The feeling around much of baseball is that there's no way that Joe Mauer would leave his hometown team. The news that broke late Monday night, however, is an indication that Mauer means business.

The American League MVP is entering the final season of his four-year, $33 million contract. If the Twins want to keep him from hitting the free-agent market at the conclusion of next season, they're going to have to do so before the 2010 season begins, according to a Yahoo report.

A source close to Mauer told Yahoo that Mauer will end contract negotiations if a conclusion is not reached by the end of spring training. Twins GM Bill Smith and Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, had no comment for Yahoo.

Should Mauer hit free agency, he would be in line for one of the largest contracts in history. The catcher is a career .327 hitter, and he's coming off a season in which he hit 28 home runs and drove in 96 runs. According to the report, however, money isn't the only factor for Mauer.

"Mauer’s connection with Minnesota runs deep, the source said, but he wants to compete for a championship, an opportunity afforded more easily by deep-pocketed franchises than even the best low-revenue franchise in baseball, Minnesota," the report says. "Should he decide to stay in Minneapolis, Mauer will do so understanding that he’s ceding tens of millions of dollars, and that even a discounted salary — say, $20 million a year — could hinder the team … At the same time, Mauer would enjoy playing the rest of his career in front of a hometown crowd and bringing the Twins their first championship since 1991, when he was 8 years old."