FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins have tried in past seasons to sign Jose Berrios to a long-term deal without any luck, and the righthander has moved on, looking to improve each year and increase his value.
While a Twins source on Friday said the sides have not talked since last spring, Berrios indicated that he has been having discussions with his agents about his future and hopes something can be worked out with the Twins.
Perhaps there will be come clarity in the coming weeks. Clubs often check in with agents, and vice versa, during spring training. This spring could be the setting for the sides to take another shot at a deal.
"Ah, like I don't wake up every morning thinking like that, 'Is that going to happen?' " Berrios said, "but for sure they're going to help me to be more focused on my work. Like the way I am right now."
Berrios, 26, will make $6.1 million in 2021, with one more year of arbitration remaining before he is eligible for free agency following the 2022 season. The two-time All-Star is 48-38 with a 4.19 ERA in five seasons with the Twins, including a 5-4 record and 4.00 ERA in the abbreviated 2020 season.
Berrios was 4-1 with a 2.79 ERA over his last seven starts and held Houston to one run over five innings on two hits and two walks in Game 2 of the Twins' wild-card playoff series with the Astros.
"I'm going to take that and use it for my experience and motivation," said Berrios, who will throw in the bullpen on Saturday. "You said it: My last few starts and also in the postseason were feeling great for me. I was doing well. So I wanted to keep building on that."
Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson watched as Kenta Maeda threw off a mound Thursday and liked what he saw. Maeda's pitches looked sharp and he looked ready to back up his 2020 season, in which the Japanese righthander finished second to Cleveland's Shane Bieber in American League Cy Young Award voting.
Johnson believes some adjustments might help Maeda add to his four-seam fastball.
"We even worked on it a little yesterday," Johnson said, "we're trying to get a little more carry on his four-seam. If that equates to more velocity obviously we're excited.
"But Kenta, I was giving him a hard time yesterday, he looks good. He's been in the weight room. His legs are a little bit thicker. If it equates to velocity awesome. We're really shooting for carry. We'll see though. Yesterday he looked good."
Maeda, acquired last February from the Dodgers, was 6-1 with a 2.70 ERA in 11 starts in his first season with the Twins, and all eyes will be on him to see what he can do for an encore.
"I think the biggest thing for me — and we talked a little bit about it yesterday — I don't want Kenta to think he has got to be Superman," Johnson said. "I want him to go out and do what he does. I don't want him to change and try to be better than he is. One of the great things Kenta did last year was he went pitch to pitch, which it's a cliché, right? But it was 'Throw a pitch. All right I'm moving to the next one no matter what.'
"The challenge you have with anybody who has as much success as he had last year — there's guys who have to deal with failure but then there's guys who have to learn how to deal with success."
Shoemaker officially in fold
The Twins made the signing of righthander Matt Shoemaker official on Friday. The veteran will earn $2 million in 2021.
To make room for Shoemaker on the 40-man roster, the Twins outrighted righthander Ian Gibaut, who made 14 relief appearances with Texas last season. Gibaut then cleared waivers and will remain in camp as a nonroster invitee. So the 40-man roster is full and there are 20 nonroster invitees.
With 14 players in the depth camp, the Twins have 74 players in Fort Myers, one short of the limit.