Molitor excited about Twins' bright future

Molitor excited about Twins' bright future

MINNEAPOLIS -- By the time the Twins wrapped up their surprising 2017 campaign that saw them reach the postseason for the first time since 2010 with their run to the American League Wild Card Game, chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine had already made up their minds.

They decided to bring back Paul Molitor as manager, but they didn't want to create any distractions down the stretch and didn't talk with Molitor about his status until after the season. But after five days of negotiations, it became official with Molitor signing a three-year contract on Monday and the club hosting an informal news conference at Target Field on Tuesday.

"We view this as a partnership," Falvey said. "We know Paul is a very thoughtful person. What transpired the last four or five days, we anticipated. We felt like as a team, with where we were in a competitive standpoint, that we'd wait until baseball was in the rearview. We hoped it would be later in the fall, but we felt it was the right time and were hopeful it would end with this outcome."

Molitor, a candidate for the AL Manager of the Year Award, guided the Twins to a franchise-record 26-win improvement over the previous season, with Minnesota becoming the first team to go from losing more than 100 games to the postseason the following year. The Twins were also the second club to have the No. 1 overall pick and make the playoffs in the same season, joining the 2008 Rays.

Twins look to build on success

"This year brought a lot of positive things that we're trying to move forward in," Molitor said. "We're trying to reach our goal of being a World Series champion. I talked about that three years ago. I'm very grateful that with Thad and Derek throughout the year, our relationship has continued to grow. It's an exciting day for me and my family."

Molitor tried not to think about his job status during the season, but he always wanted to return as manager. He said the negotiations went as planned, although a small part of it was about the coaching staff, with all but pitching coach Neil Allen being retained.

"Considering it was the first year together, it was great cooperation and collaboration," Molitor said of his relationship with Falvey and Levine. "More often than not, things lined up, but sometimes we had things to work through. But that's fine. The one thing I was thankful for was that I never felt meddled with the way I ran a game, my pitching staff and who I wanted to play. I think that's important."

The 61-year-old Hall of Famer is also popular in the clubhouse, as Twins players view him as a stoic leader and endorsed him after their AL Wild Card Game loss to the Yankees. Molitor helped keep spirits high after the Twins were sellers at the non-waiver Trade Deadline, then bounced back to go 20-10 in August and take control of the second AL Wild Card spot.

"It's critical," Falvey said. "When you're evaluating the situation, you want to know what the environment is like, which is why I spend so much time [in the clubhouse] and talk to players. Paul has the respect of the players, no question."

Molitor finished third in the balloting for the AL Manager of the Year Award in 2015, including receiving two first-place votes, after leading the Twins to an 83-win season that had them in AL Wild Card contention until the second-to-last day of the season. But the Twins started the next year 0-9 en route to a Major League-worst 59-103 record. Molitor's career record is 227-259.

"We're looking forward to the next chapter more than the first," Molitor said. "I think we're all excited about the dynamic of the three of us working together."

Rhett Bollinger has covered the Twins for since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.