The Twins flurry of late July and early August trades netted a group of minor league prospects and a 31-year-old journeyman in the last year of his contract (Logan Forsythe) leaving little short term payoff for the team or its fans. The one exception is Tyler Austin.
Acquired from the Yankees in the Lance Lynn deal on July 30, Austin, who turns 27 this month, has clubbed seven homeruns and posted a .977 OPS in 64 plate appearances since his call-up from Rochester on August 11. Since the veteran Lynn is finishing up a one-year deal in New York, this trade could be a rare, long term win over the hated Yankees.
With Joe Mauer’s future uncertain and a seemingly permanent lack of a true DH, Austin is auditioning for a big role with the 2019 Twins. I chatted with the confident slugger during the Oakland series last week.
DZ: Well, you’ve been here roughly, in Minnesota, with the Twins about two weeks or so now. What’s it been like so far?
AUSTIN: It’s been awesome, man. I’m having a good time here. I’ve got a really, really good team here, a really talented team and I’m excited to be a part of it.
DZ: When you were traded from the Yankees to (the Twins), were you surprised?
AUSTIN: Yeah. I mean, I didn’t know what was going on. They took me out of the game…The RailRiders (Yankees Triple A affiliate) were actually in Rochester playing (the Red Wings), so they took me out of the game, and (Yankees GM Brian) Cashman called me up…and told me that I’d been traded here. Yeah, I was a little bit surprised, but like I said, I’m excited to be here.
DZ: Do you look at this with a little bit more of an opportunity, maybe, than you would get in New York?
AUSTIN: I think, I wouldn’t say — I don’t know. I’m just excited for the opportunity. I don’t know if there’s more opportunity, but like I said, I’m just excited for the opportunity to be here with this team because like I said, we have a really, really good group of guys in this clubhouse.
DZ: You’ve got Joe Mauer playing first base. Have you picked his brain at all?
AUSTIN: You know, we’ve talked a lot about it, a lot since I’ve been here, and getting a chance to watch him go about his business and the way he does things day in and day out, man, it truly is an honor to get to share the field with him.
DZ: When you play in New York versus a place like this, how different is it?
AUSTIN: It’s the same game. I wouldn’t say it’s much different. Yeah, it’s baseball.
DZ: Even off the field, media and everything?
AUSTIN: No, I mean, there’s more people in the clubhouse, way more media in the clubhouse compared to here, but yeah, it’s the same game.
DZ: Cool. One last thing, I read that you were a cancer survivor (Austin had testicular cancer at age 17)…How did that change your outlook?
AUSTIN: I don’t take anything for granted. It was a scary situation in my life, scariest thing in my life. A lot better now, and it just makes me appreciate the little things even more.
DZ: Do you still have regular check-ups?
AUSTIN: I’m done with all that. It’s been 10 years, so I’m done for the time being. It was the craziest time in my life, but luckily, we made it through.
See more of David Zingler’s 2018 player interviews:
August 28: Oliver Drake
August 25: Trevor May
July 26: Lindsay Whalen
June 29: Tanisha Wright
June 8: Logan Morrison
June 4: Mitch Garver
April 17: Brian Dozier
April 15: Ryan LaMarre
April 14: Addison Reed
January 27: Chip Lohmiller