Continuing their focus on pitch-to-contact starting pitchers, the Minnesota Twins have signed Mike Pelfrey to a one-year contract. Under the terms of the deal, Pelfrey will reportedly receive a base salary of $4 million, as well as performance-based incentives that could bring him up to an additional $1.5 million. He spent most of 2012 on the disabled list after undergoing Tommy John surgery on May 1, and the Mets non-tendered him after the end of the season. Pelfrey has indicated a belief that he will be ready to assume a normal workload by the start of spring training, but Tommy John surgery typically requires approximately 12 months before a pitcher is able to assume a normal workload, and approximately six more months before his command and control return to pre-injury levels. As such, the Twins are assuming a certain amount of medical risk with this signing.
The Pelfrey move should be of interest to Pirates fans for two reasons. First, reports had been published earlier this month indicating that the Pirates were interested in Pelfrey as a possible signing. This signing necessarily obviates that possibility. Second, Pelfrey's price point of $4M plus incentives makes him another interesting point of comparison for the recently non-tendered Jeff Karstens. Had Karstens been retained, projections indicated that he would have likely received an arbitration award around $3.8 million, and like Pelfrey under his new deal, Karstens would have been under contract for only 2013 - a relevant consideration, in light of Huntington's revelation over the weekend that years of control were a factor in the decision to retain Charlie Morton while cutting Karstens loose. We won't know the final results of that decision until the end of the year, but at this point it seems increasingly unlikely that the Pirates will be able to acquire a Karstens-caliber starter at an equivalent or lower cost.