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UPDATE: OK, maybe the Twins and Mauer have not yet reached a preliminary agreement

Feb 1, 2010, 4:29 PM EDT

UPDATE: Buster Olney tweets that the Twins are calling the WCCO report “not accurate” and that while they remain optimistic that a deal will be done, it’s not done yet.
Not that I’m going to delete the analysis of the deal I started drafting or anything.
4:16 P.M.:: WCCO TV is reporting that Mauer and the Twins have reached a preliminary argeement on a ten-year deal. No terms disclosed yet, but it will likely be the richest deal in baseball history.
3:49 P.M.: Last week some rumors began swirling around the Twin Cities that the Twins were close to signing Joe Mauer, with a few sources suggesting that an announcement could come at the weekend’s annual TwinsFest.
That speculation was quickly shot down by everyone involved, but Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the two sides may indeed be close to working something out:

Everybody I spoke with during TwinsFest believes the team soon will have Joe Mauer signed to a contract extension. Two people, who have their own information pipelines, claimed that the deal’s basic framework–the number of years and guaranteed money–is already set, with the sides negotiating things such as deferred payments, etc.

Our best sources on this subject, however, insisted there wouldn’t be news of an extension all weekend, and they were right. Mauer said Friday he doesn’t want his contract to become a distraction for the team. But there is hardly widespread panic that the Twins are going to lose him to free agency. I’m confident an extension is coming. It’s a matter of when, not if.

Mauer and the Twins have been amazingly quiet about contract talks, and Christensen is a good reporter with good sources who tends not to delve into rumor-mongering. In other words, the fact that some info is finally beginning to leak out now and Christensen is the person running it seemingly signals that a long-term extension is truly close.

  1. OldMan - Feb 1, 2010 at 8:30 PM

    I apologize … “sre” should have been “are” … thank you, Warren!

  2. My Poor Mets - Feb 1, 2010 at 9:52 PM

    I am a Mets fan. I know, we suck, but the one thing one cannot deny is that Mets are generally a good team when they have a great catcher. Jerry Grote in 69 and 73. The Kid in 86 and Piazza in 2000. While they will go nowhere this year but .500 if they are lucky, next hot stove, if Mauer is not signed to an extension, he would be perfect in New York, as a Met. If the Mets can get a superstar catcher, such as Mauer, then the next decade (this one is not over yet folks) the toast of the town would be Mauer, and not a Jeter-less Yanks. Please Mauer, if you are reading this, come to New York next year and play for the Mets. I can dream, can’t I?

