Updated: February 1st, 2011 12:23am
Mackey: History tells us contract extensions could be coming

Mackey: History tells us contract extensions could be coming

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by Phil Mackey

With arbitration hearings set to begin this week throughout Major League Baseball, the Minnesota Twins still have two outstanding cases -- outfielder Delmon Young and starting pitcher Francisco Liriano.

Young wants $6.2 million, while the Twins offered $4.6 million. Liriano asked for $5 million, and the Twins filed for $3.6 million.

These types of gaps between team and player are 100% common, and the Twins usually find a way to settle on middle ground.

Priority number one from the club's standpoint is reaching one-year deals with both players without having to stand in front of an arbitrator -- something the Twins have done only four times in the last decade (once each with Johan Santana and Matt Lawton, and twice with Kyle Lohse).

That process leads to awkwardness and mudslinging more often than not.

After reaching those one-year deals -- if history is any indication -- general manager Bill Smith and company will likely turn their attention toward potential long-term contract extensions.

For the Twins, the period between late January and late March might as well be named after John Hancock.

Since the beginning of 2004, the Twins have handed out 16 total contract extensions to players already under team control, and 13 of those came between January 19 and March 30.

That includes Joe Mauer, Denard Span and Nick Blackburn, who all inked extensions in March, 2010.

March 21, 2010: Joe Mauer -- 8 years, $184 million
March 13, 2010: Denard Span -- 5 years, $16.5 million
March 7, 2010: Nick Blackburn -- 4 years, $14 million
January 19, 2010: Brendan Harris -- 2 years, $3.1 million
March 7, 2009: Scott Baker -- 4 years, $15.25 million
March 24, 2008: Joe Nathan -- 4 years, $47 million
January 25, 2008: Justin Morneau -- 6 years, $80 million
January 25, 2008: Michael Cuddyer -- 3 years, $24 million
February 1, 2007: Joe Mauer -- 4 years, $33 million
February 1, 2007: Jesse Crain -- 3 years, $3.25 million
August 1, 2006: Dennys Reyes -- 2 years, $2 million
March 1, 2005: Joe Nathan -- 2 years, $10 million
February 1, 2005: Johan Santana -- 4 years, $39.75 million
January 1, 2005: Carlos Silva -- 2 years, $5.05 million
January 1, 2005: J.C. Romero -- 2 years, $3.7 million
March 1, 2004: Joe Nathan -- 2 years, $2.54 million

As of this week, there have been very few, if any, rumblings about long-term deals for either Young or Liriano -- or Cuddyer, for that matter, who enters the final year of his three-year contract -- but that's not necessarily out of the ordinary. The Twins front office generally does not discuss contract extensions, on or off the record.

Ignore the silence.

While the Twins are currently up against the glass ceiling for payroll this season, the contracts of Joe Nathan ($11.2 million), Cuddyer ($10.5 million), Matt Capps ($7.1 million), Jason Kubel ($5.2 million) and Jim Thome ($3 million) are all set to expire after 2011.

The Twins have some room to play with financially, and any extensions to Young, Liriano and/or Cuddyer likely wouldn't kick in until 2012.

So stay tuned.

Phil Mackey is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd