Twins' search for free-agent pitching isn't over yet

Even after Kevin Correia's deal is finished, the rotation will have plenty of candidates for the final few spots.

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Even after Kevin Correia's deal is finished, the rotation will have plenty of candidates for the final few spots.

Photo: Gene J. Puskar, Associated Press

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Righthander Kevin Correia's signing with the Twins could be announced as soon as Wednesday, with the deal pending a physical. The contract is reportedly for two years and $10 million.

Correia, 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA last season with Pittsburgh, is expected to help stabilize a rotation that was one of the worst in baseball in 2012. He's expected to land in the middle-to-back end of a rotation that remains a work in progress.

Lefthander Scott Diamond, who led the Twins with 12 victories, and righthander Vance Worley, who was acquired last Thursday from Philadelphia, are expected to join Correia in the rotation. Righthander Kyle Gibson is expected to contribute at some point, but the Twins have to plot a course of limited innings for him because he's approaching his first full season since recovering from elbow surgery in 2010.

The Twins remain in the hunt for more starting pitching this offseason. Lefthanders Joe Saunders and John Lannan and righthander Brett Myers are among the free agents in which the Twins have shown interest.

Twins General Manager Terry Ryan would not address the Correia situation Tuesday, but said he hopes the free-agent pitching market heats up over the next two weeks.

"As we approach Christmas, most teams like to know where they sit," Ryan said. "We are starting to approach that area."

Correia, 32, is far from overpowering. He averaged 4.68 strikeouts per nine innings last season, which ranked 45th in the National League. Opponents will put the ball in play against him -- he ranked eighth in the NL with a ground-ball percentage of 51.2. He's known for putting the ball over the plate and trusting his defense.

He's 60-65 in his career with a 4.54 ERA, and is 46-43 over his past four seasons.

The Twins used 12 different starters last season, a group including righthanders Liam Hendriks, Cole De Vries, Samuel Deduno, P.J. Walters, Esmerling Vasquez and Nick Blackburn. The Twins also have told lefthander Brian Duensing and righthander Anthony Swarzak to prepare during the offseason as if they are going to start.

There will be newcomers in camp, such as righthander Trevor May, who came to the Twins with Worley from the Phillies in exchange for Ben Revere; lefthander Pedro Hernandez, who was dealt to the Twins along with infielder Eduardo Escobar from the White Sox in July in exchange for Francisco Liriano; and righthander B.J. Hermsen, one of their better pitching prospects.

Hard-throwing righthander Alex Meyer, who came in a trade with Washington two weeks ago, might be a spring training invite, too.

"We've got numbers." Ryan said. "It's just a matter of who is going to emerge. Some guys will be injured. Some will fall by the wayside. Some won't be ready. But we have to have numbers."

Note

• The Twins signed veteran lefthander Scott Elarton to a minor league contract. Elarton, 36, is 56-61 with a 5.29 ERA in his major league career and last pitched in the big leagues in 2008. Last season with the Phillies' Class AAA Lehigh Valley team, he went 6-11 with a 5.41 ERA in 26 starts.

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