Lynn jumps right in with competitive Twins

Minnesota introduces right-hander as newest member of rotation

March 13th, 2018

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- It's a good thing Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey didn't turn off his phone.
After trading for right-hander Jake Odorizzi from the Rays on Feb. 17, Falvey said he'd continue to monitor the market and would leave his phone on, but he wasn't expecting to make any more moves. But since then, the Twins signed designated hitter to a one-year deal on Feb. 28, and right-hander joined the Twins on a one-year, $12 million deal, getting officially introduced on Tuesday before his start against the Orioles at Hammond Stadium. Minnesota has become a destination for veteran players looking to win and the Twins capitalized on the unusual free-agent market this year.
"We've been looking for talent, impact and experience as part of that, and capping this offseason for us with Lance Lynn is an incredible opportunity for our team," Falvey said. "Lance is somebody we know fits our clubhouse and our dynamic as a team, when you talk about him as a competitor. This is someone who's going to help lead our pitching staff every time he takes the ball on the mound."

"When I looked at the offseason, I wanted to go somewhere where they had a chance to win, no matter what," Lynn said. "And this is a place that presented itself as the offseason went on. It seemed like a perfect fit, and I'm looking forward to doing what I have to do and taking the ball when it's my turn."
• Twins thrilled to have Lynn on board
Lynn, 30, officially signed his deal on Monday after passing his physical and said he believes he'll be ready for the start of the season, despite signing with a little more than two weeks until Opening Day. He trained in Jupiter, throwing several live bullpen sessions to get ready for his Grapefruit League debut on Tuesday, in which he struck out five Orioles in three hitless innings, walking one. The Twins lost the game, 7-5. Lynn is likely to make two additional Spring Training starts, but he could be held back for a final one on the Minor League side.

"I walked a guy, but outside of that, everything went as smooth as it possibly could," Lynn said with a smile. "After this, I'll be set going forward. To get to three [innings] in my first one was pretty fun. There was a long inning before my last one and it was good to have that and get the body going in the third inning. To get out there and have success right away is good but there's still a lot of work to be done."
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Lynn has been a workhorse throughout his career, ranking among the most consistent Major League starters since he debuted with the Cardinals in 2011. He has made at least 29 starts in each of his five full big league seasons, topped 200 innings twice and compiled a career 3.38 ERA that ranks 14 percent better than the league-adjusted ERA+ over that span. Lynn sat out the 2016 season to recover from Tommy John surgery, but he bounced back to compile a 3.43 ERA over 33 starts -- which tied for the most of any National League pitcher -- for St. Louis last year.
The glacial pace to the free-agent market this season meant that Lynn, one of the more high-profile starters available, had to wait until two weeks before Opening Day to find a team. The veteran says that doesn't concern him now, and he expressed confidence that he'll be ready to roll in the first week of the season.
"The chip on my shoulder has been there since I was born -- that's what my dad says," Lynn joked. "This market hasn't changed that. That's something I use to compete, and it helps drive me."

Strengthening the starting rotation was the Twins' most pressing need entering the offseason, but Minnesota has made a flurry of moves to address it, including trading for Odorizzi. The team also signed veteran in February, but it released him to make room for Lynn on the 40-man roster. The Twins' projected rotation now features Lynn, Odorizzi, and , with possible contributions from Phil Hughes as last year's ace, , works his way back from a surgically repaired middle finger on his right pitching hand.
"Building depth in our rotation was a goal and I think we've been able to do that with flying colors," said manager Paul Molitor. "It certainly makes us stronger that we're going to open the season with a rotation from top to bottom. There's a certain grittiness in the way Lance does things that I hope permeates through our clubhouse. We're not gonna ask him to change anything about who he is."

Lynn, though, showed off his sense of humor during the press conference, making quips about Morrison's propensity to be loud, his excitement about leaving the NL after a career .085 batting average and calling his mentors, such as , Chris Carpenter, Jake Westbrook and , "elderly." But while he ribbed Morrison, Lynn said the lefty slugger played a role in his decision to sign with Minnesota.
"He tells you the truth," Lynn said. "I got his opinion and Zach Duke. They're both guys I think highly of as people and players, so it made for a pretty easy choice."