Saturday, January 26, 2008

You Better Lock It Up!

As the annual TwinsFest celebration kicked off at the Metrodome yesterday, the Twins made a move to generate some excitement by announcing long-term extensions for Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. Morneau's deal is the largest in club history, spanning six years and totaling $80 million. Cuddyer's deal is considerably shorter, registering at three years/$23 million with a club option for a fourth year worth $10.5 million.'

Let me start off by saying that I'm pretty happy with both of these signings. When analyzing the arbitration-eligible Twins last week, I advocated that the Twins stick with a one-year commitment to Cuddyer; yet, it's tough to take issue with this contract. The years and money are both reasonable, and I love the club option for a fourth year. At worst, Cuddyer is probably about a league-average right fielder, and if he can find his 2006 form and revert back into that type of hitter, the Twins can activate the fourth year and perhaps get a bargain.

Then there's the Morneau deal. I think one can easily make the argument that the Twins are overpaying for Morneau. Over the course of his career, he has really only been an average first baseman overall, and it seems dumbfounding that he can collect a contract worth $80 million when the comparably valuable Joe Mauer signed for $33 million just a year ago. With all that being said, Morneau is a very good hitter and I am fairly optimistic that he'll be an above-average first baseman over the length of this contract. He is one of the team's top hitters, and in a system as sparse on bats as the this one, locking him up for the next six years is an important step. Moreover, I think that this contract sends a positive message to the players and fans.

With baseball's revenue rising and a new stadium on the horizon, the Twins have money to spend. They committed a nice big chunk of it yesterday to a pair of important members of the team. I think both of these players have more upside than downside, and it's tough to see these contracts really coming back to hurt the time. A nice, aggressive move by Bill Smith. Now, we see what effect the moves have on the Johan Santana situation.

4 comments:

TT said...

"Over the course of his career, he has really only been an average first baseman overall, and it seems dumbfounding that he can collect a contract worth $80 million when the comparably valuable Joe Mauer signed for $33 million just a year ago.".

I think there are a couple things going on here. One is that Morneau's contract is buying different years in the arbitration/free agent cycle. The other is that Mauer signed a year earlier, so Morneau isn't really getting paid that much more than Mauer during the life of Mauer's contract.

Morneau's career numbers are really not very relevant. If you look at the last couple years he has hit a total of 65 home runs and driven in 241. I don't think you will find many first baseman who have done anything close to that and he hasn't turned 27 yet. This contract locks him up for his prime years.

Mauer, on the other hand, will be just hitting his prime when his contract expires. They are likely going to end up having to pay him a lot more than Morneau if they want to hold on to him into his early 30's.

ca said...

It's true that the Twins are essentially paying Morneau's arbitration money plus a couple of free agent years, but from a PR standpoint it "looks" like they're handing Morneau an $80 million check while claiming poverty when it comes to making Santana a big contract offer.

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