Yesterday marked the deadline for Carl Pavano to decide whether to accept or decline the Twins' arbitration offer, and to my surprise he elected to accept, ensuring that the August acquisition will wear a Twins uniform once again in 2010.
Reports indicate that Pavano and his agent were seeking a multi-year deal from the Twins and other teams, but ultimately didn't get any bites. Rather than running the risk of being forced to settle for another incentive-laden deal with a low base, Pavano decided to make the one-year commitment to the Twins and will likely end up making around $7-$8 million next season.
I say I'm surprised by this outcome because Pavano signed a one-year make good deal last offseason with the Indians, and it seemed to me like he did make good. The historically injury-prone hurler racked up 200 innings without much issue while displaying elite control (his 1.76 BB/9 IP rate ranked second in the AL) and an ability to miss bats (solid 7.2 K/9 IP rate). He even finished his year by putting forth a dazzling performance on the national stage against an offensive powerhouse by holding the Yankees to two runs over seven innings in Game 3 of the ALDS.
My sense was that some pitching-starved club would view these promising signs as meriting a two-year deal, but apparently the past injury problems and the inflated ERA this past season were enough to scare away other general managers.
I have suggested in the past that the Twins bring him back on a two-year, $12 million pact. While such a deal would have likely entailed a lower annual base, retaining Pavano on a one-year commitment is preferable because his historical tendency to get hurt makes any multi-year guarantee a concerning risk.
I concluded about a month ago that "even though Pavano is merely a solid middle-of-the-rotation starter, bringing him back should be a priority." The Twins now have him locked up for next year, and he should be able to combine with Scott Baker, Kevin Slowey and Nick Blackburn to form a very competent 1-through-4 in the rotation. Pavano's relatively high price tag does, however, figure to limit the Twins' financial flexibility over the remainder of the offseason. We'll dig into that predicament later this week.