The Minnesota Twins have called a 4 p.m. news conference to announce long-term deals for Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer that will keep them with the club when the new ballpark opens in 2010.
According to a Twins source, Morneau agreed to a six-year deal through 2013, while Cuddyer received three years plus a club option for 2011. Financial terms were not immediately available. Morneau would have been a free agent after the 2010 season, and Cuddyer after 2009.
The club had hoped to announce the signings at its annual media luncheon Friday but pushed it back because Morneau would not arrive in town soon enough. The announcement also coincides with the opening of TwinFest, when single-game tickets go on sale.
Morneau, the 2006 American League Most Valuable Player, wanted to remain a Twin because his girlfriend lives in Minnesota and he plans to build a house here, according to the source. The Twins source declined to be identified or reveal more details for fear of upstaging the news conference.
Last week, Morneau accepted a one-year, $7.4 million deal to avoid arbitration. The new contract will supplant that.
The deals ensure that Morneau, Cuddyer and Joe Mauer, who is entering the second-year of a four-year, $33 million contract, will still be Twins when the new ballpark opens — barring a trade, of course.
After a summer and off-season of disappointment and discontent, including the departure of free agent Torii Hunter and the on-again, off-again trade rumors about Johan Santana, the Twins needed something to encourage fans to buy tickets.
General manager Bill Smith was in a particularly good mood at the luncheon but declined to confirm the signings.
Cuddyer, who has already played second base, third base and right field for the Twins, may be asked to play another new position this season. Manager Ron Gardenhire told the New York Times last week that he could shift Cuddyer to center field if Santana isn’t traded by opening day. Any Santana trade is expected to include a starting center fielder for the team.
UPDATE: The Associated Press reported Morneau’s deal totals $80 million for six years, while Cuddyer gets $24 million for three years. It does not break down Morneau’s contract, but Cuddyer’s includes a $2.75 million signing bonus, a $5 million salary for 2008, $6.75 million in ’09 and $8.5 million in ’10, according to the AP. Further, the 2011 club option is $10.5 million, with a $1 million buyout.