February 11, 1985
Kent Hrbek was coming off a season in which he finished second in AL MVP voting, and was looking to get paid by the new Twins owner, Carl Pohlad. Arbitration was scheduled for February 15, but Pohlad reached into his pockets to give Hrbek the most lucrative contract in franchise history, a five-year, $5.9 million deal.
Hrbek had requested $1.1 million while the Twins’ offer stood at $650,000. Coming off the year he had in 1984 (comparisons to Morneau’s MVP season below), Hrbek was likely to win had the issue reached arbitration, so the two sides struck a bit of a compromise. Hrbek’s new deal called for a $300,000 signing bonus and only $500,000 for the 1985 season, a figure that was on the low side due to the possibility of a players’ strike that season. The money was to jump significantly after 1985, making Hrbek the first Twins player to sign a deal worth more than $1 million per year.
Hrbek 1984 (24 years old): .311/.383/.522 27 HR 145 OPS+ 8.5 WARP3 2nd AL MVP Voting
Morneau 2006 (25 years old): .321/.375/.559 34 HR 140 OPS+ 9.5 WARP3 AL MVP
The deal was a boost for Twins fans, who had no idea what to make of the new owner. “I think it goes a long way to show fans Carl Pohlad is dedicated to do what he can do to put a winning team on the field” said team President Howard Fox.
For Hrbek’s part, upon learning that the deal was imminent, he left to go ice fishing as a way of escaping the steady stream of calls from reporters. Hrbek made more than just a couple of million dollars that day; “I didn’t get a bite but I won $4 playing cribbage” he told Patrick Reusse.
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