For the past six months (and probably beyond that, for some), the focus of Minnesota Twins fans has been solely concentrated on a Joe Mauer contract extension.
Now that Mauer has a new eight-year, $184 million extension that will keep him in a Twins uniform through 2018, what can Twins fans do to divert themselves from on-field activity?
Well, the Twins organization doesn’t face any issue close to what the Mauer one was. And with Mauer locked up, the Twins know their lineup will include Mauer, Justin Morneau and Denard Span for at least the next four seasons. Morneau is signed through 2013 and Span recently got a deal that will keep him with the Twins until at least 2014 (there’s a club option for 2015).
But here’s a few off-the-field items worth keeping an eye on:
- The Twins still need a closer. Joe Nathan made it official that he will miss the entire 2010 season, and there’s reason to think he could miss part of the 2011 season as well. You just never know with Tommy John surgery.
- Upcoming free agents include Orlando Hudson after this season and Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer and J.J. Hardy after the 2011 season. Nothing will likely happen with Hudson and Hardy, since they’ve yet to play a single game in a Twins uniform. Cuddyer and Kubel are the ones that will be tackled next, but it’s doubtful anything will happen until the next offseason. Kubel would be 29 when his contract expires after the 2011 season, while Cuddyer would be 32. That should give you an idea who I think is most important for the Twins to keep.
- Does the Mauer extension make catching prospect Wilson Ramos expendable? My guess is the Twins would consider it, though Ron Gardenhire has reportedly latched onto Ramos and wants him to back up Mauer this season while Jose Morales is injured. Ramos might be someone that could coax the San Diego Padres in trading closer Heath Bell to the Twins.
Here’s a few more Mauer links:
- I wrote a column for Monday’s editions of The Forum gushing over the Mauer signing.
- ESPN’s Rob Neyer gives his take on the Mauer extension.
- Aaron Gleeman acknowledges the risks involved, but he says it’s a good deal for the Twins. He agrees with my take that Mauer’s contract shouldn’t stop the Twins from competing because he’ll make so much money. Regardless of the deal, an inability to develop young players is the only thing that will stop the Twins from competing.
- Boston Red Sox catcher Victor Martinez, who now will be the premier catching free agent on the market after this season, says Mauer deserves every penny.
- Boston Red Sox manager Terry Francona says the extension is good for the game of baseball.
- Want to know how New York Yankees fans are taking the news? It’s worth reading.