TAMPA, Fla. -- Lance Lynn officially became a Twin on Monday, signing his one-year, $12 million contract after passing a physical, but he comes in already having prior relationships with several of his new teammates.Lynn trained this offseason in Jupiter, working out with several current Twins such as first baseman/DH
TAMPA, Fla. -- Lance Lynn officially became a Twin on Monday, signing his one-year, $12 million contract after passing a physical, but he comes in already having prior relationships with several of his new teammates.
Lynn trained this offseason in Jupiter, working out with several current Twins such as first baseman/DH Logan Morrison, Rule 5 right-hander Tyler Kinley, non-roster outfielder Ryan LaMarre and non-roster reliever Michael Kohn. Lynn was also teammates with lefty Zach Duke on the Cardinals last season, and he's known James Dozier since college, as Lynn faced Dozier several times in Ole Miss-Southern Miss matchups.
Lynn worked closely with Morrison this offseason, including throwing live batting practice to him while they were both free agents. Morrison kept in touch with him throughout the free-agent process and believes they both signed with the Twins on one-year deals because they wanted to play for a winner.
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"Given my choices, it was a no-brainer to come here, and I think once I came here it kind of gave Lance a more clear choice to make," Morrison said. "He wants to win and that's what he's told me this whole time. He told me he was looking for a certain deal but if he didn't get it, he wanted to win, especially if it was just a one-year deal."
Lynn, 30, had other offers, but once he decided he was willing to take a one-year deal, his camp contacted the Twins because he felt it was his best fit to join a club that made the postseason last year and has several players he already knows.
"There was some real interest from the player to make this a marriage and that helped our cause," Twins manager Paul Molitor said. "We have a couple guys in our clubhouse, player-wise, who know him particularly well. A lot of comments about how he's a great teammate and how he works and pitches the ball."
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Minnesota becoming a popular destination for free agents looking to win has resonated in the clubhouse, as the front office has added veterans such as Fernando Rodney, Addison Reed, Duke, Morrison and Lynn via free agency, and all of them pointed to playing for a contender as a reason for signing with the Twins.
"The guys out there definitely wanted a team that's on the upswing with a chance to compete for the playoffs and a championship," Dozier said. "I think it's enticing for a lot of these guys, and it's cool to see. People want to win and be part of a good atmosphere. When you come to a place where you're willing to win and going to win, it brings out the better in yourself."
Lynn had spent his entire six-year career with the Cardinals, posting a career 3.38 ERA in 977 2/3 innings, but he missed the '16 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Lynn returned last year to post a 3.43 ERA in 33 starts with St. Louis, which impressed Duke, who also returned from the same surgery with the Cardinals last season.
"It was really impressive," Duke said. "He took the mound every day. No issues. He's a great teammate and a great competitor. He's as intense on the mound as they come. He's a bulldog. He eats up innings. He gives the team a chance to win every time. He's a great addition."
Lynn was continually referred to as a bulldog and a workhorse by Twins players, as he's averaged 32 starts and 192 innings over his past four seasons. And with Lynn another year removed from Tommy John surgery, he's a candidate to reach 200 innings for the third time in his career.
"It's definitely what we needed," Morrison said. "Our bullpen is good, but with him in the starting rotation, it's even better. Hopefully, when he starts, it's a day where the bullpen gets some rest."
As for Lynn off the mound, those who knew him best described him as having a much more low-key demeanor away from the field and isn't afraid to keep it loose with his teammates.
"He's great," Kinley said. "He's a gamer in between the lines and he's a real competitive guy on the mound, but from knowing him off the field, he's funny, real relaxed and fun to be around. He's a great guy and will be a great asset to this team."
Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.