted .410 with a .500 on-base percentage for the rookie league Elizabethton Twins in 17 games this season and, after being promoted, he was batting .233 in 15 games for Class A Beloit.

The Twins thought highly of Ladendorf and it was their "reluctance" to part with him that A's general manager Billy Beane said held up the deal.

"The Twins showed the most desire to acquire [Cabrera] and seemed to have the greatest need," Beane said. "It was an absolute pleasure to have him. If you look at his last month, he was playing great baseball for us with a lot of energy."

In addition to middle infield help, the Twins were also looking for relief help and possibly a starting pitcher heading into the Deadline. Smith said they explored some options, mostly in terms relief, and were making phone calls up until the deadline in an effort to get pitching help.

"We tried hard to add a pitcher," Smith said. "It was a tough market for relievers. ... Everyone was looking at relievers. A lot of conversation but in the end we couldn't get it done.

Although the non-waiver Trade Deadline has passed, the Twins could still explore the market for pitching. Deals can still be made involving players on the 40-man roster, but only if the players have cleared waivers. Smith indicated the Twins will explore their options before Aug. 31, the date when players must be on a roster to be eligible for the postseason.

"We will be very actively perusing those wires every day," Smith said. "And there are going to be a lot of players that will come up."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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