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Twins ink LoMo to one-year contract

Slugger will serve as club's DH, but also spell Mauer at first
MLB.com @RhettBollinger

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Logan Morrison arrived to a makeshift news conference in the media dining room at Hammond Stadium on Wednesday, he joked that J.D. Martinez likely had a similar setup when he signed with the Red Sox this spring.

Morrison was refreshingly candid and upbeat as he officially signed with the Twins on Wednesday. It's a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with escalators and an option that vests at 600 plate appearances that could make it worth $16.5 million over two years. There's also a $1 million buyout included in his contract.

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FORT MYERS, Fla. -- As Logan Morrison arrived to a makeshift news conference in the media dining room at Hammond Stadium on Wednesday, he joked that J.D. Martinez likely had a similar setup when he signed with the Red Sox this spring.

Morrison was refreshingly candid and upbeat as he officially signed with the Twins on Wednesday. It's a one-year deal worth $5.5 million with escalators and an option that vests at 600 plate appearances that could make it worth $16.5 million over two years. There's also a $1 million buyout included in his contract.

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Morrison explained how he liked how honest the front office was in their surprising pursuit of him and he wanted to join a contending team.

"I was able to establish a relationship with them and feel wanted," said Morrison, who turned down other offers. "A lot of times it's not what is offered, it's how it's offered. They definitely do a good job of that. The other thing was I think the Twins are going to be really good this year, especially with me in the lineup."

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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'll be the club's primary designated hitter while seeing time at first base when Joe Mauer needs a rest or serves as DH.

The pursuit started to ramp up after the Twins acquired Jake Odorizzi in a trade with the Rays on Feb. 17, and Odorizzi was one of several people in the organization who vouched for Morrison in their recruitment of him. The front office interviewed Morrison, asking him tough questions about his personality and how it's changed over the years and why he thought he had such a big year in 2017.

"Logan would be the first to tell you he's made some adjustments," Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said. "Sometimes you see a spike in a guy's season and think it may have come out of nowhere and you're not sure exactly why. Logan can articulate the things he did and felt he made adjustments to allow him to tap into the power he has always had."

Morrison credited his maturity as a person for his improvement at the plate, saying being a dad has helped him put things in perspective and not dwell on results. But he also bought into the launch angle movement, changing his swing to get better results. He increased 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 2017 than he did in '16.

"You look at film and see how they do it and then try to apply that," Morrison said. "But to find the feel that you want is the main thing that a hitter looks for and being able to find that feel consistently last year will do nothing but help me this year."

Morrison also had fun at the news conference, sharing his nicknames for his new teammates, referring to Odorizzi as "AWR. Average White Righty with a great dad bod," and his ex-Mariners teammate Fernando Rodney as "Hot Rod." He even had one for Twins manager Paul Molitor, calling him, "Paulie 3K," even though he's yet to meet Molitor because Molitor was across the state at the club's split-squad game against the Astros.

"We've always prioritized the culture," Falvey said. "Logan had some years early on where he was probably a bit more outspoken than maybe he wishes he was. But he's learned a lot, grown up a great deal. We did a ton of makeup work with respect to the Rays last year --- guys we knew in that clubhouse. We found out a lot about the person and how much he cares about winning, he cares about having fun, he cares about his teammates."

With Morrison in the fold, it doesn't bode well for first baseman Kennys Vargas and outfielder Robbie Grossman, who were expected to split DH duties. With Morrison expected to be an everyday player, the Twins could decide to go with athletic outfielder Zack Granite as their final bench player instead of Grossman or Vargas.

"Those things we will have to address," Falvey said. "The fortunate part is that we don't have to write out the 25-man until the end of the month. We'll see where it goes. To have all of those fits, it's a challenge."

Falvey added the Twins are likely done after signing Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Michael Pineda, Rodney and Morrison as well as trading for Odorizzi. There are several pitchers remaining in free agency such as Lance Lynn, Jake Arrieta and Alex Cobb, but the Twins appear content with their current roster.

"I think there is a high likelihood this is the group here," Falvey said. "I can't credit [owner] Jim Pohlad enough for his support."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.

Minnesota Twins, Logan Morrison