The Twins have the dough to sign Mauer. They should do it ASAP.

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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)

Yankees re-sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

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The Yankees have re-signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, George A. King III of the New York Post reports. Niese was released on Sunday, but he’ll stick around and provide rotation depth for the Yankees.

Niese had knee surgery last August and got a late start to spring training as a result. In six spring appearances lasting an inning each, the lefty gave up three earned runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts.

Niese, a veteran of nine seasons, put up an aggregate 5.50 ERA with an 88/47 K/BB ratio in 121 innings last season between the Pirates and Mets.

Orioles acquire Alec Asher from the Phillies

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The Phillies announced on Tuesday that the club traded pitcher Alec Asher to the Orioles for a player to be named later.

Asher, 25, was the victim of a roster crunch. He was not going to make the 25-man roster and the starting rotation at Triple-A Lehigh Valley was already full. The Phillies acquired him from the Rangers in the July 2015 Cole Hamels trade.

Asher had good results in 27 2/3 innings in the big leagues last year, posting a 2.28 ERA with a 13/4 K/BB ratio. While it didn’t show in those stats, the right-hander sometimes struggles with command and he doesn’t miss bats often enough to make up for it. The Orioles, however, are happy to add some pitching depth.