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Twins sign pitcher Lynn to bolster rotation

Sep 28, 2017; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Lance Lynn (31) pitches during the first inning against the Chicago Cubs at Busch Stadium. The Twins signed Lynn this week to a deal worth 1 year, $12 million. Jeff Curry / USA TODAY Sports

FORT MYERS, Fla. — Joe Mauer received confirmation of the latest big Twins addition on Saturday evening, March 10, via text message from Logan Morrison, his teammate for less than two weeks.

Former St. Louis Cardinals right-hander Lance Lynn had agreed to terms on a one-year, $12 million deal with the Twins, pending a physical Sunday and Monday, according to a person with direct knowledge. Morrison, Lynn's workout partner at Cressey Sports Performance in Jupiter, Fla., couldn't wait to share the news with Mauer.

"I'm pretty pumped up, man," Morrison said Sunday morning, March 11, in the Twins clubhouse. "I was texting with Joe last night. I think I said, 'Let's go' with about a million exclamation points. He sent me an emoji back of the Napoleon Dynamite guy going like this."

Here Morrison bowed his head and clenched his left fist, pulling it down in a dramatic, celebratory motion. When Mauer is throwing around memes, you know it's a big day for the Twins.

"For sure, he's been the face of your franchise for 17 years," Morrison said of Mauer. "If this is his last year here, being able to send him out a winner would be pretty cool."

Mauer, entering the final season of his eight-year, $184 million contract, is understandably pleased to see the Twins adding a significant piece in three of the past four weekends since spring training opened on Valentine's Day. He doesn't know Lynn that well other than facing him a few times in spring and interleague play, but the three-time 15-game winner and two-time World Series participant enters with a strong resume.

"Just what I've seen from the other dugout, he looks like a competitor, comes right after you," Mauer said. "I know he eats up a lot of innings. That will be a good thing for us."

Lynn, 30, joins fellow right-hander Jake Odorizzi and Morrison, expected to be the Twins' primary designated hitter, in the Twins' continued "spring forward" efforts that go well beyond the clock on the wall.

"It's been an interesting offseason, an abnormal offseason," Mauer said. "To be able to add a guy like Lynn or Morrison at this stage of the year or offseason — I don't know, are we still in offseason? — to be able to add talent like that is definitely something I really haven't seen in my time here. I'm definitely happy to welcome those guys."

Lynn already comes highly recommended by new Twins reliever Zach Duke, who played with him for parts of two seasons in St. Louis. The handful of players in the Twins' clubhouse who know him from workouts with Eric Cressey, the noted strength-and-conditioning guru with bases in South Florida and Massachusetts, vouch for Lynn as well.

"Lance is great," said reliever Tyler Kinley, a Rule 5 pick in December. "Between the lines he's an animal on the mound: all about competing, all about winning. But off the field and knowing him in the gym and playing catch with him, he's a great guy. He's funny. He's good to be around. He's loose. He's hilarious."

Lynn grew up near Indianapolis and pitched in college at Ole Miss, so his homespun humor has made him a media favorite for years.

"In the weight room and on the field, he's a gamer and a half," Kinley said. "I'm excited to be with him. Between him and Logan and all those guys (at Cressey), I was like a sponge walking around everywhere, just (soaking up) anything they say."

Morrison did his best to help recruit Lynn to the Twins, who were reportedly outbid by teams that didn't carry as much competitive or personal appeal to Lynn.

"I didn't go out there and tell him to take less to come here but I definitely wanted him to come," Morrison said. "I feel like that's one of our areas to improve is starting pitching. Getting a horse like that is pretty exciting. I'm ready to get this thing going."

Lynn's off-field traits are just as important as what he'll bring to the mound.

"Solid human being," Morrison said. "I think he's going to fit in well here. It's not hard to fit in here, though. Nice guy but what I like is he's ultra-competitive and knows how to separate the two. Dude, I mean, his numbers speak for themselves. He's a really solid pitcher and I'm really excited to have him. I'm ready to get this thing going."

Monday will mark the one-month point since Cressey posted a video clip on his Twitter account showing Lynn pitching to Morrison in a live batting practice session in Jupiter. It carried the hash tags #freeagentfun and #AdventuresofLoMoandLance.

Could Morrison possibly have envisioned this outcome back on Feb. 12?

"I did not think about that at all, but it's pretty cool to see that actually come into fruition," he said with a smile. "I'm excited, man. Minneapolis should be excited. It's going to be a fun summer."

Told all of baseball is talking about the Twins, Mauer looked ahead just a bit.

"Hopefully," he said, "they're talking about us in October and beyond."

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