Re-signing Carl Pavano leaves Twins with an extra starter

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Carl Pavano is a 35-year-old pitcher with an infamously lengthy injury history and one of the lowest strikeout rates in baseball last season, so re-signing him to a two-year, $16.5 million contract is not without risk for Minnesota, but to avoid a three-year commitment and retain him for a slight bump in annual salary from the $7 million he earned in 2010 is a very sound move for the Twins.

It also means the Twins now have six starting pitchers for five rotation spots, or perhaps more accurately four guys for the three spots behind Francisco Liriano and Pavano. And the rotation logjam will get even more crowded once 2009 first-round pick and top prospect Kyle Gibson is ready for a call-up, most likely around midseason.

It’s a nice problem to have, of course, and re-signing Pavano will look even better for the Twins if they’re able to address other needs by either trading one of Kevin Slowey, Nick Blackburn, Scott Baker, and Brian Duensing for good value or shifting someone to the question mark-filled bullpen with success following offseason free agent departures by relievers Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brian Fuentes, and Jon Rauch.

Duensing has the most relief experience, while Slowey or Baker likely have the most trade value. And if the Twins could, they’d surely love to get out from under Blackburn’s contract.