Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twins Sign Joe Mauer Through 2018

The news Sunday about Minnesota Twins closer Joe Nathan sure wasn't very good. While Nathan has to undergo season-killing elbow surgery, the day of Twins news was not done, and it wasn't all bad.

A big priority for the front office this spring has been to get catcher Joe Mauer locked up on a long-term deal. He was scheduled to become a free agent after the 2010 season, and the possibility of Mauer leaving Minnesota was akin to armageddon for team officials.

After some rumors earlier in the spring proved to be unfounded, the deal was made official Sunday afternoon.

The great Joe Christensen has more.

Mauer, 26, will make $23 million each year from 2011 to 2018. The deal includes a full no-trade clause.

He is under contract for $12.5 million this year in the final year of a four-year, $33 million deal. Mauer, a three-time batting champion and reigning American League Most Valuable Player, could have become a free agent after the season.

The team plans to make the signing official on Monday at a press conference in Fort Myers, starting at 6 p.m.

Obviously, this is wonderful news for the Twins and their fans. Mauer is a cornerstone player, highly popular because 1) he's from the Twin Cities, and 2) he's really freaking good.

I've seen so many guys flame out from crouching too much in their careers, and I'm worried that Mauer won't last behind the plate for the full eight years of this deal. However, even if the team has to eventually move him to first base, third base, the outfield, or designated hitter, he will be worth nearly every penny because he will not stop being a very popular part of the Twins franchise.

On a day that started with awful -- though not totally unexpected -- news on Nathan, it ends with reason for the team's supporters to celebrate. With a new ballpark almost ready to open, Twins fans should be in full celebration mode until Opening Day.

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