The Minnesota Twins have decided to keep Nick Blackburn around for another four years with the possibility of a fifth season in the deal.

The long-term contract, which comes as a rather pleasant surprise to me, is worth $14 million and includes a club option of $8 million for 2014.  One thing we can say about Blackburn, the guy is consistent.  For the second straight season, he combined double-digit victories with double-digit losses, going 11-11 with a 4.03 ERA in 33 starts last year.  The right-hander led the Twins with 205.2 innings pitched and was second in wins behind Scott Baker, striking out 98 batters and walking 41. 

Blackburn, about to be a proud papa, had this to say about the deal:

"It was a great feeling. A couple of years ago, I didn't really think that would be an opportunity I would get. To get it done and get the security for my wife and I and we have a baby on the way, it's great. It's a big step for us and we couldn't be more excited."

The team has inked 20 other guys to one-year contracts as well, including center fielder Denard Span, right-hander Kevin Slowey and lefty Brian Duensing. This brings every one of the players on this year's 40-man roster under contract.  Next order of business: sign Joe Mauer... sort of a big loose end there.

For those of you concerned with Joe Nathan's surgically-repaired elbow, apparently it's not a big deal.  The closer headed to the cities for an MRI today to get it checked out after he experienced some soreness during the Twins' 9-3 loss to the Boston Red Sox on Saturday.  Let's keep our fingers crossed on that one.

So a few questions for you guys today...

First, what are you thoughts on the Blackburn signing? Second, are you at all worried about Nathan's pitching elbow? Third, Juan Portes!  Okay, that one wasn't a question.

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A sweet Game 163 video montage

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Slowey, Blackburn and four glorious hot dogs