AP Sports Writer
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Twins have filled another hole in a staff that was full of them last season, when their starters posted the second-worst ERA in the majors and 12 pitchers took at least five turns in the rotation.
General manager Terry Ryan acknowledged Thursday, after the team finalized a $10 million, two-year contract with right-hander Kevin Correia, that there's no guarantee this move will strengthen the group. However. Ryan said he's still looking for candidates after casting a wide net at baseball's winter meetings last week.
"Anybody who represented a starting pitcher, I think we talked to that agent, and that was quite a few," Ryan said. "They were coming out of our suite in a rapid-fire fashion."
The 32-year-old Correia was an All-Star in 2011 with Pittsburgh. He went 12-11 with a 4.21 ERA, 46 walks and only 89 strikeouts in 171 innings this year, losing his spot in the rotation when the Pirates traded for Wandy Rodriguez.
Correia's best season came in 2009, his first of two with San Diego, when he went 12-11 with a 3.91 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 198 innings, making 33 starts.
"He knows what he's doing on the mound. He's a guy we've seen quite a bit," Ryan said. "When you start cracking his numbers, they're very respectable."
Correia, primarily a reliever with San Francisco at the beginning of his career, has pitched in parts of 10 major league seasons. He will make $4.5 million next year and $5.5 million in 2014, his first time in the American League.
Ryan raised the concern of Correia's adjustment to hitters he hasn't faced much, or at all, plus the addition of the designated hitter to his opponents' lineups.
"But this guy's been around long enough, where I don't think that's going to affect him," Ryan said.
Ryan also noted Correia's low strikeout figures, particularly in the last two years. So he realizes there's some risk in this investment.
"I'm not banking on big strikeout totals by him, because he is a big command guy," Ryan said.
This is the type of pitch-to-contact and rely-on-defense starter the Twins have had success with in the past but have struggled with recently. The fan base is fed up with them, after seasons of 99 and 96 losses, and the general public reaction to the signing of Correia was not positive. The organization has begun to steer away from that mold, acquiring top prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May in separate trades the last two weeks with Washington and Philadelphia. But those moves are more for 2015 than 2013, so Ryan still needed to find some experience on the market.
Twins starters went 39-75 with a 5.40 ERA last year, ahead of only Colorado. After adding right-hander Vance Worley in the deal with the Phillies that forced the Twins to give up center fielder Ben Revere, they appear to have three-fifths of the rotation filled, with left-hander Scott Diamond the only returner assured of a spot.
Nick Blackburn, Samuel Deduno, Cole De Vries, Liam Hendriks and P.J. Walters are among the holdovers who will get another chance to join them in spring training, but none of them did enough to put themselves in any more of a favorable position than anyone else. Kyle Gibson, the team's first-round draft pick in 2009 who is coming back from elbow ligament-replacement surgery, is a candidate but will probably be on an innings limit.
Last year, the Twins signed veteran right-hander Jason Marquis to be their fifth starter, but he stumbled badly, posting an 8.47 ERA in seven starts with nine home runs allowed in 34 innings. He was released. Ryan said he
"Sometimes the fit just wasn't meant to be, and I don't have an explanation for that," Ryan said. "But when he left here and went to the Padres, he did fine."
Marquis went 6-7 in 15 starts for San Diego with a 4.04 ERA and 79 strikeouts in 93-plus innings.
AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski contributed to this report.
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