Monday, March 22, 2010

Eight More Years

That sound you heard yesterday in the late afternoon? That was the sound of an entire state breathing out one huge sigh of relief.

Yankees fans can stop drooling with anticipation. Red Sox fans can stop formulating theoretical trade packages. Mets fans can let any glimmers of hope die and go back to wallowing in misery.

Joe Mauer is staying in Minnesota.

The Twins announced yesterday that they'd signed their 26-year-old homegrown MVP to an eight-year contract extension that will keep Mauer at Target Field through 2018. The catcher will make $23 million per season over the life of the $184 million deal, which includes a full no trade clause.

Jittery fans and bored newspaper columnists had been stirring up some anxiety over the past few weeks, but ultimately there was little reason to believe this deal would not get done. While premature announcements from a couple of prominent local sports personalities proved false, there Twins organization's confidence that this extension would eventually get hammered out was clear on almost every report on the subject. With a new stadium opening this year and fan interest at the highest point been it's been in recent memory, the Twins were not going to let Mauer get away.

With the contract officially signed, the Twins have locked up the reigning MVP throughout his prime years. Mauer is the best player in the American League and he's not even 27 yet, so the benefits of this deal figure to be huge over the next several years. Of course, there's room to question whether Mauer will still be worth $23 million at the age of 34 or 35. There's also room to question how drastic the impacts of dedicating such an enormous percentage of the team's total payroll to one player will be; the Twins are setting an all-time high in payroll this year at $96 million, and Mauer's $23 million would account for 24 percent of that.

But those are discussions for another day. While it's not without its downsides, this is a move that needed to be made. Mauer staying in Minnesota is good for baseball and certainly good for Minnesotans.

The final piece of offseason drama has offically been settled. Now, can we get this season started?

Finally, a quick word from today's sponsor...

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11 comments:

Leslie said...

I personally thought the Twins should have traded Mauer. Giving him that type of money to him is irresponsible.

First of all, the guy gets hurt too often.

Second of all, he had one good season. Other than that, he is a hitter that hits for doubles that's it.

How are the Twins going to sign other core players down the road especially Morneau?

Anonymous said...

I agree -- this is the Kevin Garnett situation all over again. Too much money focused on one player, so the Twins won't be able to afford to add talent around him. And for 8 years yet -- talk about having your hands tied. If it weren't for the home-grown factor, the Twins would have traded him, but they were in a corner. Hope he stays healthy at least.

Topper said...

"Second of all, he had one good season."

I don't even know where to begin with that comment...

David said...

Second of all, he had one good season. Other than that, he is a hitter that hits for doubles that's it.

Mauer's adjusted OPS+ (total production adjusted for park factors, compared to league average) over the last four years:

2006: 144
2007: 118
2008: 134
2009: 170

His "one good season" was actually historic. His other seasons show that the ability to get on base is hugely important, and hitting for doubles isn't something to poo-poo. If Mauer even hits for 80% of the power he showed last year, he'll still be the best player in the AL.

Also, I'm stealing from Aaron Gleeman here, but this is worth noting:

Career batting lines:
Joe Mauer: .327/.408/.483
Mark Teixeira: .290/.378/.545

Tex is a firstbaseman. Mauer's a catcher. Enough said.

this is the Kevin Garnett situation all over again.

First, the Timberwolves were utterly and totally incompetently managed. Second, basketball has a salary cap, and baseball doesn't. Third, the Wolves had no draft picks b/c of Joe Smith. So, basically, they could only build by trade or free agency, but because of the cap and KG they couldn't do that. So they were screwed.

Also, the Twins were competitive for 8-9 years on a payroll that never exceeded 75 million. (give or take a few million? I don't recall the exact high water mark.) Indications are that the payroll will now be around 95-100 million annually. So, you've got Mauer, the best catcher in the universe and one of the best players in baseball, plus 72-77 million to play with. I think they'll be ok.

AK47 said...

"David" kinda said it all, but yeah, to say he had "one good season" is to ignore both the statistical facts and his unique value at the particular position he plays (catcher) as it relates to the pitching staff.

Morneau is signed through the 2013 season, at which point he'll be 32, so I doubt you'll be looking at a very comparable deal years-wise.

CA said...

I'm happy with this contract, especially considering that the money is evenly distributed over the 8 years instead of being back-loaded. That gives the team some flexibility going forward. In 5 years, $23 million will still be a lot of money, but it's unlikely to be outrageous.

In fact, that seems to be how the Twins have approached this offseason in general--anticipating a recovering economy in which player value will go up. There is risk in assuming that scenario, but if it happens, the Blackburn deal in particular will start to look pretty good (barring injury, of course).

haasertime said...

I think Leslie was being facetious. If not, they probably came from the dreaded star tribune Comments Section. May wanna rethink that partnership with them. ha.

Nick N. said...

I think Leslie was being facetious.

He's not. This is his typical rhetoric.

Jason said...

This is a deal the Twins had to make. Mauer is easily the best player in the American League and in my opinion he is the best player in baseball. Use statistics all you want to make cases for anyone else, but you can not replace Mauer's combination of defense and offense skills. Add in the fact that he is from St Paul which only adds to the PR bump the Twins get with him on the team. This deal was a must.

My only issue with this contract is the amount. Now I feel the Twins can keep their core players in tact for the foreseeable future ($100+ mil a year payroll). However, as we have seen the last few years, the other 5 or so guys need to contribute as well for the Twins too make a run the the WS, and this deal might hinder the quality of these players that we might be able to pay.

The Twins management record speaks for it self, but time will tell how this deal pans out for the Twins. Great deal for Mauer and the fans, so so for Twins.

I don't think Leslie has followed the Twins the last 3 years if he thinks Mauer only had one good year. Mauer only had one historically great year and 2 other excellent years.

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