Rand: Free agents warm up to Minnesota

  • Updated: June 8, 2014 - 11:44 PM

The arrival of quarterback Brett Favre thawed the cold shoulder that prized free agents were giving to the Twin Cities.

Photo: BRIAN PETERSON, Star Tribune file

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

For decades, it seemed as though Minnesota pro sports teams had about as much chance of landing outside free agents as the state did of having 75-degree temperatures in late January.

We had small-to-mid-market teams, often in outdated facilities, playing in a remote, cold outpost (at least in relation to a lot of other flashier markets). If local teams were going to land big-name free agents, they were often going to be aging Minnesotans coming to finish their careers.

In the past five years, though, that has changed. Brett Favre gave the Vikings and their fans a jolt in the summer of 2009. Zach Parise and Ryan Suter did the same for the Wild in 2012. The Wolves signed Kevin Martin a year ago. The Twins grabbed Ricky Nolasco and Phil Hughes this past offseason, then continued the trend Sunday when their signing of slugger Kendrys Morales became official.

While it’s true that not everyone wants to stay here — see Love, Kevin — it is no longer impossible for Minnesota teams to get players to come here. What happened?

– flash enough green, and free agents will pay attention. Some of that has to do with facilities. We can quibble over whether the Twins have spent as much as they can, but they have certainly increased payroll since moving into Target Field in 2010. They simply wouldn’t have thrown four years and $49 million at Nolasco during the Metrodome days, and it’s hard to imagine the Morales move being made back then as well.

Favre was motivated by revenge, but he was also paid handsomely by the Vikings. Martin got a chance, at least for one season, to play for his old coach, Rick Adelman. He also got $28 million over four seasons.

Winning: As mentioned, Favre was motivated by revenge and a nice paycheck. But he also realized he was joining a team that won 10 games and made the playoffs the previous season playing a combination of Tarvaris Jackson and Gus Frerotte. He correctly assessed the roster and figured the Vikings were a quarterback away from being a true contender. Parise and Suter were motivated by the chance to elevate the Wild into a playoff contender, a step the team took this year by advancing to the second round.

Some players actually want to be here: Separately, Parise and Suter had their pick of destinations as premier free agents two summers ago. As a duo, they decided they wanted to be here. Hughes didn’t have any particular lure other than a better pitcher’s ballpark and a chance to start over after being in New York, but he, too, genuinely seems to be enjoying it here.

It adds up to a changing of the guard. Minnesota will never be New York, Los Angeles, Miami or even Chicago. But it’s not the free agent-free outpost it used to be.


  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


New England 2/1/15 5:30 PM
Portland 0 Postponed
Brooklyn 0
Sacramento 0 Postponed
New York 0
Philadelphia 74 FINAL
New Orleans 99
Minnesota 84 FINAL
Oklahoma City 92
Orlando 94 FINAL
Memphis 103
Boston 99 FINAL
Utah 90
Denver 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 102
Army 68 FINAL
American Univ 66
Wright State 64 FINAL
Detroit 53
Syracuse 83 FINAL
North Carolina 93
Cleveland State 56 FINAL
Oakland 59
Delaware State 54 FINAL
NC Central 55
High Point 63 FINAL
Presbyterian 54
Howard 45 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 42
Coppin State 84 FINAL
NC A&T 71
Nicholls 51 FINAL
Northwestern St 80
Hampton 56 FINAL
SC State 65
Gardner-Webb 59 FINAL
Campbell 78
MD-Eastern Shore 72 FINAL
Florida A&M 65
Stephen F Austin 82 FINAL
Lamar 65
Central Arkansas 67 FINAL
New Orleans 87
Norfolk State 70 FINAL
Savannah State 54
SE Louisiana 61
Sam Houston St 80 FINAL
Abilene Christian 63
McNeese State 84 FINAL
Incarnate Word 86
Milwaukee 48 FINAL
Valparaiso 73
Alcorn State 66 FINAL
Alabama A&M 78
Southern U 59 FINAL
Alabama State 63
Prairie View 68 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 105
Texas 86 FINAL
Iowa State 89
Texas Southern 85 FINAL
Miss Valley St 84
Long Island 85 FINAL
Bryant 88
Central Conn St 51 FINAL
St Francis-NY 49
Fairleigh Dickinson 0 Postponed
Sacred Heart 0
St Francis-PA 87 FINAL
Wagner 74
Delaware State 59 FINAL
NC Central 66
Howard 53 FINAL
Bethune-Cookman 61
Coppin State 49 FINAL
NC A&T 67
Hampton 88 FINAL
SC State 53
Norfolk State 54 FINAL
Savannah State 56
MD-Eastern Shore 54 FINAL
Florida A&M 64
Angelo State 55 FINAL
Abilene Christian 70
Samford 32 FINAL
(25) Chattanooga 49
Prairie View 83 FINAL
Ark-Pine Bluff 66
Alcorn State 58 FINAL
Alabama A&M 55
Southern U 53 FINAL
Alabama State 49
Texas Southern 63 FINAL
Miss Valley St 52
(12) Texas A&M 61 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 79
Robert Morris 68 FINAL
Mount St Marys 44
East Tenn St 72 FINAL
Mercer 70
Wofford 56 FINAL
Furman 58
Morehead St 64 FINAL
Tenn Tech 54
Illinois 57 FINAL
Michigan 70
Quinnipiac 0 Postponed
Manhattan 0
Saint Peters 0 Postponed
Rider 0
(18) Miss State 59 FINAL
Auburn 48
(15) Nebraska 72 FINAL
(20) Iowa 78
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: How optimistic are you about the 2015 Twins?

Weekly Question