For those Twins fans fearful that this year's MVP award will make it more difficult to keep Joe Mauer past 2010, General Manager Bill Smith tried offering some soothing words Monday.
"Do you think if he finished second, the price was going to come down?" Smith said, cracking a smile. "So no, Joe said it perfectly: 'Today, let's celebrate the MVP Award, and we've got time to work on the other stuff.' "
To be sure, it didn't take validation from the writers to establish Mauer's soaring value. He's a two-time Gold Glove catcher, a three-time American League batting champ and now, an MVP. All this at age 26, with a four-year, $33 million contract set to expire after next season, just when the Yankees and Red Sox figure to be shopping for new catchers.
No wonder it took the national media fewer than five minutes to begin peppering Mauer with contract questions during a teleconference.
"I knew I'd probably run into a question like that," Mauer said. "I've always said it will take care of itself when it needs to."
So, let's take care of some of that contract stuff for Mr. Mauer. There is no better time than now to get the contract extension done!
Here are the goals for each side:
1. Lock up Joe Mauer long term
2. Don't eat up too much payroll
3. Hometown discount!!!!!
The Joe Mauer Camp
1. Big money contract
2. Stay in Minnesota
So how about this deal for Mauer and the Twins?
(6 years/$120 million) with a $24 million dollar option for 2016 (7 years/$144 million)
Here is the contractual breakdown:
2010: $15 million
2011: $18 million
2012: $19 million
2013: $21 million
2014: $23 million
2015: $24 million
2016: $24 million (club option)
Why it works for the Twins:
1. Keep Mauer in Minnesota
2. Prevent him from hitting the open market
Why it works for Mauer
1. Stays in Minnesota
2. Becomes highest paid catcher in baseball
For Joe Mauer, this deal represents his strong desire to stay in Minnesota long term and help put together a winning product there. Sure, he could have gotten a bigger and longer contract on the open market (7 years/$150 mil, 8 years/$160 mil), but given the Twins payroll flexibility, this deal would represent a massive commitment for them. It does help that the Twins are moving into a new stadium in 2010 because without the added revenue, there's virtually no way that a deal like this could have been offered. $20 million annually is not too shabby for the former frugal spending Twins.
If the Twins payroll stays around the $90 million mark, then they will be committing a large portion of their payroll to a catcher. I don't think any baseball fan out there is too fond of this idea, but quite simply, Mauer is worth it. He is one of the best players in baseball and represents so much to the Twins organization.
(Follow Jorge Says No! on Twitter)