Lance Lynn set to make Twins debut on Tuesday
TAMPA, Fla.—So much for letting Lance Lynn ease into his new surroundings.
Shortly after the veteran right-hander passed his two-day physical exam on Monday, March 12, making official his one-year, $12 million contract, the Twins announced he would make his debut Tuesday, March 13, at home against the Baltimore Orioles.
That will come 2 1/2 hours after the former all-star and two-time pennant winner with the St. Louis Cardinals meets the media in an introductory news conference.
The pitching-starved Orioles reportedly were willing to guarantee Lynn more years and dollars than the Twins, but the chance to join an ascending young team coming off a postseason appearance carried greater appeal to the 30-year-old Lynn.
"Everyone knew the numbers that were out there early, and then we heard the years and dollars start to come back a little bit and we still really weren't in the mix, especially with length," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "I think there was ... a real interest from the player to make this a marriage and I think that helped our cause."
According to a person with direct knowledge, Lynn's contract includes up to $2 million in performance bonuses. He would receive $1 million apiece for reaching 170 and 180 innings this season.
In his five full seasons in the majors, Lynn has averaged 188 2/3 innings, so a normal Lynn season should net him $14 million. His deal also includes Cy Young Award bonuses of $100,000 for a first-place finish, $75,000 for second and $50,000 for third.
"I probably didn't do as much due diligence on this one as I have some other ones because I really wasn't expecting it," Molitor said. "Obviously it built some momentum over the past seven to 10 days. We've got a couple guys in our clubhouse that know him particularly well."
That includes former Cardinals reliever Zach Duke and designated hitter Logan Morrison, the latter of whom stayed sharp while awaiting a contract through workouts at the same Jupiter, Fla., facility as Lynn.
"Very glowing comments about 'teammate, work, takes the ball,' all those kind of things," Molitor said. "Very heavy usage of his fastball. He can move the ball and he has a really good idea how to pitch. It's just an asset for us. Obviously we feel it makes us better."
Outfielder Ryan LaMarre, in Twins camp on a non-roster invitation, was a regular workout partner of Lynn's as well this offseason at Cressey Sports Performance Center.
"Great guy," LaMarre said. "It seems like he's very genuine, very humble and down to earth. I saw him in there every day. When you have guys who are that successful in the game, to see him still hungry and still working out, it was fun. He was very approachable. He joked with you. He's going to do great things here."
With Opening Day in Baltimore a little over two weeks away, Lynn has time to make three Grapefruit League starts as he ramps up in a hurry.
His turn also would fall on March 18 at home against the Philadelphia Phillies, who reportedly showed interest in signing the free agent before opting to sign former Chicago Cubs right-hander Jake Arrieta to a three-year, $75 million deal on Monday.
Lynn's final spring outing likely would come on March 23 at home against the Houston Astros, although he could also stay behind and slip in one last outing against Twins minor leaguers before slotting into the back of the rotation the first time through.
"I'd like to think there's a chance he would be ready to be in the first round of the rotation," Molitor said. "You could see where we could get that extra start by keeping him back here, if everything goes according to plan."
The immediate plan is for Lynn to throw three innings and roughly 50 pitches against the Orioles on Tuesday.
"We'll probably be a little conservative," Molitor said. "Even as a veteran, I told him this is different circumstances. If you're not ready to throw 100 pitches when the regular season starts, let's go slowly and do it right rather than try to force the issue just because we're in a little bit of a time box."
Lynn has been throwing bullpens in Jupiter, one exit north of his former spring training home with the Cardinals.
"We'll probably get a feel for where he's at," Molitor said. "He's ready to pitch but we'll have to see how it goes and how fast we can build him up. He's been throwing, but it's a lot different than being in camp."