Twins welcome back Jason Bartlett
Former Twins shortstop Jason Bartlett could get a chance to win back his old job, or at least win a share of a platoon arrangement with incumbent Pedro Florimon.
Bartlett, 34, has signed a minor-league deal with the Twins that includes a non-roster invitation to spring training, Twins general manager Terry Ryan confirmed Monday.
"This made a lot of sense," Ryan said in a phone interview. "He was looking to get back, and we had a lot of familiarity with him. He knows who we are. We'll see how things play out."
Florimon, who turns 27 in December, started 127 games at shortstop this season in his first full year in the majors. However, he isn't guaranteed a spot as Opening Day starter.
"I don't think we can all of a sudden just anoint Pedro our starter," Ryan said. "There will be competition. There will be other people at camp. I would say (Florimon) is the front-runner. There's nothing wrong with competition."
Bartlett has not played since May 14, 2012, when he was batting .133 and a strained right knee ended his season with the San Diego Padres. Ryan said he didn't believe Bartlett had undergone surgery to repair the problem.
Nor have the Twins attended any of Bartlett's recent workouts. But Ryan added he was confident the well-regarded veteran would come into spring training in shape and ready to go.
He served three seasons (2005-07) as the Twins' primary shortstop before being traded to Tampa Bay along with right-handed pitcher Matt Garza in November 2007. The Twins received three players in that ill-fated deal, most notably outfielder Delmon Young.
Young was traded to Detroit in 2011 for relievers Lester Oliveros and Cole Nelson.
Bartlett has been to the postseason three times, including a World Series run with the Rays in 2008.
"There's no downside," Ryan said of the Bartlett signing. "This guy is a good athlete. There's no doubt about that. He's always kept himself in good shape. He's 34, but that's not a bad thing sometimes. Sometimes with a little bit more experience, you know a little bit more how to go about things. It would seem like a good match."
Florimon, meanwhile, posted the second-highest Defensive Runs Saved mark in the majors, according to Fangraphs.com. However, Florimon's .281 on-base percentage ranked him 33rd out of 38 shortstops with at least 250 plate appearances.
Bartlett, a right-handed batter, has a career .336 OBP, including .374 against left-handed pitching.
The switch-hitting Florimon batted .229 against lefties in 2013. Of the 248 major leaguers with at least 100 plate appearances against lefties, only Atlanta outfielder B.J. Upton (.227) was worse.
Ryan did not rule out a possible platoon, although he restated his preference for full-time players at as many spots as possible.
"If you get to that point, you always consider it," Ryan said of platooning. "We've talked about this quite a bit recently, about platoons. If that's the way you're going to go to get the most success out of your ballclub, then OK. But I think it's important to have people out there that can play 140, 150 games. If that's the case with Florimon or anybody else, that would be the route you'd like to take."