Carl Pavano’s “decision expected Monday or Tuesday”

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General manager Bill Smith said this afternoon that re-signing Jim Thome won’t keep the Twins from also bringing back Carl Pavano, telling Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune: “We’re very optimistic, very hopeful of bringing Carl Pavano back to this ball club.”

Christensen reports that Pavano “is taking the weekend to think about the Twins’ final offer, with a decision expected Monday or Tuesday.”

And in the meantime Thome plans to do some recruiting to help convince Pavano to re-sign.

Minnesota’s competition for Pavano is unclear, as Washington general manager Mike Rizzo downplayed the Nationals’ interest and the Brewers dropped out of the running after trading for Zack Greinke. Pavano can surely get a one-year deal from several teams, but the Twins may be the only team–or at least the only contending team–offering him a two-year contract. He’s been the top free agent starting pitcher on the market since Cliff Lee signed in mid-December.

Mariano Rivera awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom

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Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Trump on Monday. The Presidential Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian honor to “individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the security or national interests of America, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

Babe Ruth was posthumously awarded the medal last year. Yogi Berra got it posthumously in 2015, and Willie Mays and Vin Scully were also awarded it the same year.

Trump and Rivera are close. Rivera, who is from Panama, has been criticized for his relationship with Trump. Defending that relationship, Rivera said on Fox & Friends in July, “Mr. President Trump to me, he was a friend of mine before he became president. So, because he’s president I will turn my back on him? No. I respect him. I respect what he does and I believe he’s doing the best for the United States of America.”

Rivera, 49, served on Trump’s Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission in 2017. In 2018, Rivera co-chaired Trump’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition. Rivera also co-hosted a fundraiser dinner for the America First Action PAC, which supports Trump and was also hosted by Donald Trump Jr. and Fox News personality Kimberly Guilfoyle.

This past January, Rivera became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously. He is the all-time leader in saves with 652 as well as adjusted ERA (also known as ERA+) at 205. He retired with a 2.21 ERA and 1,173 strikeouts across 1,283 2/3 innings, spanning 19 seasons with the Yankees.