Monday, March 22, 2010
Thoughts on the Mauer deal
At the start of training camp, I devoted the print column and about 15 posts to the question: How long can a premium catcher be expected to perform at a premium level?
I concluded that Joe Mauer has six prime seasons ahead of him.
His new contract — which takes effect with the 2011 season — means the Twins expect nine. This one and the eight for which he is to be paid $23 million apiece, taking him through his age 35 season. That is ancient for a superstar catcher.
Mauer is a unique athlete with unprecedented achievements already on his resume. Expecting nine prime-time seasons out of him is expecting a lot.
This is a risky contract for the Twins. There is no risk for Mauer. He is a catcher getting a historically large salary over a historically long time.
It is defensible for the organization viewpoint in this regard: He has an established level, difficult as it is to swallow, that makes $23 million look like a bargain. Fangraphs' player valuation system puts his 2009 season as worth more than $36 million, his 2008 season at $26 million.
You can take such estimates of value for whatever you think they're worth. If you accept them as accurate, then he may well overperform his deal in the front end by more than he underperforms it in the final years.