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12/13/06 7:15 PM ET
Twins sign Cirillo to one-year deal
Veteran infielder's $1.5 million contract includes incentives
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
MINNEAPOLIS -- Jeff Cirillo is now officially a Twin.
The Twins announced the signing of the former Brewers infielder on Wednesday afternoon to a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. The deal allows for up to $300,000 in incentives with $100,000 bonuses for Cirillo reaching 200, 250 and 300 plate appearances.
Cirillo had confirmed that a deal was in place on Monday, but it wasn't made official until Wednesday, when he passed his physical. The 37-year-old infielder is expected to give the Twins a boost to their infield depth.
"We were looking for a guy that could play some first, third, second and DH," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "We saw him quite a bit with the Brewers, and we think he'll be a good fit for that here."
Cirillo batted .319 with three home runs and 23 RBIs in 112 games and 263 at-bats last season for Milwaukee. During his 13 years in the Majors, Cirillo has played primarily at third base. Nick Punto is still expected to be the club's starting third baseman, but Cirillo will provide depth at the position along with being a right-handed-hitting option to give Justin Morneau a breather at first base at times.
"I think there will be enough at-bats to keep him busy," Ryan said of Cirillo. "But I think Nick right now will be our third baseman."
Cirillo may not be getting a starting spot, but he is expected to bring some help to the Twins offense, especially against left-handed pitchers. Cirillo has hit .408 against left-handers over the past two seasons, and he could see time in the designated hitter role against left-handers. He doesn't hit for much power but, Cirillo brings experience and a quality approach to the plate.
"He's not going to hit it over the fence a great amount of time, but he's got doubles power," Ryan said of Cirillo. "He takes a professional at-bat. He knows how to move runners and score runners."
One of the primary reasons that Cirillo decided to sign with the Twins was the ability he'll have to DH. Having played eight seasons in Milwaukee, Cirillo admitted that it was hard to leave, but the Brewers could offer him no more than a pinch-hitting role with the club. In the end, that wasn't enough.
"The role I'll be playing in Minnesota will probably [to] get me three times as many at-bats," Cirillo said on Monday night. "It came down to playing time."