Uber deal: Twins lock up pitcher Dobnak for long term

Published 3:23 pm Monday, March 29, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The Minnesota Twins signed right-hander Randy Dobnak to a $9.25 million, five-year contract that includes three club options and could be worth $29.75 million over eight seasons with the overachieving former ride-share driver.

Dobnak went 6-4 with a 4.05 ERA in 10 starts last season, before hitting a slump and being sent to the team’s alternate training site.

The bespectacled, mustachioed 26-year-old became a cult hero after his major league debut in 2019, when he wound up starting a postseason game at

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Yankee Stadium. Dobnak went undrafted out of an NCAA Division II program, Alderson Broaddus University in West Virginia, and was pitching in an obscure independent league in Michigan when the Twins discovered him. To make ends meet along his way up the ladder, Dobnak was an Uber driver during his spare time.

He’ll be the team’s primary long reliever to start, essentially the sixth starter behind José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, Matt Shoemaker, Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ.

Dobnak had agreed March 5 to a one-year contract paying $583,500 while in the major leagues and $246,163 while in the minors.

His new superseding contract calls for salaries of $700,000 this year and $800,000 in 2022. He would get $1.5 million in 2023, $2.25 million in 2024 and $3 million in 2025, the three seasons he would have been eligible for salary arbitration.

Minnesota has a $6 million option with a $1 million buyout for 2026, the first season he would have been eligible for free agency. The Twins have a $7 million option for 2027 with a $100,000 buyout and an $8.5 million option for 2028 with a $100,000 buyout.

His 2026 option would escalate by $200,000 each for 130, 150 and 170 innings each time reached from 2023-25. It also would increase by $2 million for each Cy Young Award in those years, $1 million for each second-place finish, $500,000 for each third place and $250,000 for any time fourth through sixth. It would increase by $100,000 each time he’s an All-Star.

The 2027 option would increase by the same amounts for each accomplishment from 2024-26 and the 2028 option by the same amounts for each achievement from 2025-27.

Dobnak also would earn award bonuses of $25,000 each time he makes the All-Star team and wins a Gold Glove, $50,000 for League Championship Series MVP and $100,000 for World Series MVP. He would get $100,000 for winning a Cy Young, $75,000 for second, $50,000 for third and $25,000 for fourth through sixth.