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)