Earlier today, the Twins signed 28-year old right-hander Mike Pelfrey as another option for the starting rotation. Pelfrey will turn 29 in January, underwent Tommy John surgery in May of 2012, and was non-tendered by the Mets in November.
Pelfrey's history with the Mets seems to be littered with disappointment and unmet expectations after being drafted ninth overall by New York in 2005. He was considered to be pretty polished and a pitcher who would move swiftly through the system, which he did by making his debut with four starts in the middle of the '06 season. By 2008, at age 24, Pelfrey was a full-time member of the Mets rotation. He averaged 32 starts per year from '08 through '11, posting a respectable 4.27 ERA with suspect peripherals.
Signing with the Twins for one year and $4 million (plus a possible $1.5 million in incentives) might seem like more than you'd expect for a guy coming off of Tommy John surgery, but Scott Baker signed with the Cubs for $5.5 million plus $1.5 million in incentives. At their best Pelfrey's upside can't touch Baker's, so the upshot with the contract is that A) it's only a one-year deal, and B) the Twins rightly paid less for his services than they would have paid for Baker's.
The situation in Minnesota this season is perfect for a pitcher like Pelfrey: guys who want to have the opportunity to pitch, to rebuild some value, and to be able to do those things on a short contract. Pitchers like Manny Parra or Carlos Villanueva might also be similar fits.
Over the weekend the Twins also "lost out" on John Lannan, who signed with the Phillies. While I do think that the rotation's situation in Minnesota plays well for some pitchers, I also think there is an inverse side to these circumstances - primarily that any pitcher who comes to Minnesota understands that they're likely not going to be pitching for a winning team, and that their contract will be so short that they're not likely to stick around to see that winning team.
One result is that a guy like Kevin Correia gets a second year on his contract. Another result is that a guy like Lannan, who may have garnered a similar offer from Minnesota to pitch for the Twins, could choose to take less money for the opportunity to pitch for a winning team. With Correia the Twins overpaid in years if not in dollars; with Lannan, as Terry Ryan said on the MLB Network at the Winter Meetings, the team couldn't give its money away.
Minnesota clearly isn't done looking for pitching help. We already know they'll be watching Brandon Webb pitch after Christmas. I'm also holding out hope that the Twins could get involved with a pitcher like Shaun Marcum, who could help the rotation this season while being young enough to pitch for a young and talented juggernaut a couple years from now.
For now, Pelfrey is scheduled to be ready for spring training and Opening Day. Welcome to Twins Territory, pal. Here's hoping for a good season.