  3. Andrew - Feb 2, 2010 at 3:24 AM

    Not just the girls, Jeff. I’d go gay for Joe. I mean, as a pitcher, I always did have a thing for catchers. Plus, who doesn’t love that stick, or his ability to touch ’em all (the bases).
    Okay. I’m done now.
    Ten years is an insane length to give to a catcher who has already had back and knee problems. If it is indeed that long, I’ll be very interested to see the final numbers.
    I also am a bit shocked that Gleeman speculated that it’d be the richest in MLB history. Usually, I find his opinions to be well-reasoned and his predictions relatively accurate as a result. Mauer getting more than A-Rod seems like absolute hogwash to me, though. I may be setting myself up to eat some crow, but if I were to bet, I’d bet his contract is closer to half the size of A-Rod’s than it is to the full price.
    Reasoning as follows:
    – Mauer strikes me as one of the most likely athletes to not just take a hometown discount, but a massive one. Nothing he has said or done in the contract negotiation process has struck me as any sort of negotiating ploy. He knows he’s getting paaaaiiiiddddddd, and he’s done nothing that I’m aware of to try to leverage the Twins for more money.
    – The negotiations have been a relatively quick process. If they were the least bit contentious, I wouldn’t expect such positive reports to surface so early.
    – His agent, Ron Shapiro, already has shown a history of signing long-term deals to keep hometown players (Puckett and Ripken) on their teams career-long. More research shows that Scott Boras he is not (Shapiro wrote a book titled The Power Of Nice: How To Negotiate So Everyone Wins- Especially you!).
    – The Pohlads are notoriously penny-pinching. Even with the unique leverage Mauer has, they’re not the type to let go of any more money than they feel they can get away with.
    – Mauer is a catcher. There’s a strong case to be made that this increases his value tremendously in the short run, but if the deal is indeed for 10 years, I see no way that the Twins commit 25+ million per year to a (former?) catcher into his thirties.
    – Mauer wants to win. He knows the new ballpark will increase revenue greatly for the Twins, but even then, they’ll still be a more of a mid-market team than a payroll goliath.
    – The market has changed pretty dramatically over the past couple of years. The superstar players haven’t been hit much, but veteran players have taken big pay cuts (the constant CTB posts on Johnny Damon are a nice case study). In this market, I again don’t see the Twins shelling out a lot of money (relatively) for Mauer in his mid-30s.
    – Generally, the longer the length of the contract, the greater a discount a player will take. Players have fairly consistently demonstrated that they’ll leave money on the table if it means long-term stability. As a catcher with the health history that Mauer has, this aspect is certainly relevant. If it’s a 10-year deal, it’ll be for lesser money than if the deal were for a shorter time period.
    Ultimately, this is my prediction: 10 years 180,000,000 and an incredible bargain for the Twins.
    I could end up being off in my analysis, and nearly everyone will say that my prediction is an incredible bargain (I certainly think it is), but I’m willing to pit my prediction versus anyone else’s to see how it holds up.

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  5. mauer power - Feb 2, 2010 at 10:46 AM

    Andrew, I think you’re right on on most of your takes, but I’m guessing it’ll come in about 65-75% of A-Rods…reasoning? I know people will have a hard time believing this, but I think Mauer is actually working with Shapiro to not just set the Twins up for HIS contract, but for Morneau’s also when it comes due in 2014…he’s in at $14M/yr now, and if he’s reasonably productive, will be pushing the $20M range in 2014…we hear that the only items left right now between Shapiro and Big Billy Smith are the deferred payments…my guess? They’re thinking about making Baby Jesus very comfortable and what would make him more comfortable than to have his surrogate brother next to him on the bench until he/they retire? I’m guessing they’ll have a joint retirement press conference sometime around 2018…in case you’re still a skeptic, I offer the following URL which should remove any remaining doubt…
    The guy who took this picture told me they were pointing into the outfield, where Nick Punto was stretching his groin and rearranging his cup with his drawers dropped to his stirrups…and that Justin was secretly giving Joe a little love pinch in the behind below where the picture cut off…
    Just kidding of course…not about my theory though…they are as we all know very close, and you watch, come 2014, the Twins will mysteriously be able to move Mauer’s money around in order to accommodate keeping the big Canadian…it’s just such a ‘Joe Mauer’ thing to do…and I say that in the most respectful way…I’m a big Mauer guy, as you can tell from my earlier posts…
    (And for the record, I’d go gay for Joe too…)

  6. Brian - Feb 2, 2010 at 11:16 AM

    As for the reporting, the WCCO sports guy is pretty connected with the Mauer family, so I don’t doubt his report (the deal looks to be 10 years and the framework is in place). The fact that it’s not signed doesn’t make WCCO wrong. They never said the deal was signed and sealed. Seems like the Olneys of the world just don’t want to get scooped. WCCO premature? Probably a little. But ESPN has the premature problem to the extent that they should be taking medication for it.

  7. Andrew - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:15 PM

    That’s a fun little theory there. I think it’s unlikely, but I wouldn’t throw it completely out the window. Those two might have the tightest bromance of any two ballplayers I’ve ever seen. Out of everything I’ve seen and heard of Mauer, it does sound like something he might do.

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  12. Eric - Mar 2, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    Joe Mauer is 10 times better baseball player than A-Rod

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