Mar 21, 2010, 7:18 PM EDT
Joe Mauer’s new eight-year extension is worth $100 million more than any other contract the Twins have ever handed out and committing to pay a catcher $23 million per year through his age-35 season in 2018 represents a massive amount of risk.
With that said, it was a no-brainer.
First and foremost, if reasonably healthy Mauer should be worth the $23 million per season for most of the deal. Through his first five full seasons in the majors Mauer was worth an average of $22 million per year according to Fan Graphs’ player valuation system, including $26 million in 2008 and $36.6 million while winning the AL MVP in 2009.
As a catcher with previous knee and back injuries Mauer is at a far higher risk to decline or age poorly than most players, but it’s tough to worry too much about how the deal might look come 2017 or 2018 when the Twins’ new ballpark is opening next month. After all, Target Field was built in large part to help the Twins increase their revenue and payroll enough to support retaining star players as they neared free agency.
As a 27-year-old native Minnesotan and former No. 1 overall pick coming off an MVP season Mauer fits the “star” bill about as well as humanly possible, so if ever the Twins were going to over-commit this would be the time. Ultimately even with Target Field they’re likely to remain in the middle of the payroll pack, so $184 million is a scary number, but it’s certainly a fair deal relative to the eight-year, $180 million contract Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees last offseason.
Plus, it would have been sad if the people of Minnesota burned down Target Field after just one season.
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