MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins filled their hole at shortstop on Thursday, signing free agent Adam Everett to a one-year contract worth $2.8 million plus incentives.

The signing came one day after Everett was non-tendered by the Astros. Everett lost his job Wednesday when the Astros acquired shortstop Miguel Tejada from the Orioles.

Leaving the only team that he has played for certainly made Wednesday difficult for Everett. But it was an aggressive pursuit by the Twins and the chance to be their starting shortstop that had Everett feeling quite optimistic about his situation Thursday.

"They showed a lot of interest and I feel like I have a good opportunity there," Everett said when reached by cell phone Thursday morning. "It seems like a great organization with a great group of guys. I'm excited about getting the opportunity."

Considered to be one of the best defensive shortstops in the game, Everett is not known for his offense. He holds a .248 career batting average and a .299 career on-base percentage.

Everett, who turns 31 on Feb. 2, saw his average fall to .239 in 2006, and he batted .232 in 66 games with the Astros last season. He missed a little over three months after fracturing his right leg June 14. 

Offense may not be Everett's specialty, but the Twins value defense. Despite never winning a Gold Glove, Everett had a .990 fielding percentage in 2006, the fourth best mark recorded by a National League shortstop.

"I think any increase in offense would be a plus for us," Twins general manager Bill Smith said of Everett. "I think he's going to bring tremendous defense to this position. He played over 150 games for the Astros in each of the two years before this year, when he broke his leg. He gives us a durable player who brings great defense as well."

The Twins have been seeking a starting shortstop since trading away Jason Bartlett as part of the six-player trade with the Rays for Delmon Young on Nov. 28. The Twins had options for the spot in Nick Punto, Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla, but the expectation now is that Everett will be the starter.

Hot Stove

Second base and third base remain unsettled, but Smith said he feels Punto and Harris can be intermixed at the two positions. Both can play third base, but the Twins are still looking at other options.

So while the Twins continue to try to improve their lineup and bounce back from a rough 2007 season, Everett will be looking to make a comeback of his own next year.

"I think this will be a chance to get a clean fresh start, going to the American League and just starting over," Everett said. "Just to have that opportunity, I'm excited. I can't remember the last time when I was this excited about a season."