"And I'd say that my best guess is yes, the Twins will open the checkbook and spend big dollars to keep the superstar catcher, who will be told today, officially, that he is the winner of the AL Most Valuable Player Award. He and Albert Pujols are baseball's best hitters now, and in time, he might be regarded as the greatest catcher ever. He is, of course, a hometown guy for the Twins, and the last thing that the team wants, as it begins play in a publicly-funded park, is to have the imminent departure of its most marketable player hang over the franchise throughout the 2010 season.Hold up.
The Twins would never give Mauer an A-Rod kind of deal, but they know that he and agent Ron Shapiro aren't going to give them a blue-light special, either (and neither will the leadership of the Players Association, which has been aggressively leaning on the agents to muster good contracts and essentially is making it clear that it will scour any deal it considers to be less than worthy.)
The team will undoubtedly offer him a record-setting deal for his position, and if he signs, there would appear to be a pretty good chance that he will make a larger percentage of his team's payroll than any player in the majors by the 2012 season. Mauer will want to take advantage of his place in the market, but at the same time, I don't think he'll try to scrape loose every nickel that is available to him (and let's face it -- in order to do that, he'd probably have to go to Boston or the Yankees."
I have no doubts that Mauer will become the highest paid catcher in baseball and I'm sure he will become the highest paid player on the Twins as soon as he signs his massive contract extension. I'm assuming the numbers will be staggering, well exceeding 6 years and well north of $100 million dollars. I don't care how good Joe Mauer is; that's some serious cash for a catcher.
But I have my doubts that Joe Mauer will make a larger percentage of his team's payroll than any player in the majors by the 2012 season. I'm not saying that Mauer won't get handsomely paid because we all know that he will. But what I am saying is that there are a number of reasons why Mauer will narrowly miss out on the title.
1. The Twins payroll is set to increase.
-With the new building opening in 2010, the Twins payroll is expected to jump from about $70 million to $90 million. A recent estimate puts the Twins 2010 payroll at $93 million. If the Twins maintained their $70 million dollar payroll, then I'm sure that Mauer would have been the "highest percentage" if he signed with Minnesota considering that he's a virtual lock to make roughly $20 million annually.
2. Felix Hernandez
-King Felix is set to become a free agent after 2011 and there's a chance, albeit an outside chance, that he could become the highest paid pitcher in baseball and become the "highest percentage" player.
3. Albert Pujols
-Now we're talking. Phat Albert is set to become a free agent after the 2011 season and I'm sure the Cardinals will do everything in their power to lock him up long term. However, if Pujols hits the market, who knows how much money he could get? $25 million? $30 million? No matter, Pujols is sure to become one of the highest paid players in baseball whenever he signs his next deal. If Pujols signs with the Cardinals, who have roughly $80-$95 million to spend, then there's no reason to think that Pujols annual salary won't take up 25-33% of the team's total payroll.
4. Prince, Carl Crawford, etc.
-If Prince Fielder re-signs with the Brewers he could come close to being the "highest percentage"
-If Carl Crawford signs a extension with the Rays similar to this one, then he could come close to being the "highest percentage" in 2012.
-If the Rangers ownership situation completely blows up and they are forced to cut payroll, then Michael Young could the choice.
-If the Blue Jays cut costs in 2012, then Vernon Wells could be the answer.
-And if the Marlins' payroll fails to increase, then Hanley Ramirez could very well become the "highest percentage" player in 2012.
Well see how close Mauer comes to the title, but as you can see, the competition will be stiff. As you can see here, there are numerous options and it is simply too early to tell how the entire market will play out by 2012.
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