Monday, March 29, 2010

Mauer Deal is Good Business

Last week the Minnesota Twins signed All-Star catcher Joe Mauer to an eight-year $184 million contract extension that ensures he will remain a Twin for the rest of his career. It was the richest contract for a catcher in MLB history and in my opinion one of the most important of the past decade.

A lot of people were ragging on this deal because its such a large sum of money to spending on a player that doesn't play in every game and for a position that doesn't have a long shelf life. Many catchers reach their peak in their early 30s and this deal will ensure that Mauer is making over $20 million when he is 36.

Normally I would agree with this statement but these critics seems to be forgetting one thing: this contract was given out by the Minnesota Twins. The Twins are one of the thriftiest teams in baseball and often have a payroll in the bottom 1/3 of the league. They are a "small market" team and in the past have opted to let big name players leave in free agency rather than paying them (Johan Santana and Tori Hunter). But with this contract that all changes.

The Twins are showing their fans that they are committed to winning and committed to fielding a competitive team and anytime you can show your fans you're committed to them that is a positive thing. It gives Twins fans renewed hope and will no doubt win over some new fans who may have given up on the franchise due to their frugal ways.

So what makes Mauer so special?

Well there are a lot of factors that went into this decision. Mauer is young, only 26, and extremely talented. Last year he won the AL MVP and led the league in batting average (.365), slugging (587), on-base percentage (.444) and OPS (1.031). He also showed that he could hit with power as he knocked out a career high 28 home runs. He is a Gold Glove winning catcher and does a great job managing the pitching staff.

To put into perspective how good Mauer is statistically check out this fact: In a span of 4 years Mauer has won as many batting titles as every catcher in MLB history combined.

Besides his statistical merits there is also the fact that Mauer is from Minnesota. He was born and raised in Saint Paul and grew up as a Twins fan. He has strong ties to the community in Minnesota and lives there in the off-season surrounding himself with friends and family. Basically he is the perfect guy to sign to a big contract. Not only is a once in a generation player but he is a hometown kid, it is a match made in heaven.

Finally there is the Target Field aspect. Target Field is the new stadium the Twins are building and will call home when the 2010 season starts in a few days. The new stadium should increase the Twins overall revenue and a the new stadium will now be synonymous with the Mauer deal as the new stadium symbolizes a new direction for the team.

This contract is important for another reason though. During the season there was endless talk about Mauer leaving the Twins to sign with either the Red Sox or the Yankees. Baseball fans everywhere were pissed because this just symbolized how the Sox and Yankees buy their teams. By signing Mauer the Twins showed that they won't be bullied around and that they are going to keep their big talent.

Hopefully this will inspire other teams to do the same. Rather than complain about not being able to keep up with the "Super Powers" they will fork over the money and stay competitive. I love it.

Everything about this deal is good. Mauer is a great player who deserves to be paid as such and Twins fans don't have to sit back and watch as another All-Star leaves with nothing coming back in return.

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