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Twins lock up Mauer with $184 million deal

Closer Nathan is lost for season

Associated Press / March 22, 2010

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Joe Mauer is staying home.

The American League MVP agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension with Minnesota yesterday that includes a full no-trade clause, a massive deal that shows the Twins are no longer spending like a small-market club.

The deal covers the 2011-2018 seasons and is the fourth largest — both in total value and average salary — in major league history. Starting next season, the All-Star catcher will make $23 million a year.

The agreement came just hours after the Twins received bad news. They learned they would be without the services of closer Joe Nathan for the 2010 season because of a right elbow injury that will require surgery. Nathan, who leads the major leagues with 246 saves since 2004, shut it down after playing catch with pitching coach Rick Anderson for 10 minutes.

Nathan, 35, hopes to have Tommy John surgery within two weeks to repair the torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. He was injured March 6 during a 20-pitch outing in a spring training game against the Red Sox.

As for Mauer’s new contract, the team scheduled a news conference for 7 p.m. today at the team’s spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. Mauer, 26, who has won three AL batting titles and is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game, was entering the final year of his current contract.

The $184 million total worth is fourth behind two deals signed by Alex Rodriguez — the $275 million deal with the Yankees signed in 2007 and a $252 million contract signed with Texas in 2000 — and Derek Jeter’s $189 million deal signed with the Yankees in 2001 that expires after this season.

Mauer, the St. Paul native, was the No. 1 overall pick by the Twins in 2001 and quickly emerged as a fan favorite. The 6-foot-5-inch former star quarterback at Cretin Derham-Hall High School receives marriage proposals by the dozens at every home game.

Last year, after missing the first month of the season with a back injury, Mauer hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs to help the Twins win the AL Central division.

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