-- Jim N., White Bear Lake, Minn.
-- Joe H., Sioux Falls, S.D. There is no doubt that signing Mauer to a contract extension is high on the priority list for the Twins this winter. Everything that I've heard from people within the organization is that the club is committed to getting a deal in place with Mauer. And yes, they are well aware of what it will likely cost to lock up the All-Star catcher. For the Twins, the key will be structuring the deal so that they can continue to add talent around Mauer in the coming seasons to keep the club competitive, as he's made it clear that winning is high on his priority list.
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As Mauer packed up his locker the day after the season ended, he said that he wasn't in a hurry to get a deal done right now. The catcher planned to meet with his agent, Ron Shapiro, to discuss a possible contract, but he said he would wait a few weeks after the season ended to do so. Don't take Mauer's patience to mean that the catcher isn't interested in signing an extension. He just believes that things will work themselves out and that there isn't a need to rush to get something done right away. There is one other thing to keep in mind for Twins fans who are already worried about the possibility of Mauer leaving after the 2010 season. Shapiro was also the agent of Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken Jr. -- two guys who spent their entire careers with one team.How serious are the Twins about resigning Orlando Cabrera?
-- Michael E., Winnipeg, Canada Cabrera is one of the Twins' impending free agents that could be back for the 2010 season. Of course that will depend on how much money Cabrera could demand on the open market this winter. The shortstop has already expressed strong interest in returning and the Twins appreciated the winning attitude and veteran experience he brought to the club. The Twins infield is largely unsettled for the 2010 season with first base being the only position that's officially set. The club will have Nick Punto back for an infield spot, in addition to having options in Matt Tolbert, Brendan Harris and Alexi Casilla. But the club will explore other possible upgrades outside the organization and Cabrera might be a fit again -- if it's for the right price. What do you think the Twins' 2010 lineup will look like?
-- Jay F., Raleigh, N.C. Predicting a lineup right now is a difficult task due to the many changes that can take place over an offseason. But if I had to go with the Twins current 40-man roster -- excluding their five impending free agents -- here is the lineup that would seem to fit right now: Denard Span CF, Joe Mauer C, Justin Morneau 1B, Jason Kubel DH, Michael Cuddyer RF, Delmon Young LF, Matt Tolbert 3B, Alexi Casilla 2B, Nick Punto SS. That lineup doesn't include third baseman Danny Valencia since he's not currently on the 40-man, although he'll be added to it this offseason. The organization feels strongly that Valencia is its third baseman of the future but he didn't earn a September callup. So the club will have to see in Spring Training if he's ready to fill the spot right away for 2010. But again, that's the lineup that might be used if they were playing today and there are bound to be changes before Opening Day. With the Twins moving to the new ballpark, will the Metrodome still be used as a baseball facility for college and high school games?
-- Jim S., Brisbane, Australia Even though the Metrodome will no longer host Major League baseball, it still will be used as a baseball facility. Some high school baseball games will be held in the dome and the University of Minnesota Gophers will also continue to play games there. As far as the Twins' involvement with the Dome, there is one event that will still take place under the Teflon roof -- TwinsFest. The Twins decided it was a perfect venue to hold the winter event so they'll continue to have it there for the foreseeable future. Who are the Twins looking at in terms of free agents? Obviously they will focus on the infield. Is there anyone they are looking at or beginning to court?
-- Jacob H., St. Paul For fans, the fun of the winter Hot Stove is to create trade scenarios and imagine the type of high-quality talent that their team might acquire for the next season. But right now it's a little early to start talking about which free agents the Twins might be targeting. That's because the Hot Stove won't really get going until the free agency filing period begins -- which will last for 15 days after the World Series ends. The Twins went through all of the impending free agents during their organizational meetings in Fort Myers, Fla., a little over a week ago. Of course they haven't shared which free agents might have been of interest to them during those discussions or which players in other organizations the club feels might fit its needs. But it's no secret that the infield is one of the areas the club could look to upgrade, as well as perhaps trying to add a veteran starting pitcher. We'll get a better idea of who might be in the club's sights once free agency truly gets under way. So for now, it's kind of a waiting game until the Hot Stove really starts simmering.
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less