Joe Mauer, Twins begin contract extension talks

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Charley Walters of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that Joe Mauer and the Twins “have begun talking about a new deal.”
Walters offers no real details beyond that, and mentions nothing about the money or contract length being discussed, but does have a few quotes from team president Jerry Bell:

I feel good about it because I think he wants to stay here, and we sure want him to be here and all of his teammates want him to be here. We’ll see. I’m past the point where I get nervous about these things. It’ll get worked out. They usually do. We usually are able to work something out with players who we really want to keep.

I don’t think you need to characterize confident or not confident. I’m confident that we will have a good negotiation. To say I’m confident of the outcome, I don’t know. He has a good agent. We’ve done deals with him before.

Bell’s statement that “we usually are able to work something out with players who we really want to keep” is interesting in light of the Twins losing Torii Hunter to free agency and trading Johan Santana to the Mets. Both players were hugely valuable and immensely popular in Minnesota, yet rightly or wrongly the Twins made no legitimate effort to retain either of them.
Mauer, who figures to be named AL MVP later this month, will earn $12.5 million next season before becoming eligible for free agency. Ultimately if he wants to sign the largest possible contract the Twins are highly unlikely to win a bidding war on the open market, but the hope in Minnesota is that the St. Paul native will be content to sign a huge deal while still leaving some money on the table.

Padres announce Pat Murphy won’t return as manager in 2016

Pat Murphy
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Per Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, the Padres have announced that interim manager Pat Murphy won’t return as the team’s manager in 2016. Haudricourt adds that Brewres manager Craig Counsell tried to get Murphy on his staff, and says to look for Murphy to join the Brewers for the 2016 season.

Murphy led the Padres to a 42-53 record after Bud Black was fired in June. He had previously managed for two years with Single-A Eugene in 2011-12, and at Triple-A Tucson and El Paso in 2013-14.

Former major leaguer Phil Nevin is a candidate for the Padres’ vacant managing position, according to Scott Miller of Bleacher Report.

Royals clinch home field advantage, best record in the American League

Lorenzo Cain
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With a 6-1 win over the Twins in Sunday’s season finale, the Royals clinched the best record in the American League, which nets them home field advantage in the ALDS and ALCS. The Royals stand at 95-67 while the Blue Jays, who lost on Sunday, finish at 93-69.

95-67 is the Royals’ best record since finishing 97-65 in 1980, when they lost the World Series to the Phillies. Their division title is their first since 1985.

In the ALDS, which starts on Thursday, the Royals will host the winner of the AL Wild Card game between the Astros and Yankees. They are looking to avenge last year’s World Series loss, in seven games, to the Giants. The Blue Jays will host the Rangers in the other ALDS series.