There's been plenty of talk about "locking up" Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer to a long term contract. The fans thinkg the Twins need to lock them up. The media thinks the Twins need to lock them up. Even the Twins seemingly think they need to lock them up.
But what if they don't want to be locked up?
Put yourself in their shoes. Morneau has already received a $5 million payday, so he's set for life in any case. Plus, he's guaranteed another $7.5 million, whether he goes blind tomorrow or not. That's $12.5 million.
If he continues to play at the same level for the next couple of years, he'll get $10 million in 2009 and $12 million (at least) in 2010. And this isn't really negotiable, because either the Twins willl agree to pay him that or the arbitrator will force the Twins to pay him that. We're at $34 million. About the only way he doesn't get that $34 million is if he has a career-ending injury this year. And then he still has that $12 million to fall back on.
And then things get REALLY good. Because he's going to be a former MVP, and a left-handed slugger that is just 29 years old. Given the escalation of salaries, he could very well be looking at a 7-year, $100-$130 million contract at that point. And that might be low.
So here's my question - just what the hell do you offer him? What exactly are you bringing to the table?
You're going to need to pay, and pay well, to buy out those first couple years of free agency, because there's a big difference between hitting the market when you're 29 and when you're 30+ years old. And don't think that guaranteed money you're dishing out is going to be buying much in the way of a break on the yearly salaries. Your return is delaying free agency - nothing more and nothing less. And there had better be enough back-end guaranteed money to make it worth Morneau's time to delay free agency.
I'll go with:
$8M for 2008
$10M for 2009
$12M for 2010
$14M for 2011
$15M for 2012
$16M team options for 2013 with a fairly big buyout - say $3M
That gives him a five year deal for $62 million, with a possible additional year that would bring the value to $75 million. It also allows him to test the free agent market while he's still 31 or 32 years old, so he can secure another long-term deal.
A $60 million payday seems like it could get him and his agent's attention, and even keep them from tasting that delicious early free agency. But on the other hand, I wouldn't blame them if it didn't interest them, and if they wanted to keep the status quo. After all, which of us likes to be locked up?