ORLANDO – Mike Pelfrey said repeatedly last summer that he hopes to remain in Minnesota. But the free-agent pitcher’s agent made it clear Wednesday that the Twins have competition for the righthander.
“There’s a possibility [he] could” sign a new contract with the Twins, agent Scott Boras said. But “we’ve gotten pretty good interest in him from a variety of teams.”
Pelfrey went 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA last season with the Twins, his first season back from ligament-replacement surgery in his right elbow. But he improved as the season went along, Boras pointed out, posting a 3.45 ERA in July and August before finishing with a bad September.
“His velocity was in the mid-90s late in the season. He beat some big teams in Detroit and Texas [actually only Detroit, though Pelfrey pitched well in a 2-1 loss to Texas], and I think he started to show a lot of the Mike Pelfrey of old,” Boras said. “Mike has interest from some other teams.”
Pelfrey, 28, earned $4 million on a one-year contract with the Twins, but his next contract figures to be longer. “He’s been offered” multiyear contracts, Boras said, and the Tommy John surgery is no longer an issue. “The industry is very familiar with players coming off Tommy John [surgery]. He threw 150 innings without consequence. I don’t think anybody is questioning what a player who had Tommy John at 28 could do later on in his career.”
Ryan said he met with Boras this week, but the talks weren’t limited to Pelfrey, about whom he said only, “It was a good thing that Mike was healthy all year.” Boras also represents free agents such as Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Kendrys Morales.
The Twins collected plenty of information about other teams and free agents this week, Ryan said. “By this time, you’ve got an awful good feeling, a decent idea” of what’s possible in trades and acquisitions, he said. “Now you go to work.”
Behind Mauer’s deal
The Twins and Joe Mauer were more than $150 million apart when they began negotiating his current eight-year contract during the winter of 2009-10, Mauer’s agent says in an upcoming book.
Armed with research that showed Mauer could reasonably seek a 10-year, $300 million contract if he became a free agent, Ron Shapiro initially asked the Twins for a nine-year deal for his client worth $27 million a year, or $243 million in total, the agent says in “Perfecting Your Pitch,” a how-to-negotiate book to be released Nov. 29.
Bill Smith, the Twins’ general manager at the time, countered with an offer of $90 over five years, or $16 million per season, Shapiro writes in his book, according to an article on Forbes.com. Mauer told Shapiro he preferred to sign with the Twins rather than become a free agent, and on March 21, 2010, the sides signed his current eight-year, $184 million contract that pays him $23 million per year through the 2018 season.
• Ryan declined to say whether the Twins will offer arbitration to their three eligible players — Brian Duensing (who earned $1.3 million in 2013), Trevor Plouffe ($520,000), and Anthony Swarzak ($502,500) — before the Dec. 2 deadline. Each would likely be in line to roughly double his salary if he went to arbitration; they would become free agents if the Twins choose not to tender them contracts.
• Twins owner Jim Pohlad, in Orlando to take part in quarterly owners’ meeting, said the team’s policy of devoting between 50-52 percent of revenue to its payroll hasn’t changed, even though the $82 million the team spent this year was the lowest level in its four Target Field seasons. “The [guideline] hasn’t changed, but you’re not going to just throw money in the air,” Pohlad said. “That’s our rule of thumb, but just as it can go [below that level] depending upon circumstances, it can go the other way, too.”