At the ripe old age of 26, Joe Mauer now has an AL Most Valuable Player award to add to a jam-packed trophy case that already holds three batting titles, three Silver Sluggers and two Gold Gloves.

So just what else can the Minnesota Twins catcher do to top that?

"World Series," Mauer quickly answered. "That's where I want to be."

Now Minnesota is hoping the St. Paul native accomplishes that final goal as a member of his hometown team. Mauer will make $12.5 million next season in the final year of a four-year, $33 million deal he signed in 2007.

After becoming the first AL player to lead the league in batting average (.365), on-base percentage (.444) and slugging percentage (.587) since George Brett in 1980, Mauer received 27 of 28 first-place votes and 387 points in MVP balloting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America on Monday.

He is the second catcher to win the AL MVP in 33 years and should be in line for a hefty raise soon.

Yankees teammates Mark Teixeira (225 points) and Derek Jeter (193) followed. Detroit's Miguel Cabrera drew the other first-place vote and was fourth with 171 points.

The Twins are expected to try to negotiate a long-term extension for Mauer this winter. Mauer says his focus is not on the size of the check, but on the lineup around him. The Twins have moved quickly this offseason to show him they're serious about improving, trading for Milwaukee shortstop J.J. Hardy to bolster the middle infield.

"That's one of our challenges," general manager Bill Smith said. "We've got to get this club to the point where we can get past the Yankees or whoever we play in the first round. We had a taste of it the first year in 2002 and since then we've gotten knocked out in the first round a couple times."

The Twins have been eliminated in the first round of the playoffs in four straight appearances since advancing to the ALCS in 2002. With two MVPs on the roster, including 2006 winner Justin Morneau, the Twins know the window is open now as they prepare to move into Target Field next season.

"We're going to do everything we can to keep him here as a Minnesota Twin," Morneau said. "The biggest thing now isn't the money. It's going to be whether or not he feels like we can win every day."

With Mauer in the lineup, the Twins always have that chance. After missing all of spring training and the first month of the season with a back injury, Mauer's impact was immediate when he joined the team in May.

He homered on his first swing of the season and went on to set a major league record for highest batting average by a catcher and become the first repeat batting champion since Nomar Garciaparra in 1999-00.

"He's a once-in-a-lifetime type of player," Smith said.

When Morneau went down with a back injury in September, Mauer was even better. He batted .378, helping the Twins overtake Detroit for their fifth AL Central title of the decade. He finished with a career-high 28 homers and 96 RBIs and had more walks (76) than strikeouts (63).

"Coming into the season, my biggest goal personally was just to stay on the field," Mauer said. "To be sitting here today as the MVP is more than I ever could have imagined."

Ivan Rodriguez in 1999 had been the only catcher since Thurman Munson in 1976 to win the AL MVP. The other catchers to win in the AL were Mickey Cochrane (1934), Yogi Berra (1951 and 1954-55) and Elston Howard (1963). NL catchers to win were Gabby Hartnett (1935), Ernie Lombardi (1938), Roy Campanella (1951, 1953 and 1955) and Johnny Bench (1970 and 1972).

In addition to Mauer and Morneau, other Twins to win were Zoilo Versalles (1965), Harmon Killebrew (1969) and Rod Carew (1977).

Mauer receives a $100,000 bonus for winning the award, and Cabrera gets $200,000 for finishing fourth. Cabrera's first-place vote came from Keizo Konishi of Kyodo News, a member of the Seattle chapter.

Teixeira led the AL with 122 RBIs and tied for first with 39 homers. Jeter was second to Morneau in the 2006 voting and finished third behind Juan Gonzalez and Garciaparra in 1998.

The NL MVP is to be announced Tuesday, and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals is favored to repeat.

For now, Mauer does not seem too concerned with his contract status. He has never been one to make bombastic public statements and that didn't change on Monday.

"I've always said it will happen when it needs to happen and I truly believe that," he said. "I'm not the kind of guy that, you know, says by this date we need to have something done."


AP Sports Writer Ronald Blum in New York contributed to this report.