Righthander Mike Pelfrey has agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract to return to the Twins, according to a person with knowledge of the negotiations. He will become the third starting pitcher the Twins have signed this month.
The deal, according to the source, includes incentives.
It is unclear if the Twins are done signing starting pitchers. They were busy all week at the recently-completed winter meetings in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. speaking with agents for Pelfrey, Matt Garza, Bronson Arroyo, Johan Santana and others. Several sources confirmed their interest in Garza, one of the top remaining free agents.
The Twins had offered Pelfrey a two-year, $10 million deal before increasing it Tuesday night. Scott Boras, Pelfrey’s agent, said on Wednesday that other teams began to call about his client, and it was reported that the Giants and Texas were two of those teams.
Pelfrey was very comfortable in the Twins clubhouse last season and expressed a desire to return every time he was asked about his future. He was popular with players, and at least one Twins player called Pelfrey in recent days, urging him to sign.
The decision to re-sign Pelfrey reflects confidence that he will be more than the 5-13 pitcher he was last season in his first year back after Tommy John elbow surgery. Pelfrey posted a 5.13 ERA but got stronger during the second half of the season, as his fastball began to touch 95 miles an hour.
The Twins paid Pelfrey $4.1 million last season, and they get to see if their investment in Pelfrey, 29, will pay off in 2014. His best season was 2010, when he was 15-9 with a 3.66 ERA. One thing that has challenged him throughout his career is getting a feel for a change-up, but he tried changing speeds late last season and had some success doing it. That will be something Pelfrey will try to build off of with pitching coach Rick Anderson, whom he enjoys working with.
The signing comes on the heels of a four-year, $49 million deal the club signed righthander Ricky Nolasco to and a three-year, $24 million deal the Twins signed righthander Phil Hughes to earlier this month.
In all, the Twins have committed $84 million to starting pitching this month as they address a major need.
Are they done signing pitchers? Twins General Manager Terry Ryan last week indicated that the club could sign two more pitchers. But the offense needs to be addressed as well, so it would be understandable if Ryan decides to focus on who’s standing at the plate rather than who is throwing over it.
And, the Twins hope, there are pitchers in the rotation who can do that more frequently now.