Posted by: Larry Smith Jr. | March 28, 2010

Mauer Power: Twins Extend Star Catcher

Seven days ago, the Twins got it done.   After handing out deals to Nick Blackburn and Denard Span during this off-season, they scored the big prize last Sunday when they finally completed a deal with the almost certain future Hall of Fame Catcher Joe Mauer.

In so doing they’ve retained the most important player in the recent history of their franchise who may well retire as the most important player in the total history of their franchise.   Yes, this same franchise that has seen the likes of Harmon Killebrew, Tony Oliva, and Kirby Puckett.   This signing is good for the Minnesota Twins and great for the game of baseball.    It keeps a local star with his original team, allowing the two to build a mutual and symbiotic brand.   It’s a victory for a middle market team that isn’t too far removed from being close to folding up shop entirely.    And finally, it keeps a player who has won three batting titles and an MVP award before the age of 27 put for what is likely to be the remainder of his most productive years.

The deal actually does not include the 2010 season — The entirety of the eight years begins in 2011, running through 2018, which is difficult to fathom.  Miguel Cabrera’s contract — Also eight years at the time of signing — Was my standard bearer for “contracts so long that it is difficult to wrap my head around when they end”, and it will expire three years before the Mauer deal does.   The Mauer deal of course, now becomes the new standard.  For 2010 Mauer will make the $12.5m he was slated to make before, and starting in 2011 he will get a pay bump to $23m, which he will receive every year for the duration for the contract.   It is a huge commitment by the Twins, but it was one that they had to make and one that could not go to a more deserving player.    Given both his age and his position, I would say that there is no player in the Majors that I’d rather build a team around than Mauer, and the Twins have made sure that he isn’t going anywhere.   You break the bank for players like that, and credit goes to them for doing so.

Another effect of this signing is that rumors about it — Or potential Mauer trades — Will not spill over into a season that already has been slightly marred by the injury to closer Joe Nathan.  An injury that still has not removed the Twins from their status as the division favorites in the eyes of many, but that certainly weakened the perception of their grasp on that title.  In all, this is a great day for all except those fans (like myself) of other teams in the American League Central division, which will now have to contend with 18-19 games of Mauer per year over the next nine years.   It will be a small price to pay however, to know that the game is stronger as a result of this deal, and it also will bring order to the baseball universe to know that when you say “Minnesota Twins”, you can match the term with “Joe Mauer”, forever more.

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Responses

  1. If Mauer gets hurt it will definitely become a huge albatross for them, but with a player of his talent, that’s just a risk that you have to take. He’s such a good hitter too, that even when (if?) he declines as a Catcher, he can still be an elite DH or possibly play another field position a la Biggio.

  2. I agree with you completely that this deal is not only good for the Twins, but also good for baseball. It’s nice to see someone, who isn’t even a fan of that franchise, understand the larger pic involved here. Mauer is to Minnesota as Ripkin was to Baltimore, Gwynn to San Diego, and Jeter to New York. On the downside, the Blackburn signing was unnecessary at this point. If Mauer should succomb to injuries, you will hear people say that his contract was is an albatross around the Twins’ necks. But it is the medium-range signings like Blackburn that really cost teams like the Twins in the long-run. So lets hope Mauer has a long and productive career! This new, young generation of stars will help put the Steroid Era behind us, and restore baseball’s image / credibility once again. Excellent post, Bill


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