FORT MYERS, FLA. – The Twins introduced Lance Lynn at a Tuesday morning media session. A couple of hours later, the 30-year-old righthander threw his first exhibition pitches of the spring, hit 94 miles per hour and went three scoreless innings with five strikeouts and one walk against Baltimore.
Lynn had been asked if the inability to find an adequate multiyear contract and settling for a one-year deal had put a “chip on his shoulder,” and he offered this response:
“The chip on my shoulder’s been there since I was born. I’m pretty sure that’s the way my dad says it. So that’s not changing.”
Lynn had spent a decade in the Cardinals organization and that quote lined up with an observation received from a St. Louis baseball writer Monday:
“He wants the ball, he wants to win, and he doesn’t suffer fools.”
The Vikings will receive a visit from quarterback Kirk Cousins on Wednesday and there’s a strong expectation he will agree to a three-year, $84 million deal.
Washington kept putting franchise tags on Cousins rather than give him a multiyear deal.
The signing of Lynn and the arrival of Cousins provide historical comparisons for these franchises, the pair that arrived at Met Stadium in 1961 and turned our prairie outpost into a major league market.
There was a call placed Tuesday and it was answered by a man skiing in the mountains of Park City, Utah.
“The Twins have signed a veteran righthanded starter with a reputation for being grumpy,” I said. “He had to settle for a one-year deal due to the absence of multiyear offers with generous dollars.
“Does that sound familiar?”
Jack Morris laughed slightly and said: “I don’t know about grumpy, but the rest of it sounds like a world championship to me.”
Morris had started for a dozen years in Detroit when he hit the free agent market at age 35 in 1991.
“We still had the remnants of collusion,” Morris said. “I was disgusted with what Detroit offered, and there were only one-year deals out there.”
So the St. Paul guy decided to come home?
“No; I knew the Twins were good,” Morris said. “And when they got Chili [Davis], I thought, ‘OK, the Twins want to win it again.’ ”
Morris signed a one-year deal for $3.75 million, with the idea that a strong season could loosen up the free-agent market. He became the pitching hero of a World Series winner in 1991 and received a two-year, $10 million contract from Toronto, with a $1 million buyout at the end.
On Tuesday, Lynn said: “When I looked at the offseason, I wanted to go somewhere where they had a chance to win no matter what. And this is a place that presented itself as the offseason went on.”
The latest presentation of the Twins’ interest in winning came with the Chili-like acquisition of Logan Morrison, slugger of 38 home runs in 2017, who agreed to a one-year, $6.5 million contract as a free agent on Feb. 26.
Morrison and Zach Duke, a reliever signed earlier, encouraged Lynn to sign with the Twins, and he took an offer that guarantees $12 million and can reach $14 million by achieving bonus clauses.
Back in 2015, Lynn was coming off two consecutive exceptional seasons and entering arbitration for the first time. The Cardinals came to him with a multiyear offer and Lynn’s response was he would sign for three years but give up no free-agent time.
He received a three-year, $22 million deal, got to free agency, found a market that was mysteriously tight for veteran starters, and in Jack Morris style, he will try it again after one season in Minnesota.
As for Cousins, the fact he’s in his prime (29) makes this the most meaningful quarterback transaction the Vikings have made since Jan. 27, 1972, when Fran Tarkenton was reacquired from the New York Giants.
The Vikings had a terrific defense, but the offense needed a dynamic quarterback, and Sir Francis still was that at age 32. Cousins also will be joining a team with an outstanding defense and a chaotic quarterback history.
Cousins will be 30 when he plays his first game, and the tiebreaker for him in the Vikings’ favor is obviously a big chance to prove he’s a winner — to get the Vikings to a Super Bowl for the first time since the 1976 season (the last of Tarkenton’s three).
And then like Lynn, he can hit the free-agent market again in his early 30s, and go for an even larger jackpot.
As fans of Minnesota’s makers of a major league market, you can sign on to both of these guys. They won’t be Hall of Famers as were Tarkenton and finally Morris, but when in doubt, they chose the options where they saw the best opportunity to win.