Jason Marquis, Twins agree on deal

MINNEAPOLIS -- Jason Marquis spent his entire 12-season career in the National League before becoming a free agent this offseason. With the Minnesota Twins in need of a fifth starter, he figured he'd give the other circuit a try.

Marquis agreed to a $3 million, one-year contract with the Twins on Thursday, and now he's eager to take his sinker -- and his dangerous bat -- to the American League full-time.

"Other than trying to lobby for some at-bats, I don't think it's going to change much," Marquis said.

Well, he won't have the pitcher's spot in the lineup to face once every nine hitters, but he will get to pitch at spacious Target Field, which has been one of the most difficult parks to hit a homer in during its first two seasons of existence.

In the end, the Twins were looking for a veteran to help stabilize the back end of a shaky rotation. They went with Marquis, who missed the last month and a half of last season with a broken right leg after he was hit by a line drive.

The 33-year-old Marquis went 8-5 with a 3.95 ERA for the Washington Nationals last season before being traded to the Arizona Diamondbacks on July 30. The right-hander was 0-1 with a 9.53 ERA in three starts for Arizona.

"He's a groundball machine and he throws the ball over the plate," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said.

Marquis actually walks 3.5 batters per nine innings, which is a little on the high side, especially by Twins standards. But the sinkerballer induces a ton of grounders, and the Twins were looking for somebody to come in after they traded Kevin Slowey to the Rockies so they could move left-handed starter Brian Duensing to the bullpen.

Ryan said that signing Marquis didn't necessarily mean Duensing was moving to the 'pen, but it's clear that is the team's preference. If everyone is healthy coming out of spring training, the Twins think that is the best scenario.

"If they're all healthy, that certainly fortifies our bullpen," Ryan said.

The expenditure brings the Twins' payroll close to $100 million, which was a soft target the team had before the offseason in its effort to slash about $15 million.

"We're closing in," Ryan said. "We've got a little wiggle room here."

Marquis can earn an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses.