As noted here yesterday, the Minnesota Twins and Joe Mauer, the American League MVP, have agreed to an 8-year, $184 million contract extension, keeping Mauer in Minnesota through the 2018 season. Mauer will make $12.5 million in 2010 and will then make $23 million per season through the 2018 season.
This signing is not only great news for Minnesotans, not only for fans of Twins baseball, but for the sport of baseball in general. Forget about the fact that catcher's are more susceptible to injury than any other position player is and that he may be forced from the catcher's position at some point down the line. Just don't even think about that. Leave that be for another day. Instead, focus on the fact that the MINNESOTA TWINS, a team not a decade removed from looking down the throat of contraction, a team once forced to play inside a Teflon-roofed building not meant to host baseball, a team that had recently lost All-Star caliber players due to having insufficient funds, have signed a player for $184 million.
This move makes the Twins look like they were David taking down Goliath. It immediately instills faith into the fans of the San Diego Padres, Tampa Bay Rays and Milwaukee Brewers whose teams are trying to sign their premier players to long-term extensions even with little to no chance of it happening. Those teams will remain hopeful that their franchise players will sign before being swallowed up by the Chicago White Sox, New York Mets and other large market teams of Major League Baseball.
Is this the best move for the Minnesota Twins? Maybe not. It's hard to explain how one player making 25% of their team's payroll is a good move. However, this extension means a lot to the team's (and their fans) that have been unable to keep up with the large market teams who can lure players away by offering them a lot more money over more years without batting an eye.
Mauer, already one of baseball's most marketable and beloved players wasn't tempted by the thought of playing in a large city where he'd undoubtedly heighten his celebrity to disgusting levels. Instead, he's staying home to play baseball in the state that has made him their son. The organization that could have chosen Mark Prior, the best college pitcher in years to enter the draft. The team that he grew up cheering for as a child. Mauer's a rare breed, and he along with the Twins gave the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox and the other teams that have pushed smaller teams around a shot right in the groin.
This is a big win for the little man.