It's official. Carl Pavano has accepted the Twins' offer of arbitration, meaning he will be with the Twins for at least one more season. The Twins and Pavano may try to continue working on a two-year contract, but it's more likely that Pavano will be go in with the Twins next season before testing the market again next winter. Pavano must not have been able to generate much interest of a multi-year deal from other teams, which is the most likely reasoning for accepting the offer.
The Twins already had a plethora of arms that will be competing for the last spot in the rotation (and the bullpen), but this is great news. Right now, Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn and Pavano are locks for the rotation. Kevin Slowey will be a lock if he returns healthy, which nothing up to this point has made me think otherwise. That means that the Twins could have up to six in-house players competing for the last spot in the rotation.
Glen Perkins and Brian Duensing are both vying for the last spot in the rotation, but I wouldn't be surprised to see Perkins traded at some point during the off-season. The bullpen is already packed, and Perkins might not be in Minnesota's long-term plans, which could give the Twins an incentive to trade him. That would leave Duensing as the odds-on-favorite to claim the fifth spot in the rotation. I'd be fine with that, but I'd still like to see the Twins sign a low risk, high reward starter. I also expect to see Boof Bonser non-tendered, which should help give a better assessment as to where the rotation/bullpen stand heading into next season.
At this time, the Twins can at least move their attention strictly to improving second base or third base (of course, besides re-signing Joe Mauer). There are plenty of options available and the Twins should be able to find the deal they want. I'd personally like to see the Twins sign either Felipe Lopez or Orlando Hudson, leaving third base to Nick Punto. In that scenario, Punto would be holding down third base until the Twins deem Danny Valencia ready. And it'd also fulfill my dream (ok, hope) of also signing Joe Crede (or perhaps Adrian Beltre or Pedro Feliz) to a one-year contract at some point (probably a month or so) before Spring Training, thus relegating Punto to the bench.
But we'll just take it one step at a time...
6:00 PM: Neal is now reporting that Pavano will in fact accept arbitration from the Twins.
1:00 PM: According to Ken Rosenthal of FoxSports.com, it appears more and more likely that Twins starter Carl Pavano will accept arbitration, keeping him in Minnesota for at least one more season (thoughts below).
11:00 AM: La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported that Twins General Manager Bill Smith and Pavano's agent, Tom O'Connell, last night and have until 11 PM tonight to decide whether or not to accept the Twins' offer of arbitration. Pavano's camp wants at least a two-year deal and at this moment, it doesn't seem like there's any team willing to give that to him.
As I've said in the past, Pavano alone likely won't give the Twins a great rotation, but he'll definitely add some stability. At this point, only Scott Baker and Nick Blackburn are set as "locks" for next year's rotation. Both Kevin Slowey and Brian Duensing will also have good opportunities in Spring Training to claim a spot, but hopefully the Twins can find at least one or two additional pickups to fill out the starting five. Slowey will be returning from wrist surgery, but should be ready to go, likely making him another "lock."
If Pavano is one of them, I'd still like to see the team go after guys like Erik Bedard, Ben Sheets or Rich Harden. The three of them (among others) are looking to prove themselves and are likely be receiving one or two year contracts, which is just what the Twins need.
Stay tuned. We'll find out sometime today/tonight what Pavano's decision is.