Twins agree to four year contract extension with ace pitcher Pablo Lopez

April 18, 2023

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. (AP)–The Minnesota Twins and starting pitcher Pablo López agreed Monday on a contract that adds $73.5 million over four seasons, according to a person with direct knowledge of the deal.

The person confirmed the agreement to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the contract was still pending completion of a physical exam and had not yet been announced by the club.

López’s first season with the Twins has started splendidly after he arrived in a trade with Miami that sent 2022 American League batting champion and fan favorite Luis Arraez to the Marlins. The right-hander has a 1.73 ERA through four starts with 33 strikeouts in 26 innings and only 15 hits allowed.

López was the hard-luck loser Sunday in New York, when Yankees ace Gerrit Cole pitched a two-hit shutout to beat the Twins 2-0. That was the second complete game in the major leagues this year. The first one also came at López’s expense, when 2022 National League Cy Young Award winner Sandy Alcantara pitched a three-hit shutout April 4 to beat the Twins 1-0.

López is making $5.45 million this season, his second year of arbitration eligibility. The new deal will give the Twins some additional long-term stability around a rotation that has emerged in 2023 as a clear strength of the team. The Twins entered their day off Monday with a 2.58 starting pitcher ERA that was the best in the major leagues.

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 posted 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.

The Twins, who lead the AL Central with a 10-6 record, start a three-game series Tuesday in Boston against the Red Sox.