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. 

Royals sign Drew Storen to minor league deal

Drew Storen
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The Royals are in agreement with right-handed reliever Drew Storen on a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Per Jon Heyman of MLB Network, the deal is worth $1.25 million if the veteran righty breaks camp with the club this spring. Additional, albeit unspecified incentives will be included in the contract as well.

Storen, 31, is coming off of a protracted absence from any MLB duties. After inking a one-year deal with the Reds in 2017, he sustained a right elbow sprain toward the end of the year and underwent Tommy John surgery that October. He was effectively decommissioned for the club’s entire 2018 run and generated little interest around the league this winter, perhaps due in part to the uninspired 4.45 ERA, 3.8 BB/9, 7.9 SO/9, and career-low -0.2 fWAR he posted across 54 2/3 innings during his last healthy season.

While it’s not immediately clear what kind of performance the Royals can expect from Storen in spring training, they’re not exactly in a position to be choosy. Their bullpen ranked dead last among all MLB teams with a collective 5.04 ERA, 4.85 FIP, and -2.2 fWAR last year, and still appears to be in a state of flux as they approach Opening Day. Skipper Ned Yost told reporters Wednesday that he intends to eschew the traditional closer appointment in 2019 and will instead utilize a combination of right-handers Wily Peralta and Brad Boxberger, lefty Tim Hill, and various others as he tackles high-leverage situations in the future.