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Mauer talks are still progressing

Mar 15, 2010, 10:30 AM EDT

Ken Rosenthal writes that, despite the fact that things have been quiet on the Joe Mauer front, negotiations are still progressing and that the lack of any public talk about it doesn’t mean that there’s an impasse or anything close to it, as some have suggested.

There was some chatter in the press box at the Phillies-Twins game the other day about how the Twins are finding time to do things like extend Denard Span and Nick Blackburn contracts while Mauer remains in limbo. One thought — and this is my own thinking, not anything I heard — perhaps Mauer has suggested to the Twins that he’d like to see long term commitments to the supporting cast before he goes all-in, lest he find himself the only established player on the team one day a la Adrian Gonzalez or someone.

Other possibility: the Twins are simply trying to give themselves cost certainty with respect to Blackburn and Span on the theory that once they pull the trigger with Mauer, there’s not going to be much room for uncertainty in the arbitration process.

I realize that neither of these are the deepest thoughts in the world, but it seems like some Twins fans’ nerves get a little more frayed every day we get closer to Opening Day without Mauer being signed. My view? Nothing that has happened yet should give anyone cause for concern.

  1. Trevor B - Mar 15, 2010 at 11:46 AM

    The general belief here in Minnesotaland is that Mauer wants to see the Twins make some good, solid, short and long-term improvements to the team before he signs. You can note this with the additions of Thome, O-Hud and even the trade for Hardy to help beef up the infield (if only they’d make Nick Punto give up some of that over-sized contract he got for his “abilities” then we’d have some extra coin to either throw at Mauer or make another quick signing for the bullpen). I would think that Mauer doesn’t want to be the Adrian Gonzalez of Minnesota even though we trump San Diego any day, com’on its like barely eeking 50 degrees right now. :-)

  2. David - Mar 15, 2010 at 12:08 PM

    …perhaps Mauer has suggested to the Twins that he’d like to see long term commitments to the supporting cast before he goes all-in, lest he find himself the only established player on the team one day a la Adrian Gonzalez or someone.
    Other possibility: the Twins are simply trying to give themselves cost certainty with respect to Blackburn and Span on the theory that once they pull the trigger with Mauer, there’s not going to be much room for uncertainty in the arbitration process.

    I think both of these are right. Numerous players (most notably Justin Morneau) have said that, for Mauer, being competitive is more important than making every penny possible. Mauer also has repeatedly said, basically, this will happen when it happens and he doesn’t want to rush it. He also has suggested that he would let the team get its other business in order first before dealing with his contract, which of course makes your other possibility equally plausible. The Star Tribune ran a story about a month ago saying that the Twins are reluctant to free agents beyond one year b/c of Mauer’s pending extension and the unknown costs involved with that. With that, buying out arbitration for two players who might be in line to make decent money in arbitration (Span more-so than Blackburn), it makes sense to me that the Twins would get their complimentary players secured and know their costs, and then deal with Mauer’s contract.

  3. jwb - Mar 15, 2010 at 2:32 PM

    My opinion is that Bill Smith is playing several games at the same time and some of the ones with lower stakes came to successful resolutions more quickly.

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