What is the immediate lesson to be learned from recent history?
That the Twins should sign Joe Mauer to a long-term deal as quickly as possible, because this is the rare athlete our local teams can't afford to trade, or lose, under any circumstances.
Easier said than done. The difference between the guys we reviewed on Friday and Mauer is that Mauer could not be much harder to sign to a deal beyond his contract that ends after 2010. In fact, when you look at the deals, it might be impossible. Here's what the Twins would need to overcome:
This is the obvious one, right? Consider that Ivan Rodriguez and Jorge Posada both received $13 million/year contracts within the last couple of years. That puts the the starting bid for Mauer at $14M. And climbing.
Oh, and it's not like the offer of giving him guaranteed money early is particularly enticing. Mauer isn't exactly looking for two nickels to rub together. He's already in the middle of a contract that is paying him $33 million. And that's not including the $5 million signing bonus that he got just for getting drafted. Is an extra $28 million, two-year extension really going to be all that appealing? Not given...
Joe Mauer will be just 27 years old when he becomes a free agent. That means that any team signing him will be singing him for the prime years of his career, and will bid accordingly. They can also have confidence that he'll be productive offensively for the length of a very long contract, meaning lots of guaranteed years.
For instance, the Yankees just signed Mark Teixera an 8-year deal, and he was a year older than Mauer will be. And that contract also had a full no-trade clause, giving him...
Freedom of Choice
A no-trade clause would almost be mandatory, since Mauer isn't going to want to accept a trade to just any team. Especially if he signs with the Twins because it's his hometown.
But it goes further than that. There were a few instance this year where premier free agents also received opt-out clauses in their contract. That way, if things go south for an organization, or salaries soar, or if a player just wants to have some leverage with his head coach, he can opt out of his contract early.
Considering that the Twins tend to rebuild every couple of years, and that their inaction this offseason doesn't exactly scream "commitment to winning", can you imagine an opt-out not being included? And then, do you really have a long-term deal? For instance, if there is an opt-out clause after 2012, aren't we having this same conversation two years from now?
So Do You REALLY Want To Sign Him?
Try and digest all of the above. So you really want to sign Mauer? If so, you had better bring a monster offer, something like this....
Keep the two year deal you still have in place:
2009 - $10.5M
2010 - $12.5M
Add a seven-year extension with escalating pay:
2011 - $14M
2012 - $15M
2013 - $16M
2014 - $17M
2015 - $18M
2016 - $19M
2017 - $20M
That's essentiall a nine-year, $142 million contract. It will also need to have a full no-trade clause. And it will likely need to have opt-out clauses when he's 28 (after 2011) and 31 (after 2014). Meaning you'll be talking about him possibly opting out for most of then next six years.
And if he ends up having knee problems again, or never hits for power, or never really tries to hit for power, that is the team's problem, not Joe's. That money is guaranteed.
Still convinced they need to sign Joe as soon as possible?