Twins, Mauer making progress in long-term talks

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According to ESPN.com’s Buster Olney, there are “strong indications” that the Twins and catcher Joe Mauer are “gathering momentum” toward a long-term contract extension.

Mauer’s agent, Ron Shapiro, was spotted near the Twins’ spring training facility on Sunday afternoon and Olney has been picking up on hints of progress.  The 26-year-old catcher, widely regarded as one of the best all-around players in the league, is thought to be seeking a contract worth between $20 million-$25 million annually. 

Mauer posted an incredible .365/.444/.587 batting line last season while collecting 28 homers, 94 runs, 30 doubles and 96 RBI in 138 games.  He’s a native of St. Paul, Minnesota, a neighboring city to Minneapolis, but a hometown discount probably won’t be in the cards.  It’s Shaprio’s job to get the highest possible contract for his client and you can bet he’s doing his darnedest to pull that off.  Mauer has said previously that he would prefer to avoid the distractions of in-season negotiations, so Opening Day is serving as a loose deadline in the ongoing talks.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics