Twins trade Lawton to Mets for Reed
Updated: Wednesday August 01, 2001 1:32 AM
The Twins have spent much of the season at or near the top of the AL Central despite baseball's lowest Opening Day payroll at $24.35 million.
But Minnesota has struggled since the All-Star break, going from five games up to a half-game behind Cleveland in the AL Central.
"We're looking to stabilize our pitching staff," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "We've struggled since the break. We felt like Reed was the best available. If you're going to get pitching of his caliber you have to give up something."
Reed adds a veteran presence for the young team down the stretch. Reed, who turns 36 on Aug. 16, was 8-6 with a 3.48 ERA for the Mets this season.
"He's savvy, he throws strikes, he's a veteran," Ryan said. "He's been through the postseason and the World Series."
Reed goes from fourth place with the Mets to the pennant race with the Twins.
"I'm a little numb to be honest. I was able to do it last year and the year before," he said of the pennant race. "It is exciting to get back in one."
The defending NL champion Mets have the worst offense in the majors. They trail Atlanta by 11 1/2 games in the NL East and are eighth in the wild card race and have begun preparing for next season.
"I think we have had enough pitching to keep us in the game but not nearly the offense," GM Steve Phillips said. "We need to address that. I understand the importance of pitching to winning, but if we don't score runs at a pace that allows the pitching to be rewarded, it doesn't matter."
The biggest problem for the Mets has been production in the outfield. Mets outfielders are last in the majors with 22 homers and 121 RBIs.
Phillips has been interested in Lawton since before the 2000 season and this deal developed the day before baseball's trade deadline.
"I'm not familiar with what's going on in New York," Lawton said of the Mets' struggles. "I was there for the World Series last year and saw how good the atmosphere is. It's a great place to play."
Lawton -- whose brother, Marcus, spent four years in the Mets' minor league system -- was hitting .293 with 10 homers and 51 RBIs for the Twins.
Lawton has a .396 on-base percentage -- higher than any Mets regular -- and his 19 steals would also lead New York. He is expected to play right field and lead off for the Mets.
Reed, a two-time All-Star, signed a $21.75 million, three-year contract in the offseason and will be the second-highest paid player on the Twins. Radke makes $7.75 million a year.
Lawton, 29, making $3.9 million this season, is eligible for free agency after the 2002 season.
"We hope Matt will be the start of the process to generate offense and add more excitement at the top of our lineup," Phillips said.