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Twins, Mauer Begin Contract Negotiations

The Twins have opened contract negotiations with Joe Mauer. Manager Ron Gardenhire told USA Today's Bob Nightengale that talks couldn't be going better with the catcher. Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, confirmed to Jon Heyman of SI.com that talks have begun, but cautions that "nothing is imminent." (Both links go to Twitter).

Mauer will hit free agency after this season if the Twins don't lock him up long-term. That's easier said than done for a small-market team, especially when we're talking about one of the best players in the world. Mauer doesn't turn 27 until April, but he already has three batting titles, two Gold Gloves and an MVP to his name. 

He led the league in batting average, OBP and SLG last year, maintaining his reputation as a strong defender and helping his club make the playoffs. He's under contract for $12.5MM this year, and he'll have the chance to sign for considerably more than $100MM if he hits the open market. 

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