Twins staff armed for 'very long time': Lopez seals $73.5M extension

MINNEAPOLIS -- Pablo López quickly felt at home with the Minnesota Twins.

"By the time the trade happened, I heard from multiple people how good of a fit this would be, and I can't put into words how right that was," López said Friday after finalizing a contract that guarantees $73.5 million over four seasons from 2024 to 2027.

Acquired from Miami in a January swap that sent American League batting champion and fan favorite Luis Arraez to the Marlins, López is 1-1 with a 1.73 ERA through four starts with 33 strikeouts in 26 innings and only 15 hits allowed.

He is earning $5.45 million this season in a one-year deal agreed to in January. His new agreement calls for a $1 million signing bonus, half payable within 60 days of the contract's approval by the commissioner's office and half payable Jan. 15. He gets an $8 million salary in 2024 and $21.5 million in each of the following three seasons.

"When we traded for him and had that first phone call with him, the first words out of his mouth were, 'Thank you' and then it was, 'I'm going to do everything I can every day to make the Minnesota Twins better and make my teammates better,'" Twins president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said. "I can't think of something that sums up Pablo López more than that statement, and I'm thrilled to be able to say today that he will be here with us for a long time."

In addition to the base salaries, López would earn a $500,000 bonus for winning a Cy Young Award, $250,000 for finishing second in the voting, $150,000 for third and $100,000 for fourth through sixth. López would get $25,000 for All-Star election or selection, $25,000 for a Gold Glove, $100,000 for World Series MVP and $50,000 for league championship series MVP.

"Still feels surreal at times," López said, "but I'm just looking forward to every single day of my career here."

The new deal for the 27-year-old gives the Twins additional long-term stability around a rotation that has emerged as a strength.

Sonny Gray, Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle are all in the final year of their contracts, eligible to become free agents in the fall. Their uncertain status for next season only underscored the team's interest in committing to López, who had a 3.94 ERA over 94 starts with the Marlins.

Joe Ryan is the only other starter under club control beyond 2023. There's viable depth in Triple-A -- including Bailey Ober, who has a 3.81 ERA in 31 major league starts -- and Chris Paddack is due back from Tommy John elbow surgery around midseason this year. But the 27-year-old López, a native of Venezuela, has given the Twins an ace-caliber leader to build around. He took the mound for a career-high 32 starts last season.

"Knowing that you have someone with the presence that Pablo has, with the work ethic he has, all the things he's going to show," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "When you have that type of confidence in a guy, it makes you feel wonderful. And he's going to be leading us now for a very long time at the top of our staff."

In other moves, the Twins reinstated infielder Jorge Polanco from the 10-day injured list on Friday. Polanco was immediately placed in the starting lineup against the visiting Washington Nationals, marking his season debut. Polanco missed the Twins' first 19 games after opening the season on the IL because of left knee inflammation.

The Twins also recalled right-handed pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson from Triple-A St. Paul and optioned infielder Edouard Julien and right-hander Jorge Alcala to Triple-A.

Polanco, 29, batted .231 during his rehab assignments at Low-A Fort Myers and Triple-A. In 752 career games with the Twins since his 2014 debut, Polanco is a .270 hitter with 98 home runs, 399 RBIs and 47 stolen bases. He was an All-Star in 2019.

Woods Richardson, 22, made his major league debut in October and scattered 3 hits, 2 walks and 3 runs (two earned) over five innings in a loss to Detroit.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.