A week after exchanging contract proposals and roughly 10 days before a panel of arbitrators might have to choose one, Trevor Plouffe became the last unsigned player among the Twins’ six eligible veterans Friday when righthanded reliever Kevin Jepsen agreed to a one-year contract for 2016.
“We’re still talking, which is a good sign,” General Manager Terry Ryan said of Plouffe. “We’re hopeful of getting something done, but there was a sizable gap between the numbers.”
Plouffe asked for a $7.95 million salary after hitting 22 home runs with 86 RBI, while the Twins offered $7 million. Arbitration hearings, which the Twins have avoided since 2006, will take place in early February.
The gap was much smaller for Jepsen, who saved 10 games in his two months with the Twins after being acquired from Tampa Bay last year. He agreed to a contract worth $5,312,500, a 77 percent raise over his $3 million salary last season. Jepsen had sought $5.4 million, and the Twins originally offered $5.05 million.
Jepsen joins Eduardo Escobar, Eduardo Nunez, Casey Fien and Tommy Milone as Twins players who signed for 2016 without going to arbitration.
Glen Perkins doesn’t know Michael Strong. But both lefthanded relief pitchers attended Stillwater High School, albeit five years apart, and Friday, they became potential teammates when the Twins claimed Strong, who has yet to appear in the majors, off waivers from Miami.
“He happens to be a Minnesotan, but that’s a coincidence,” Ryan said. “We saw him quite a bit in the Southern League this year, and we liked his potential.”
The 27-year-old Afton native was drafted by Milwaukee out of Oklahoma State in the 10th round of the 2011 draft. Strong owns a 3.61 career ERA in the minors, and after posting a 2.54 ERA at Class AA Biloxi last year he was promoted to Class AAA Colorado Springs. Things didn’t go as well in the high altitude there, however, with his ERA ballooning to 7.16.
“That’s a tough adjustment to make right away, so I’m not worried about how he did [at Colorado Springs],” Ryan said.
The Twins designated lefthander Logan Darnell for assignment after a season in which he posted a 2.78 ERA in 35 games at Class AAA Rochester. A sixth-round pick in 2010, the 26-year-old Darnell appeared in seven major league games in 2014, going 0-2 with a 7.12 ERA.
Carew at TwinsFest
Rod Carew has recovered enough from a major heart attack in September to attend TwinsFest next week, the Twins announced.
The 70-year-old Hall of Fame infielder, who is awaiting a heart transplant, will help the Twins announce a 2016 initiative at a news conference Saturday, and will take part in a question-and-answer session with fans Sunday.
In addition, fans can bid online on two private meet-and-greet sessions with the seven-time American League batting champion.