FORT MYERS, Fla. -- The Twins are surprisingly set to add a left-handed power bat, as they agreed to terms with slugger Logan Morrison on a one-year deal worth $6.5 million with escalators and a vesting option that could make it worth $16.5 million over two years, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Sunday.
The club, however, has not confirmed the news, as Morrison must pass his physical. The Twins had an open roster spot after losing reliever J.T. Chargois on waivers to the Dodgers.
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"There's a lot out there and people are talking, but if it happens, we have things to take care of to make it official," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "That's all I can say."
Morrison, 30, is coming off a breakout year that saw him hit .246/.353/.516 with 38 homers, 22 doubles and 85 RBIs in 149 games with the Rays last year. He figures to see most of his time at designated hitter, as Joe Mauer remains Minnesota's starting first baseman. It hurts Kennys Vargas' chance of making the roster, as Morrison is now the backup to Mauer and likely the primary designated hitter. Vargas is out of options and can't be sent to the Minors without clearing waivers.
"I've heard a lot of good things about him," said Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson. "Everybody knows he can hit. We're excited to have anybody like that with that kind of power in our locker room for sure."
The Twins have a lineup that leans left-handed with Mauer, Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler and Jason Castro hitting from the left side along with switch-hitters such as Jorge Polanco, Eduardo Escobar, Robbie Grossman, Ehire Adrianza and Vargas. But the Twins couldn't pass up on the opportunity to add such a productive bat to the lineup.
Morrison also adds insurance for the Twins in case Miguel Sano misses time with his surgically-repaired shin or is suspended for his alleged sexual assault. Sano will be eased into Spring Training games as he works on his conditioning. Escobar remains Sano's primary backup at third.
Morrison is a career .245/.330/.433 hitter with 122 homers, 148 doubles and 382 RBIs in 864 games with the Marlins, Mariners and Rays. His career high in homers before last season was 23, set in '11 with the Marlins.
Morrison benefitted by changing his swing mechanics to get the ball in the air more, increasing his launch angle from 12.1 degrees in 2016 to 17.4 degrees last year, per Statcast™. His average exit velocity actually decreased from 90.3 mph to 88.5 mph, but he hit 24 more homers in '17 than he did in '16.
Morrison remains outspoken but has matured since his time with the Marlins, when he had a strong presence on social media early in his career. He was teammates with Twins right-hander Jake Odorizzi the last two seasons in Tampa Bay and also played under current Twins bench coach Derek Shelton, who was his hitting coach with the Rays in 2016.
"I've heard good things," said reliever Addison Reed. "He's a good player. I can't believe it took this long for him to sign with a team, but I'm glad he's on our side. It's looking good. Last year, they surprised a bunch of people, and in this offseason they did nothing but add pieces. Nobody is gone and the only thing is we added pieces. This team got better, and it's going to be an exciting season."
Morrison is the sixth free agent the Twins have signed to a Major League deal this offseason, as he joins pitchers Fernando Rodney, Zach Duke, Anibal Sanchez, Michael Pineda and Reed. They also traded for Odorizzi last week. There remains a chance the Twins could add another starter via free agency, but even if they don't, the players like how aggressive the front office has been to improve the team.
"There's definitely guys available," Gibson said. "We know we're ready to make the next step. Any time you can add pieces like that for upgrades, you're creating more competition. Because if he's at DH, it means someone else doesn't hit. So it's only making us a deeper and better team."
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Morrison had never hit more than 23 long balls in a single season entering 2017 and will be hard-pressed to go deep 38 times for a second straight campaign, but he could top the 30-homer mark in '18 by repeating his career-best fly-ball (46.2 percent) and hard-contact (37.4 percent) rates from a year ago. The 30-year-old should be a prime target for standard-mixed league owners looking for some pop in the later rounds on draft day.