Recently, the Indians secured another large part of their young core by signing Grady Sizemore to a six-year, $23 million contract. It was an unprecendented contract for a 23-year-old player. Sizemore's signing of a long-term contract at a young age follows suit, as the Indians have shortstop Jhonny Peralta (five years, $13 million) and catcher Victor Martinez ($15.5 million for five years) signed to long term contracts as well. Beyond that, they have Travis Hafner and left-hander C.C. Sabathia under contract through 2007 with club options for 2008 and are currently trying to get Cliff Lee under a long-term contract.
The thing about the Indians' strategy is that they seem to be the only team doing it right now. They have a strong, talented core signed and ready to compete for years. The Twins should do the same. They don't need to do so with Justin Morneau yet, as he still needs to prove himself. They might consider it with Scott Baker, Fransisco Liriano, Jason Kubel, and other rising stars. But they definitely should give a similar contract to Joe Mauer.
Mauer is another 23-year-old rising superstar. Granted, he didn't have the year Sizemore did last year (Sizemore hit .289 with 22 home runs, 81 RBI, 111 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases), but there need be no question mark about what Mauer will do for years to come. Even if he has to switch positions, he'll be a great offensive player. He already is.
Part of the reason for bringing this up is that many reports have suggested that Terry Ryan may be considering signing Mauer to a long-term deal. I'm sure the Twins are and the likeliness is that they'll try and sign Mauer long term after the season is over. That's because after this season, they'll likely have Brad Radke's, Torii Hunter's, and Shannon Stewart's contracts off the payroll (unless Hunter's option is picked up, which is unlikely). Of course, Radke could come back, and Shannon could re-sign, but the likeliness is that the youth movement will take over.
With that in mind, let's look forward to the season. And hopefully, Jim Thome's monster blast to finish off Cleveland last night following his big spring (eight home runs in seven games, yikes!) doesn't become a trend. Or else the Twins might not have a postseason to look forward to.