MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins agreed to one-year contracts with outfielder Jason Repko and right-hander Pat Neshek on Thursday and offered 2011 contracts to 26 other players including shortstop J.J. Hardy and left-hander Francisco Liriano.
Repko agreed to a $600,000 deal and Neshek agreed to a $625,000 contract, with both avoiding arbitration. Repko became a reliable backup, a defensive specialist who could play at all three positions, in his first season with the Twins.
Neshek returned in 2010 after missing the previous year following elbow surgery, but he struggled to stay healthy and spent most of the season in the minors.
The Twins saw six relievers become free agents, including Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jon Rauch and Brian Fuentes, so there are spots available for Neshek if he can return to the form he showed in 2006 and 2007 before first hurting his elbow in 2008.
“We’ve got some holes to fill in that bullpen,” general manager Bill Smith said.
Four-time All-Star closer Joe Nathan, who missed last season following elbow ligament replacement surgery, is expected to return in 2011. Smith said Nathan is scheduled to start throwing off of a mound soon.
The Twins have 11 players already under contract for at least 2011. They tendered contracts to every other player on their 40-man roster — which currently stands at 37 — including closer Matt Capps, who gives them insurance if Nathan struggles in his return. Other arbitration-eligible players also offered contracts were outfielder Delmon Young and pitchers Kevin Slowey and Glen Perkins.
Third baseman Danny Valencia, catchers Drew Butera and Jose Morales, infielder Alexi Casilla, outfielder Ben Revere, pitcher Brian Duensing and relievers Jose Mijares and Alex Burnett were among the other players offered contracts.
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