From all we hear, Carl Pavano now has to choose between two teams -- the Twins and Washington.

The hang-up is supposed to be that Pavano wants a three-year deal and teams are unwilling to go beyond two for a pitcher who will turn 35 in January and -- as much as Twins fans cherish the 17 victories in 2010 and his veteran presence -- still has a four-year black hole in his career from the Yankees contract.  Any general manager who ignores that 145 innings-for-$39 million bust, regardless of what's happened since, is not exercising reasonable caution.

The solution is pretty obvious, a two-year deal with some kind of option for 2013.

So the question becomes whether Pavano wants the challenge of helping the Twins get beyond their first-round playoff exits or whether he'd rather provide some bright shining moments for the chronically sorry Nationals, where he would be a big name for the interim and likely fade away as their promising youngsters -- Stephen Strasburg, Bryce Harper, Drew Storen -- lead that team to potential competitiveness.

If the Nationals end up offering that much more or the extra year, and Pavano wants to be a big fish in a currently dry creek, the Twins should shrug their shoulders and go into spring training thinking Liriano/Baker/Duensing/Slowey/Blackburn -- with an eye toward picking up a top-of-the-line starter as the season wears on.

If Pavano wants the pressure and excitement of kicking through the door that has slammed in the Twins' faces for the last decade, he'll take the best deal possible from Minnesota, which won't be a bad one. (Management would still have the same challenge to upgrade the rotation with an eye toward October.)

If he continues pitching like he did last season, there would likely be another contract for Pavano down the road.

Does Pavano want to be big -- or does he want the chance to be part of something that could be huge?

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