Superstar catcher Joe Mauer and the Twins have been engaging in contract talks over the past several days, and there is some optimism a deal can be completed in the coming days, though nothing is set yet.
The discussions are believed to revolve around a seven- or eight-year deal in excess of $20 million per year, according to people familiar with the negotiations. It's thought Mark Teixeira's $180 million, eight-year deal has surfaced as a comparable contract.
One TV report out of Minnesota suggested the sides had already agreed on a 10-year deal. But while baseball sources suggest there is a positive tenor surrounding the talks, there is no evidence yet that a deal has been completed.
Reports of talks started to leak out when Twins GM Bill Smith was spotted having lunch with Mauer's agent Ron Shapiro in Minneapolis recently. Shapiro was the agent for Twins great Kirby Puckett and Orioles icon Cal Ripken Jr., both of whom played their entire careers in one city.
Mauer, who led the American League with a .365 batting average, .444 on-base percentage and .587 slugging percentage, is eligible for free agency after the 2010 season. The Yankees and Red Sox are among the obvious suitors for the superstar catcher, as current Boston catcher Victor Martinez is eligible for free agency after this season and Jorge Posada will be easing into a DH role for New York in the coming years.
Mauer, only 26, is a product of St. Paul, and his grandparents attend all Twins home games. The Twins rightly view him as their franchise player, and their revenues are expected to increase markedly as they start play in their new ballpark this season.