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08/18/09 1:59 AM ET
Twins, Gibson beat deadline for deal
Two sides compromise as Missouri pitcher joins club
By Kelly Thesier / MLB.com
ARLINGTON -- The Twins signed their first-round Draft pick, right-hander Kyle Gibson, to a $1.85 million signing bonus Monday night, barely beating the 11 p.m. CT deadline. Negotiations between the two sides, who had been separated by more than $1 million heading into Monday, stretched into the final hour before a deal was reached with about 10 minutes to spare. "I'm excited as all get out," Gibson said of the deal. "There was a time [I wondered if it'd get done]. Earlier in the day, there was a stalemate at $1.5 million. I was seeing signings go down all around me. The Twins stepped up and made a good offer." Gibson, 21, who went 11-3 with a 3.21 ERA at the University of Missouri this season, was ranked by Baseball America as the fourth-best prospect in this year's Draft, but he fell to the Twins at the No. 22 spot after suffering a stress fracture in his right forearm. Having selected a player whose stock had dropped due to an injury, Twins assistant general manager Rob Antony acknowledged that the club knew it might have issues signing him to the slot amount for its pick. "We were willing to take that risk in knowing that this is the guy we might have to go over slot to get it done," Antony said. "We believed the player had the talent that we would be willing to do that if it came down to it, and we got ownership support to do it." In the end, the Twins decided it was worth going above the Commissioner's Office slot recommendation of $1.29 million for the No. 22 pick. Antony said he believed it's the first time that the Twins have gone above the recommended slot amount for a first-round pick. However, it was a concession by both sides, as Gibson had hoped to sign for about $2.5 million but made a big compromise at the end. "It was a situation where going into it I knew I was going to have to take a discount," Gibson said. "But I was willing to do that more if they came my way. They did, and they made the decision of going down a lot easier when they made the step from $1.5 to 1.85. So it was well worth it. I'm in a great organization and looking forward to it." There had been indications that Gibson, 21, was preparing to return to Missouri for his senior season if a deal was not reached. Had the Twins been unable to sign Gibson, they would have received a compensation pick in next year's Draft that was one spot lower than this year's No. 22 pick. Antony said that the club felt it had a greater talent in Gibson than it could get with the No. 23 pick in the 2010 First-Year Draft. And once officials explained that to the Pohlad family, the Twins owners, they were very supportive in upping the offer to the pitcher. "It is a new thing for us," Antony said of going over the slot for a first-round pick. "I'm not sure that will be a common practice for us." The stress fracture in Gibson's arm has completely healed, and the pitcher said he's been throwing for about three weeks, putting him about halfway to being completely ready. Gibson said that he'll report to Fort Myers, Fla., in about a week to start working with organizational staff and preparing for instructional league, which begins in mid-September. And now that the negotiations are behind him, Gibson said he's ready to show the team what it got by signing him. "I want to make a good impression and let the Twins know that this was a good investment," Gibson said. "I want to go down there and start working. Show everybody that they didn't overpay for a guy and [that they're] getting somebody who is worth it and willing to work extra." As for the Twins, they seem just as pleased to have gotten a deal done and that Gibson will indeed be part of their organization. "I think we held out hope the entire time that knowing the kid, we truly believed he wanted to sign and get going now," Antony said. "That held true. ... Now we've got a polished pitcher who throws strikes, and has the makeup and personality and everything that we believe is a good fit in our organization." The Twins ended up signing 23 of their 51 Draft picks in the 2009 First-Year Player Draft, including their first 10 selections. The club's only other signing Monday was 44th-round pick Tyler Herr, a right-handed pitcher from Katy (Texas) High School.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.