It’s official: Carl Pavano will remain with the Minnesota Twins for now after tonight signing a two-year contract worth $16.5 million.

This move was crucial for the Twins. The Twins, winners of the American League Central in 2010, would have had their playoff hopes significantly decreased had Pavano signed elsewhere for 2011. In 2010, the Twins ranked 16th overall in ERA of starting pitchers with a 4.17 ERA. Pavano was very successful in 2010, posting a 17-11 record to go along with a 3.75 ERA.

It was speculated that the Twins fifth starter in 2011 assuming Pavano would not return would be either Nick Blackburn or Kevin Slowey. In 2010, Blackburn had a 5.42 ERA, while Slowey’s was 4.45. Now that Pavano’s return is official, the Twins will be able to remove one of these starters from their rotation, eliminating a weakness.

With Pavano, the Twins rotation has to be considered among the deepest in the American League. As of now, it looks to be composed of Francisco Liriano, Carl Pavano, Scott Baker, Brian Duensing and either Kevin Slowey or Nick Blackburn. Liriano is a legitimate ace, and every one of the Twins starters is strong relative to his spot in the rotation. 

In one and a half seasons with the Twins, Pavano has a 22-15 record with a 3.97 ERA. He has helped the Twins reach the playoffs now two seasons in a row, though their success has been limited in October. The Twins’ decision to go out and re-sign Pavano shows that the Twins are still the head of the American League Central. Now that Pavano is officially back, coupled with the return of Justin Morneau, the Twins have to be considered legitimate threats to reach the World Series in 2011.

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