After three seasons of sending Mike Pelfrey to the mound with mixed results, the Twins may get to hit against the right hander instead.
According to a report at cbssports.com, Pelfrey is close to signing a two-year contract with the Detroit Tigers, giving the 31-year-old veteran a chance to face AL Central rival Minnesota several times per season. The New York Post reports that Pelfrey's deal is worth $16 million over two seasons, or roughly the same amount he earned in three seasons with the Twins.
Pelfrey, who signed a one-year contract with the Twins in December 2012, then agreed to a two-year extension the following winter, posted a 4.94 ERA and an 11-27 record in 64 starts for the Twins. He showed occasional flashes of effectiveness, but developed a nagging habit of letting good outings slip away in one-inning meltdowns, and the Twins decided to let him walk away after going 6-11 with a 4.26 ERA in 30 starts last season.
A former first-round draft pick of the New York Mets, Pelfrey came to the Twins less than a year after undergoing elbow ligament reconstruction surgery, and went just 5-13 with a 5.19 ERA in 29 starts. Nerve irritation in his elbow and a groin injury cost him nearly all of the 2014 season, but he rebounded to make 30 starts in 2015.
With several candidates for the rotation returning in 2016, however, the Twins chose not to sign Pelfrey again, and he knew when he packed in October that his Twins career was probably over. "They haven't said anything, and I can count. I know they've got a lot of guys for the rotation." Pelfrey said.
His final two starts for Minnesota were emblematic of the frustration the Twins experienced over Pelfrey's inconsistency. He allowed just one run over five innings in Detroit, leaving with a 4-1 lead, then followed up, in a doubleheader in Cleveland that was critical to the Twins' playoff hopes, by allowing four runs and retiring only five batters.
Three other members of the 2015 Twins roster remain available in free agency, all of them pitchers: right hander Blaine Boyer and left handers Neal Cotts and Brian Duensing.
Pelfrey is the second free-agent starting pitcher to sign with Detroit in the past week, following former Nationals right hander Jordan Zimmermann.