Joe Mauer on track to return to Twins early next week

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Twins manager Ron Gardenhire told MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger on Tuesday that first baseman Joe Mauer is likely to rejoin the club early next week in Houston after playing in rehab games through the weekend with the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels.

Mauer has been on the disabled list since July 2 with a strained oblique. He’ll be looking to finish the 2014 season on a positive note after batting .271/.342/.353 with two homers and 28 RBI over his first 76 games.

Mauer is owed $23 million per year through 2018.

According to FanGraphs’ free agent values, the 31-year-old has been worth $2.8 million this year.

Blue Jays, Josh Donaldson to table extension talks

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Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays and third baseman Josh Donaldson are tabling extension talks as the two sides weren’t able to build any momentum towards agreement on a new contract.

Donaldson said, “We’re not quite there. That, to me, right now is not the major focus and I’m turning the page.” He added, “I want to play this season and really focus on winning games because, ultimately, our goal is to win a World Series and I don’t want to hinder that at all.” Donaldson also said he expects to hit free agency.

The 32-year-old avoided arbitration with the Blue Jays last month, agreeing on a $23 million salary for the 2018 season. He’s a free agent at season’s end. Last year, the three-time All-Star hit .270/.385/.559 with 33 home runs, 78 RBI, and 65 runs scored in 496 plate appearances. Donaldson missed six weeks in the first half with a calf injury, but was able to return and post terrific numbers, so his health — at least that aspect of it — shouldn’t be a concern going into spring training.

If Donaldson does reach free agency, he’ll join a star-studded group that will likely also include Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, Charlie Blackmon, and A.J. Pollock.