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.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).
Free agent closer Mark Melancon is entertaining at least two offers in the four-year, $60+ million ballpark, reports FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal. The teams thought to be in the running are the Giants and Nationals, with the Giants having a slight edge due to their strong interest in him last summer (per ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick).
Crasnick also said that while the Giants are keeping tabs on the top three free agent closers this winter, the other two being Kenley Jansen and Aroldis Chapman, they’re leaning toward Melancon as a (slightly) more affordable option in the ‘pen. It’s worth noting that Melancon would not cost the Giants a draft pick if they decided to sign him.
Melancon had an outstanding season in 2016, nearly reaching career-best numbers with a 1.64 ERA, 2.42 FIP and 5.42 K/BB rate in 71 1/3 innings split between the Pirates and Nationals’ bullpens. The veteran right-hander earned his third career All-Star distinction after stifling opposing hitters with a 1.23 ERA and 7.9 K/9 rate in the first half, and went on to appear in his fourth consecutive playoff run.
Despite the Giants’ apparent lead in the bidding for Melancon, Rosenthal mentioned a third mystery team who might throw their hat in the ring as well. No clubs have been name-dropped as of yet.