Buchanan deal eases Twins’ outfield logjam

By Jim Callis

July 12, 2002

The Twins have an embarrassment of outfield riches and not enough playing time to go around. Left fielder Jacque Jones is having his best season to date in left field, and Torii Hunter has blossomed into an all-star in center. Bobby Kielty and Dustan Mohr have been such an effective tandem in right that they’ve been able to keep star prospect Michael Cuddyer in Triple-A. All that depth left little need for Brian Buchanan, so on Friday Minnesota traded him to San Diego for minor league shortstop Jason Bartlett. It was the second Padres deal of the day, coming right on the heels of a swap that sent D’Angelo Jimenez to the White Sox.

Buchanan, 28, was a 1994 first-round pick by the Yankees out of the University of Virginia. A gruesome compound fracture of his left ankle in 1995 nearly ended his pro career as it was beginning, but he recovered and was included in the February 1998 Chuck Knoblauch trade with the Twins. He became the third player from that deal to make it to the major leagues in Minnesota, following Eric Milton and Cristian Guzman. Buchanan’s best tools are his power and arm strength, and he’s probably better suited to platoon against lefthanders than to play on an everyday basis. In 143 major league games, he has hit .258-16-55, including .252-5-15 totals in 44 contests in 2002. He spent time on the disabled list with a strained lower back in April. Buchanan will help the Padres replenish their outfield depth after they lost Ray Lankford to a severe hamstring injury.

Bartlett, 22, was a pleasant surprise after the Padres made him a 13th-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma in 2001. He hit just .282 with aluminum as a senior, then batted .300-3-37 with 12 steals in 68 games in his pro debut at short-season Eugene. He has four-tool potential, though he’ll never hit with much power. Bartlett hasn’t been nearly as effective after jumping to high Class A Lake Elsinore in 2002. He hit .250-1-33 in 75 games, and also made 22 errors.