Seriously, it's about time.

The Minnesota Twins have finally locked up Joe Mauer to the tune of $184 million through the 2018 season.  The three-time batting champion and reigning American League MVP agreed Sunday to the richest catcher's contract in the history of the game, which averages out to be $23 million a season.  The deal includes a no-trade clause and passes up Justin Morneau's six-year, $80 million contract, which ends in 2013, as the most money the club has ever dished out.

The Twins have scheduled a press conference set for Monday night in Fort Myers, where they will officially announce the good news.

Now for the bad news.  Following a painful, 10-minute game of catch with pitching coach Rick Anderson on Saturday, Joe Nathan has elected to undergo Tommy John surgery, which will exclude him from the 2010 season and beyond.  This brings up many questions, including those surrounding his future in baseball: will Joe Nate be able to make a comeback at the age of 37, and after a major surgery no less?

Then, of course, there are the possible candidates for the wide-open closer spot.  There's the giant, tattooed, man-eater Jon Rauch, who spent some time shutting the door for the Washington Nationals... who sucked at baseball.  A lot.  In fact, it's sort of surprising Rauch was given any save chances at all, but managed 17 in 22 chances for them in 2008.

Then there's Francisco Liriano, whose ERA hovers around 2.70 through his first 30 pitches.  After that, he pretty much falls apart.  However, he's a new man with a new arm, so this season may be a different story.

Pat Neshek is another option, but he's been so great as a set-up man you hate to see that change.  The team could always mix it up within, or look outside the club for help, as well.

We've discussed this before, but now that the Twins are faced with the reality of not having their All-Star closer to depend on, who do you think should take the reigns?  Also, how pumped are you that we can stop wondering when Mauer will sign his extension?

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