Joe Mauer staying in the Twin Cities

After learning that All-Star closer Joe Nathan will miss the 2010 season due to elbow surgery Minnesota Twins fans got good news with the announcement that the team signed Joe Mauer to an eight year deal worth $184mil.

Obviously, the Twins had to open up their pocketbooks to get this deal done. Mauer is a Minnesota kid, fan favorite, and franchise player. Oh yeah, he’s also really good. Like, top five player *right now*, potentially best catcher of all-time good. If Minnesota had failed to keep him in maroon and navy, they might as well fold the franchise right now.

The deal will run from 2011-2018, covering his age 28-35 seasons and his first eight years of free agency. In 2010 he will be paid $12.5mil, which stems from the previous 4/$33mil contract he signed in 2007. At 8/$184, the AAV of the deal is $23mil. The contract is the fourth largest in baseball history, behind Alex Rodriguez (10/$252mil in 2001; 10/$275mil in 2008) and Derek Jeter (10/$189mil in 2001).

In 2008 Joe Mauer hit .328/.413/.451/.378wOBA/135wRC+ en route to a 5.8 WAR according to fangraphs, who do not have defensive values for catchers (as many of you know). But in 2009 Mauer went into beast mode. Despite missing all of April with an injury, Mauer hit .365/.444/.587/.438wOBA/174wRC+ and had an 8.1 WAR. Even more impressive, his WAR/150 was 8.8(!). As Mauer went on to win the AL MVP, many stat heads called it the best season ever by a catcher, alongside Mike Piazza in 1997.

While it’s unlikely Mauer repeats his 2009 performance, he should still be one of the most, if not the most, valuable player in the league. CHONE projects a line of .332/.408/.510/.401wOBA/150wRC+ and a 7.3 WAR. The Fans (254) project a line of .336/.419/.536/.409wOBA/155wRC+ and a 7.3 WAR. Those projections sound just about right. Assuming Mauer posts a WAR of 6-8 over the next four seasons, his market value will be $30mil+ per. Compared to his AAV of $23mil, that’s pretty good.

Projecting further than that though is tough. He will be entering his mid-thirties, the age when most catchers break down. For all the money Minny is saving in the short term, they might give it up in the last four years of the contract. Either way, that doesn’t change the dynamics of the deal. In his age 32-35 seasons, Mauer should still be a solid player who will contribute positively. That’s why I love the length of the contract. Age 34-35 is the age most catchers begin to decline, and this contract will end right when that should happen. It also covers all of his peak seasons at a good price.

One also needs to go beyond the numbers to see value and importance in the contract. As stated earlier, Mauer is the biggest thing since sliced…well lets just say the biggest thing ever in Minnesota. Whether the Twins will utimately overpay for his production or not, it won’t matter. All that mattered was keeping Mauer in Minny and keeping the fans happy. Much like Derek Jeter in New York, the front office needed to do everything in their power to keep him in the franchise.

Twins fans, breathe easy. Mauer Power will be a daily fixture in the Twin Cities for a long time.

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One Comment on “Joe Mauer staying in the Twin Cities”


    I would really like him to get from behind the plate.

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