Roommates Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau of the Twins are expected to receive long-term contract offers this winter that could total $70 million between them.
"That would be nice, but who knows?" Morneau said Tuesday. "I've got to worry about finishing this year first."
Said Mauer: "I haven't even thought about that. All I'm thinking about now is playing."
Market value for each, if they continue at their current pace of production, would be in the $40 million range over five years. The Twins could offer each $35 million for five years, thus buying out their first two years of free-agency eligibility and binding them for at least two years to the team's new ballpark that is to open in 2010 in downtown Minneapolis.
Morneau, 25, and Mauer, 23, being paid $385,000 and $400,000, respectively, this season, are eligible for salary arbitration this winter. First baseman Morneau actually has more earning power because of his run-producing numbers: 25 home runs, 78 runs batted in while hitting .311 after homering Tuesday night against Tampa Bay.
Mauer, an all-star catcher, leads the major leagues in hitting (.376). Mauer's run-producing numbers (seven homers, 47 RBIs) aren't as impressive as those of Morneau, but he possesses nearly priceless intangibles: homegrown with tremendous marketing value to the franchise.
Salary arbitration for Morneau could cost the Twins $3 million for next season; Morneau could win a judgment for $3.25 million, industry experts say.