American League batting champion Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins agreed Sunday to a $33million, four-year contract, avoiding salary arbitration and giving one of the team’s young stars the security of a long-term deal. The 23-year-old catcher hit .347 with 84 RBIs last year to help the Twins rally from a 12 -game deficit to win the ALCentral on the final day of the regular season. He played in his first All-Star Game last summer. “It’s definitely a relief,” Mauer told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “This year was a little bit different going through the arbitration stuff. I’m just happy to get it done.” Selected with the first pick in the 2001 amateur draft out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, Minn., Mauer was eligible for arbitration this winter for the first time. He became the first catcher to lead the majors in batting average and the first AL catcher to win the batting title. “I’m real excited to be in Minnesota for the next four years and that I’ll be playing at home with my family and friends being there,” Mauer said. “I’m excited to be there for the opening of the new stadium.” The deal will keep Mauer with the Twins through at least 2010, the year the team is scheduled to begin playing in a new Minneapolis ballpark. That didn’t mean Mauer gave Minnesota a hometown discount, however. He will get $3.75 million this year, $6.25 million in 2008, $10.5 million in 2009 and $12.5million in 2010. Mauer has additional award bonuses and will get the right to designate three teams each year that he can’t be traded to without his consent. “This is a market deal,” general manager Terry Ryan said. “Don’t worry about that.” Mauer would have been eligible for free agency after the 2009 season. “This is a good day for this organization, and I feel like it’s one of those deals which is going to work for both sides,” Ryan said. “You have to be comfortable with how a player’s going to respond to security. I don’t think there’s any question how Joe’s going to respond to that.” Mauer’s rookie season in 2004 was cut short by a knee injury that raised some questions about how his body could handle the physical demands of his position behind the plate. But he has been fine since. “That’s one of the good things about this situation,” Ryan said. “He is in awful good shape and showed it last year.” Twins pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to spring training in Fort Myers, Fla., by Sunday. Ryan has one more player left in arbitration, rightfielder and cleanup hitter Michael Cuddyer. Braves, Villareal agree to terms: Pitcher Oscar Villareal agreed to a $925,000, one-year contract with the Atlanta Braves, who settled with their only player still in arbitration. The right-hander could make another $100,000 in bonuses based on how many games he starts and finishes. A hearing had been scheduled for Wednesday. Villareal, who made $552,500 last year, asked for a raise to $1.3 million. The Braves countered with an offer of $860,000. Villareal gets three points for each start and one point for every game he finishes. He would receive $25,000 bonuses for reaching 30, 39, 48 and 60points. He pitched 58 games for the Braves last season, all but fourof them in relief. He went 9-1 with a 3.61 ERA. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!