Possible Extension Would Be ‘special’ (www.mlb.com)

The future of the Twins’ starting rotation will go through Kenta Maeda — with top prospects Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran likely to factor in, too. Could

be part of those teams, too?

The Twins’ two-time Opening Day starter said Friday that his representatives have engaged with the Twins about the possibility of an extension, though things haven’t developed to the point where the sides are discussing any actual numbers, he said.

Berríos, 26, has been one of the club’s most prized arms since he was selected in the first round of the 2012 Draft and has steadily improved his performance across five Major League seasons, with a 4.19 career ERA. Though he got off to a shaky start in ’20, he finished the season with five strong appearances and a stifling outing in Game 2 of the American League Wild Card Series against Houston.

“Like, I don’t wake up every morning thinking, ‘Is that going to happen?'” Berríos said. “But for sure they’re going to help me to be more focused on my work. Like the way I am right now, like I say, I don’t wake up and think about when I’m going to sign, but yeah, for sure, that’s going to be special for me and my family.”

Fixing Berríos into the rotation could be significant for the Twins’ stability moving forward as they hope to continue to contend. Maeda is under contract through 2023, but the remainder of the rotation — Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ and likely Matt Shoemaker — are all bound for free agency following this season. Berríos is currently under contract through ’22.

“People call me it and I know I am working for that, but I am the ace of the Twins and I want to be and look like that guy,” Berríos said.

Twelve players absent from first day of pitcher/catcher workouts
The Twins had one of the most delayed starts to camp in the league as organized activities for pitchers and catchers began at the CenturyLink Sports Complex on Friday — but still, a significant chunk of their personnel wasn’t able to participate on the first day for a variety of reasons as the club undertook a productive day of distanced workouts in three groups spread across the facility.

The 12 players absent from workouts were Andrew Albers, Jorge Alcala, Danny Coulombe, Tyler Duffey, Duran, Ian Gibaut, Happ, Derek Law, Juan Minaya, Shoemaker, Glenn Sparkman and Tomás Telis. Minor League depth pitcher Robinson Leyer was also unable to participate.

The club did not specify the reasons for any individual absence, but it noted that they were mostly the result of the time required to pass through the COVID intake protocol, some visa issues and the inclement weather that has impacted a wide swath of the country this week.

Shoemaker signing could complete rotation; Gibaut outrighted
The Twins officially announced the signing of right-hander Shoemaker on Friday, formalizing their final major move leading into Spring Training. Shoemaker, 34, is signed to a one-year, $2 million deal and is expected to be the favorite to hold the fifth rotation spot into the regular season, assuming health and solid performance.

Shoemaker has dealt with a huge assortment of maladies that have limited him to 18 starts across the past three seasons, including a forearm issue, an ACL tear and shoulder inflammation. Still, pitching coach Wes Johnson said he likes the fastball and splitter that have led to a 3.86 career ERA and a Game 1 start for the Blue Jays in last year’s AL Wild Card Series.

“This is a guy who’s had some bad luck,” Johnson said. “He’s had an ACL [injury], some weird stuff. It’s not arm-related for the most part. I think this guy is primed and ready to have a good year. He’s got good stuff and he throws strikes. … This guy knows how to get good hitters out. We’re excited. I think Matt is primed and ready to have a really good year for him.”

In a corresponding move, the Twins outrighted right-hander Gibaut off the 40-man roster and invited him to Spring Training as a non-roster invitee. Gibaut was claimed off waivers from Texas in October and joins Brandon Waddell and Ian Hamilton, who were both outrighted in the last week.

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