OK, so maybe the Twins and Mauer aren't talking yet

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Yesterday the Pioneer Press reported that contract talks between the Twins and Joe Mauer had begun.

Joe Mauer, on the phone to the Star-Tribune last night: “I’ve been thinking about things like that, but to tell you the truth, we haven’t really started [negotiating with the Twins].”

I suppose we could parse the definition of the word “really” here, but if I had to guess I’d say that the Pioneer Press overstated things.  This is the sort of stuff that happens during the crazy season (i.e. hot stove time). 

All we know for sure right now is what Aaron said yesterday: The Twins say they want to keep Mauer, but they haven’t gone all out to pay their own top dollar since Kirby Puckett roamed the Earth. And that was when top dollar was $3 million a year.

Ultimately this process rests in Joe Mauer’s hands. Nothing will happen until he decides whether or not he’s going to shoot for the biggest possible bucks or, alternatively, do something creative and likely below market to stay in Minnesota.

I think he’ll ultimately do the latter, but right now there’s nothin’ really new. 

Cubs won’t make Kyle Schwarber available in trade talks

Kyle Schwarber
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Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that the Cubs won’t deal Kyle Schwarber this winter, despite multiple inquires from teams around the league. Schwarber is approaching his first year of arbitration and will remain under team control for another three seasons before reaching free agency in 2022.

The decision comes on the heels of one of the strongest seasons of the 25-year-old outfielder’s short career. Over 137 games and 510 PA for the Cubs, he proved a passable defender in left field and batted .238/.356/.467 with 26 home runs, an .823 OPS, and 3.2 fWAR in 2018. He also led the National League in intentional walks, with 20, and bumped up his total walks from 59 in 2017 to 78.

Despite his marked improvements from previous years, Schwarber’s performance still left something to be desired — specifically against left-handed pitchers, who held the slugger to a paltry .224/.352/.303 with four extra-base hits across 91 PA. Still, it’s evident the Cubs feel Schwarber is capable of strengthening his splits in the years to come, and they might stand to get more value from him on the field than they would in a trade this offseason.

Of course, that’s not to say the Cubs intend to pass the Winter Meetings in total silence, especially as they’ll be seeking bullpen and catching depth in advance of their 2019 run at the division title. As club president Theo Epstein remarked last week, “We’re certainly open and active in trade talks with a lot of deals that usually don’t come to fruition. So, we may make some trades. We could make big ones that transform the roster. We may make smaller complementary ones. But there’s certain things we’d like to accomplish.”