The Twins have re-signed manager Ron Gardenhire to a new two-year contract, the team announced. The entire coaching staff will return as well.
Gardenhire, 55, was on the hot seat after the Twins lost 96+ games for the third straight season. It's the first time they've done that since moving to Minnesota in 1961. Heyman reported over the weekend that a short-term reunion could be in the works since the club loves continuity.
Since replacing the iconic Tom Kelly in 2002, the Twins have gone 998-947 (.513) under Gardenhire. That includes six division titles and five first round playoff exits. Minnesota lost to the Angels in the 2002 ALCS. Gardenhire was named AL Manager of the Year in 2010 and has finished second in the voting on five other occasions.
It's likely Gardenhire received assurances the team would increase payroll before signing the new two-year deal. The Twins opened 2013 with an $82.01 million payroll, down from $100.44 million in 2012 and $113.24 million in 2011. Target Field has been open since 2010.
To their credit, the Twins are widely considered to have one of the very best farm systems in baseball, highlighted by outfielder Byron Buxton and third baseman Miguel Sano. They didn't have a single starting pitcher post better than a 6.0 K/9 this season, however, and Joe Mauer was the only regular to be above-average offensively all year (143 OPS+). It's going to take more than upping payroll to turn the Twins around.