Twins’ president David St. Peter is telling the Pioneer Press that, yes, the money is there:
Joe Mauer, the Twins all-star, Gold Glove winner and batting champion, can become a free agent after next season. Negotiations will begin after this season.
Will the Twins be able to afford Mauer?
“Yeah, we can afford him,” team President Dave St. Peter said.
Is Mauer eager to get a new deal done?
“I haven’t even thought about it,” Mauer said. “I’ve got enough on my plate right now trying to win a ballgame.”
That last quote is the most interesting in that it strongly suggests that Mauer, like a lot of players, is not going to want to be negotiating during the 2010 season. What that means is that, for all practical purposes, the Twins need to extend Mauer this offseason and no later lest (a) distrating and morale-killing trade rumors start flying next summer; or (b) Mauer has the oppotunuty to solicit offers from others next fall.
The smart money still has Mauer staying in his hometown, but if it gets to be spring training and nothing is done, the odds will begin to drop. The Twins don’t need the hassle, the bad P.R. or the spectre of the Red Sox or someone driving up the price. They need to get a long term deal done for Mauer this winter.
(link via MLBTR)
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.