5U: Mauer's millions, Strasburg's ETA, more CoJax hype

Andy Behrens
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When Minnesota drafted Joe Mauer(notes) with the top overall selection in 2001, it was considered by many to be a "signability" pick, because Mark Prior(notes) wasn't interested in going to the Twins. Nine years later, Mauer has claimed three American League batting titles, two Gold Gloves, one MVP award and, as of Sunday, an eight-year, $184 million contract extension.

So he's technically still signable, though the cost has increased modestly. It would be pretty awesome if the Twins signed Prior this week, too, assuming he's relaxed his anti-Minnesota stance. They could then control both players at a total cost of roughly $184.3 million.

By now you're probably aware that the Nationals have sent presumptive ace Stephen Strasburg(notes) and presumptive closer Drew Storen(notes) to minor league camp. Those two are expected to open the season at Double-A. Strasburg's spring line wasn't too shabby: 9.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 12 K.

For a thorough review of the financial impact of Washington's decision – and an excellent lesson in baseball econ – we refer you to Dave Sheinin over at Nationals Journal. Here's his ETA on Strasburg:

…you may want to get your tickets now for the June 4-6 weekend series at Nationals Park against the Cincinnati Reds.

If Strasburg and Aroldis Chapman(notes) oppose each other in that series, this blog will collapse into an infinitely dense singularity. Or we'll be forced to host a live chat. Either way, it will be a very special event.

I've been routinely drafting Florida first baseman Gaby Sanchez(notes) as a late-round flier, so all these Mike Lowell(notes)-to-the-Fish rumblings are bothersome. Michael Silverman offered a fresh pile of Lowell rumors over at the Boston Herald on Sunday. Here's the key sentence:

There are four teams to keep an eye on as possible landing spots for Lowell: the Astros, Rangers, Marlins and Twins.

You'd think the Marlins would be perfectly happy with what they've seen from Sanchez this spring. The 26-year-old is hitting .387/.429/.516 thus far, and he's delivered a .302/.392/.485 career line in the minor leagues. Last year, Sanchez hit 16 homers in 318 Triple-A at-bats. He's as ready now as he's ever going to be.

If you've been paying attention at all during spring training, then Conor Jackson(notes) is already on your (deep league) fantasy radar. He's hitting .394/.500/.697 with two homers and a stolen base through 13 games. The latest word from the D-backs is that Jackson is in the mix to bat leadoff in 2010. This via the Arizona Republic:

Manager A.J. Hinch sounded intrigued by the experiment after Sunday's 4-3 loss to the Giants, in which he flipped-flopped Jackson and Stephen Drew(notes) in the top two spots in the batting order.

"It makes our lineup pretty interesting," Hinch said. "As much as (Jackson) gets on base, if I have a left-hander hitting behind him, he's got the hole open. Conor will run. Even though he doesn't have blazing speed he's a very good base-runner. It's possible."

Jackson, you'll recall, was shelved for much of the 2009 season due to a bout with Valley Fever.

Matt Holliday(notes) (ribs) returns to the lineup for St. Louis on Monday, but Albert Pujols(notes) is out due to continuing back issues:

A Cardinals official said Pujols was scratched from the lineup so that he could have his back examined after some stiffness this morning. Pujols missed a stretch of games with back stiffness earlier this spring, and he had several visits to a chiropractor for adjustments.

If you're at all worried about this back situation – and I'm now speaking directly to Paul Singman – then maybe I'm willing to take Albert off your hands.

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