Right-hander Carl Pavano accepted the Twins' offer of arbitration Monday and will return to the team in 2010.
Acquired from Cleveland in early August last season, Pavano made 12 starts for the Twins, going 5-4 with a 4.64 ERA in 73.2 innings. He won some important games for the Twins down the stretch, including the final regular season game against Kansas City, in which he pitched on three days rest.
In total for 2009, Pavano threw 199.1 innings, finished with a 14-12 record with a high 5.10 ERA, ruined in essence from some very ugly starts early in the season. Especially active against AL Central Division opponents, Pavano made 18 intra-divisional starts last season, finished with a 10-6 record with a 4.34 ERA in 118.2 innings. Against the Detroit Tigers alone, Pavano was 4-1 in 2009.
His performance in 2009 was somewhat of a surprise, given his much-publicized struggles in four seasons in New York. After signing a lucrative four-year deal with the Yankees, Pavano made just 26 starts, won nine games, and missed significant time due to injury. Rebounding with an almost 200-inning performance in 2009 certainly made him a marketable free agent.
Pavano was angling for a multiple-year deal, but instead elected to return to the Twins, confident the team has a good chance to win in 2010 and also comfortable in the clubhouse.
The move is good for the Twins for a number of reasons. First, it solidifies the top four rotation spots for 2010. Pavano will be a #4 starter behind Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, and Kevin Slowey. Secondly, as the Star Tribune article points out, it opens the door for a trade of malcontented lefty Glen Perkins out of the organization. Perkins has much potential, but he drove the Twins' management and coaching staff crazy with his antics last season, even filing a grievance late in the season over service time. His subtraction will be a plus for the Twins. Thirdly, it gives the Twins a veteran starter at a reasonable price for 2010. Pavano looks to make $7-9M through arbitration, and the Twins will be able to have an affordable presence in the rotation with which they are familiar.
One positive or negative is that it creates a logjam of candidates for the fifth starter position, which will pit Anthony Swarzak, Brian Duensing, Francisco Liriano, Jeff Manship, and Boof Bonser against each other. If nothing else, it gives the Twins some trade options for those who may not stick with the big club next spring.
Having Pavano back in the mix makes sense for the Twins and should pay dividends next season. Provided he stays healthy again, he'll give the Twins a serviceable veteran starter at an affordable price who can eat innings and win some ballgames against divisional opponents.
BP Verdict: Good move by Bill Smith.