SAN DIEGO – The Twins on Tuesday officially announced the signings of Michael Pineda and Alex Avila.
Pineda is scheduled to earn $20 million over the next two seasons, although that will be reduced to about $17.6 million after he serves the final 39 games of the 60-game suspension Major League Baseball handed him in September for using a banned substance. Pineda, who said he took something to help him lose weight, was 11-5 with a 4.01 ERA in 17 starts with the Twins in 2019 before being suspended.
The Twins believe Pineda can be the same pitcher he was before his season took a wrong turn and made him ineligible for the postseason.
“It just felt like a really unfortunate set of circumstances,” said Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey. “He’s learned from it. I think he recognizes that if he could do it all over again, he’d do it very differently, right?”
A key factor in the Twins’ willingness to bring him back was that Pineda successfully proved he took the medication for weight loss and had the suspension reduced 20 games.
As for Avila, the Twins needed a backup catcher who hit lefthanded, was strong on defense and could help mentor a developing Mitch Garver.
“We think that he has gotten rave reviews in our reference checking from his few past ports of call of working with younger catchers in being a little bit of a mentor and sharing his learnings that he’s had throughout the course of his career,” Twins General Manager Thad Levine said. “I think that really resonated with us as we’ve got Mitch who is just learning the craft.”
Avila will make $4.5 million on the one-year deal. He has spent the past two seasons with the Diamondbacks and hit .207 in 2019 with nine home runs and 24 RBI in 63 games.
Garver batted .273 with 31 home runs and 67 RBI in 93 games this year and is expected to receive the bulk of the work behind the plate.
The Twins spent Tuesday in discussions with teams and agents about starting pitching, bullpen help and possible position player additions. There were no indications that they were close on anything.
One day after the Nationals got Stephen Strasburg to agree to a seven-year, $245 million contract, the only noteworthy announcement Tuesday was shortstop Didi Gregorius going to Philadelphia to play for new manager Joe Girardi, his old skipper with the Yankees.
The lobby at the Manchester Grand Hyatt was full of folks wondering when righthander Gerrit Cole is going to agree to a landmark deal, and with which team.
LA VELLE E. NEAL III