SBD/Issue 131/Franchises

Twins Secure Joe Mauer For Long Term In Eight-Year, $184M Deal

Deal Will Pay Mauer $23M
Each Year Between '11-18

The Twins yesterday announced they have "reached agreement on an eight-year, $184[M] contract extension" with C Joe Mauer, according to Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. The deal will pay Mauer $23M "each year between 2011 and 2018, and it has another fan-friendly aspect," as it "includes a clause that keeps the Twins from trading him without his permission for the tenure of the contract." Christensen notes as they "prepare to open Target Field, the Twins are turning into big spenders," as this year's projected payroll is $97M, up from $65M last year. Mauer's new deal "won't affect this year's total, but for 2011 the Twins already have $70.5[M] committed to just eight players" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/22). In St. Paul, Kelsie Smith notes the deal is the "fourth-largest in baseball history," behind Yankees 3B Alex Rodriguez' 10-year, $275M deal, his previous 10-year, $252M deal with the Rangers, and Yankees SS Derek Jeter's 10-year, $189M deal. Mauer's contract "obliterates" the Twins' previous record and "puts them in what can be dangerous territory." Signing Mauer "seemed nothing short of necessary for the Twins, but the history-making deal doesn't come without risk." Smith notes if the Twins "continue to field a payroll of about $100[M] a season, Mauer will be eating up" 23% of that (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/22).

BUILDING BLOCK: ESPN.com's Jason Stark wrote the Twins "knew that with a new ballpark about to open its gates thanks to the generous taxpayers of their state, this deal had to happen" (ESPN.com, 3/21). In St. Paul, Tom Powers writes these "aren't your granddaddy's Twins anymore," as the "new, modern, financially solvent Twins clearly have set up an impenetrable cash force field around Target Field." Powers: "Clearly they weren't joking when they said a new ballpark would result in a significant revenue boost that would be spent on player salaries. ... The bottom line is that the Twins organization turned a significant corner on Sunday" (ST. PAUL PIONEER PRESS, 3/22). Twins President Dave St. Peter said that ticket sales for the '10 season are already higher than "all last season, when it drew 2,416,237 to the Metrodome." The Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE's Sid Hartman noted the first six-regular season games at Target Field, series against the Red Sox and Royals, "are sold out." The Twins also will "soon announce their plans to unveil statues of Hall of Famers Harmon Killebrew, Rod Carew and Kirby Puckett on Target Plaza" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/21).

Writer Says Target Field's Potential For
Increased Revenues Made Mauer Deal Possible

HOMETOWN STAR STAYS HOME: MLB.com's Kelly Thesier wrote Mauer, a "shy and modest guy who tries to avoid the spotlight," has "seen his status grow even more in recent years due to his on-the-field success" (MLB.com, 3/21). MLB.com's Mike Bauman wrote Sunday was a "good day not only for the Minnesota Twins, but for small-market baseball and competitive balance." Bauman: "A homegrown superstar stays home. That has not been baseball's typical scenario in the free-agent era." But Target Field, "and its potential for increased revenues, makes this deal possible, as it makes a viable future for the Twins possible" (MLB.com, 3/21). In N.Y., Tyler Kepner notes there was "no hometown discount for the hometown boy," as Mauer's contract "easily eclipsed" Yankees C Jorge Posada's record contract for a catcher (N.Y. TIMES, 3/22). YAHOO SPORTS' Tim Brown wrote the Twins in offering Mauer the contract conceded that it is "bad business to build a ballpark only to have your own fans burn it down," as "on the list of most revered Minnesota sports figures ever, the line will continue to form behind" Mauer. It is a "great day" for MLB Commissioner Bud Selig's "parity" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 3/21). 

MEANT TO BE A TWIN: ESPN.com's Stark wrote the Mauer contract negotiations "had to be based on a single fundamental principle: that Joe Mauer was meant to be a Twin, whatever that took." Stark: "It isn't only the franchise that has built around Joe Mauer. It's the state of Minnesota itself at this point." Stark wrote everyone "should understand now that what it took was a historic contract, not some little bargain-basement, hometown-discount kind of deal." But one "should also understand that the money Mauer left on the table was undoubtedly somewhere in the neighborhood of the gross national product of Anguilla" (ESPN.com, 3/21). In Minneapolis, Hartman writes, "I don't believe there was ever a chance that Mauer would not stay with the Twins, because of what he means to the franchise. With 2.4 million tickets already sold for this season at Target Field, can you imagine how the great interest in the club would change with Mauer not in a Twins uniform?" Meanwhile, the no-trade clause in Mauer's contract "was one important reason for the long negotiating period," as the Twins have "negotiated only one other full no-trade clause into a contract before," when former P Brad Radke signed a four-year, $36M deal in '00. Hartman also writes he "wouldn't be surprised if there is deferred money" in Mauer's contract, despite Twins Owner Jim Pohlad recently saying that the Twins "don't believe in deferring payments in their contracts" (Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE, 3/22).

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