On Sunday, the Minnesota Twins essentially gave 26-year-old Joe Mauer $184 million.
And he deserves every single penny.
Mauer’s new eight-year contract makes Minnesota’s home-state hero the highest-paid catcher of all-time. His contract is the third-biggest in Major League Baseball history after Alex Rodriguez and C.C. Sabathia.
The deal is worth an average of $23 million annually with a no-trade clause. The Twins organization has never been that generous — ever.
So what does this mean?
Well, Mauer’s hunting grounds outside of the Twin Cities won’t be up for grabs anytime soon. It also means he won’t be dating models in Manhattan or swilling a Sam Adams in Beantown.
At best, you’ll catch Mauer jet-skiing on Lake Minnetonka. Though more than likely, he’ll just be relaxing in his deer stand. It won’t be the same as hanging out at Marquee with Jeter and whatever brunette of the moment is on his arm, but Mauer could probably care less.
There’s no way the man ever wanted to leave Minnesota. He’s a God there. He can do no wrong. At least yet.
The only thing that scares me about Mauer is that he has set himself up for failure.
Not only did he sign a gigantic new contract that is almost impossible to live up to, Mauer is on the cover of “MLB The Show 2010.” As soon as I saw that first, albeit hilarious PlayStation3 commercial, my first thought included one of the seven dirty words.
But, after a little research, I discovered ‘The Show’ doesn’t have a track record of cover curses, so at least Mauer has a good chance of dodging one bullet.
Now he just has to live up to that $23 million-a-year salary.
If you want an example of what that’ll be like, it’s like The Dickinson Press telling me that they love what I’ve done in my career, so they’re going to increase my yearly salary to around $200,000 on average over the next eight years (no one makes that). Oh, and I can’t go to any other newspaper. But, that contract also means I must continue doing my job as well as they believe I have while also improving, writing more, and better, stories than I did in my first four years at the newspaper, and last but not least, help the paper win some big awards.
Now I’m not trying to say that the Twins will be expecting Mauer to hit .400, slam 40 homers and drive in 150 runs. What they will be expecting, though, is the same type of player that won the American League’s Most Valuable Player award last season and the past two Gold Gloves.
On the other hand, the Twins owed him. It was brought up Sunday that that Minnesota contraction talks (remember those dark days) began four months after the organization drafted Mauer?
Thankfully that’s all in the past, but now that almost a decade has passed, it’s difficult not to look at Mauer as not only the face of the franchise, but perhaps even its primary savior.
Truth be told, like most Twins fans or baseball reporters, I believed Minnesota would eventually let Mauer slip through their fingers as big-market clubs stepped in with suitcases full of cash and promised riches beyond Mauer’s wildest dreams.
But, just like the stereotype associated with his home state, Mauer was too nice to let any of that happen.
Let’s be honest though. The dude worked the system well and made sure he got paid. Royally.
But, as I said before, it’s not like he isn’t deserving.
The man plays more than a catcher probably should and has steadily improved every season while not showing any signs of slowing down.
And then there’s Mauer’s character.
Does he do steroids? We all like to believe the answer is no and it probably is.
Is he known more for his antics off the field than on it? Nope. Honestly, do we even hear about him if it’s not about baseball?
Is he a holier-than-thou douche of an athlete who, now that he “gots paid,” will stop signing autographs for 8-year-old kids or begin shirking his humanitarian duties? Unlikely.
Mauer earned his $184 million. Not only on the baseball field, but off of it.
Not many athletes today can say they’re deserving of the same.