Mauer Signed to 4-Year Deal
There was one thing that catcher Joe Mauer couldn't wait to tell Twins general manager Terry Ryan when he talked to him on Sunday morning -- that he couldn't be more excited to be behind the plate for the opening of the team's new ballpark.
Mauer gave himself that opportunity when he agreed to a four-year, $33 million deal with the club on Sunday. The contract will keep the St. Paul native in Minnesota through at least the 2010 season, when the team's new ballpark is scheduled to open.
"To know that I'll be playing in Minnesota for the next four years is a great feeling," Mauer said. "Just to be able to be behind the plate when the new stadium opens is something that I'm really looking forward to. Growing up here as a fan, I've been waiting for an outdoor stadium. And having watched all that's transpired to get it, it's going to be special to be playing when it opens."
Mauer, 23, became the first catcher to win an American League batting title and the first catcher to lead the Majors in hitting with a .347 average last season, along with 13 home runs and 84 RBIs. It was a season full of accolades for the No. 1 pick in the 2001 First-Year Player Draft as he was also named to the AL All-Star team.
All offseason the Twins had made clear that one of their goals was to sign some of their young talent to long-term deals and Mauer's contract was the first that the club was able to accomplish.
Given his accomplishments, and how much he'd be likely to command on the market in a couple of years, this is (barring injury/sudden suckage) a good deal for all concerned. It's a lot of money for such a young player, but the Twins are not in a position where they can afford to lose someone who puts as many butts in the Metrodome's hideous seats as Mauer does. It's profit-sharing, really.
Now, if we can lock down Morneau and Santana next offseason, we might be onto something...