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 White Sox have reportedly picked up first baseman Yonder Alonso from the Indians, according to Stadium. The return for Alonso is expected to be nothing more flashy than a “fringe prospect,” though the minutiae of the deal is still pending a formal announcement from both teams.
Alonso, 31, inked a two-year deal with the Indians during the 2017 offseason. His first campaign with the club yielded a modest .250/.317/.421 batting line, 23 home runs, .738 OPS and 0.7 fWAR in 574 PA. The real boon for the White Sox may not be a passable veteran bat, however, but something more intangible — like Alonso’s clout with his brother-in-law and highly-coveted free agent slugger, Manny Machado.
While Alonso’s 2018 output represented a significant decline from the career-best numbers he posted in 2017, he’s still a solid contributor at the plate and, more importantly, slated to remain under team control for the next two years with just $8 million owed in 2019 and a $9 million option in 2020. As MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince notes, the $17 million the Indians just erased from their payroll should give them enough room to accommodate the contracts for right-handers Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber — a bonus regardless of what they happen to get in the trade.