Twins finalize 1-year deal with vet infielder Donovan Solano

Published 4:28 pm Thursday, February 23, 2023

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FORT MYERS, Fla. — Infielder Donovan Solano finalized a $2 million, one-year contract on Thursday with the Minnesota Twins, who added another productive and versatile player to an already deep bench.

The deal was agreed to on Tuesday and completed after Solano took a physical on Thursday. He can earn an additional $250,000 in performance bonuses for plate appearances: $25,000 each for 325 and 375, $50,000 for 425 and $75,000 apiece for 475 and 502.

Solano hit .284 with 16 doubles and four home runs last season in 80 games for Cincinnati, playing mostly first base. He spent three years with San Francisco prior to that, winning a Silver Slugger award for National League second basemen in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season when he batted .326 with a career-best .828 OPS in 54 games.

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Solano has primarily been a second baseman, with experience also at third base and shortstop. He’ll give the Twins additional infield depth along with another former Reds player, Kyle Farmer, who will also be in the mix as a backup corner outfielder. Nick Gordon, who is Minnesota’s most versatile player, is firmly in that reserve pool, too.

“It’s just fair to say we’ll take literally as many good players as we can get,” manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters Wednesday.

Solano, who picked up the nickname “Donnie Barrels” for his consistent ability to send line drives to all parts of the field, will be counted on to provide another productive right-handed batter for a roster that could use more of them beyond stars Byron Buxton, Carlos Correa and Jose Miranda. Solano will also give Baldelli another option as a designated hitter, where Solano took a turn 26 times for the Reds in 2022.

“The sooner I get my at-bats, the sooner I stay in the lineup, I’m happy. Sometimes, I want to be on defense and play the field, but if there’s opportunities like that to DH, I’ll be happy and I’ll be wanting to contribute to the team,” Solano told reporters after arriving at spring training.

Stuck in Triple-A with the New York Yankees system in 2017 and the Los Angeles Dodgers system in 2018, Solano went 2 1/2 years between major league at-bats before catching on with the Giants.

“I knew I had to change something, outside baseball things, with God, with my prayers, with everything inside me. That helped me,” Solano said. “I think God helped me involving everything with my business, in my career. I changed my hitting success after doing that decision.”

The 35-year-old, a native of Colombia, made his major league debut with Miami in 2012. He’s a .278 hitter with 27 home runs in 686 games.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Twins placed right-handed pitcher Chris Paddack on the 60-day injured list. Paddack will miss most of the season while recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. The ulnar collateral ligament injury limited Paddack to five starts in his Twins debut last year.