Pop quiz: Mauer’s health

Signing any player to a long-term deal is a roll of the dice.

Signing a catcher to an eight-year, $184 million contract is playing Russian roulette.

Doing so in a market that isn’t among the nation’s largest is akin to playing the lottery and counting on winning to fund your lavish indulgences.

The mid-market Minnesota Twins inked Joe Mauer to that mega-deal mentioned above in March, 2010, with the contract terms kicking in this season. While Mauer had appeared in over 130 games in five of the last six seasons (and 109 in the sixth), won an MVP award the season before signing his huge contract and has been widely considered the best catcher in the game the last several years, the Twins still took on a significant amount of risk.

Mauer has had knee injuries and other bumps and bruises throughout his career. And the fact that he’s a catcher comes with inherently-greater injury risks, as Buster Posey can attest.

The Twins are on the hook for the full $184 million, that’s indisputable. But the question is, how much of that investment will the team recoup via Mauer’s performance? Will he justify the deal, as so rarely happens with stratospheric free agent contracts? Or will he be yet another data point that these long-term pacts often hamstring teams, saddling them with injured and/or underperforming players in the later years?

Given we’re talking about performance through 2018, let’s examine the subject in a broad-based manner by asking:

{exp:freeform:form form_name=”Mauer_healthy_seasons”prevent_duplicate_on=”ip_address” return=”http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/forms/thanks/”}

How many healthy seasons will Joe Mauer have in his eight-year deal?

Zero: Life is pain. Anyone who says differently is selling something.
1 – 2: Healthy? You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
3 – 4: It just so happens that your friend here is only mostly dead.
5 – 6: If you haven’t got your health, then you haven’t got anything.
Seven: Think it’ll work? It would take a miracle.


I’ll be back with the results Friday. Until then, have fun storming the castle!

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  1. Brad Johnson said...

    It depends how quickly they move him out from behind the plate. If Morneau’s struggles are the result of his concussion problems, then Mauer will soon have first base to occupy.

    I think a better question is, how many of those dollars will the Twins recoup? I think Mauer’s presence can be expected to provide about 140-150 mil in revenues.

  2. zak said...

    The risk inherent in signing a 6’4 230 lb catcher with an injury history to a 23 million dollar per year contract is obviously vast but the twins were in a position where they could do little else he is their number 1 draft pick hometown hero who is a figurehead of the state.  Mauer will have many productive seasons in Minnesota the question is how many of them will be catching another injury like this one and the organization will be forced to confront that.  Even though a the base of his contract is that he can hit like he does and play catcher even moving him to another position you retain his play (probably at a healthier and more productive rate when not hampered with the rigors of catching) and the immense amount of fanfare and hometown pride that he provides.  Is he worth 23 million a year to any other team in the league? no but to the twins hes worth every penny.

  3. Duane Wallin said...

    I go along with Brad and Zak.  The Twins had no choice but to sign Joe.  You almost have to be from Minnesota to understand the thinking of a Twins fan.  There have been many that have bashed Joe for his injuries this season but I figure those people haven’t bought many tickets and just put negative stuff out there.  If you believed them there should have been a boo so loud it could be heard in NY.  Instead the sell out crowd rose to their feet and cheered loudly.  Home town boy!  It is also hard to dismiss an MVP and three batting titles and that is from the catching position.  As for staying at catcher you also have to understand the Mauer family.  They don’t give up easily.  Grampa and Dad are pretty hard nosed blue collar people. When you add in all the athletic uncles and cousins and brothers there is a lot of testosterone floating around.
    My guess is that Joe will catch for at least 4 years.  He is one of the best and the lessons learned from this year, hopefully, won’t be repeated.  I think Joe and the Twins got caught with their pants down on this one.

  4. Duane said...

    One more thing.  The Twins make a ton of money on all the athletic gear sold with Joe’s name on it.  My best friend is the Twins curator and owns most of the Twins memorabilia that is displayed at Target Field.  He knows more about the Twins, being a collector since 1961, that anyone connected to the Twins.  He contends that Joe is worth more than his contract in what he produces in Twins gear.  He is the go between the players and everyone else.  He says that the most important contract signed by a Twins player was Harmon.  The next is Mauer.  I believe that he knows about the inner working of things and maybe Joe is worth more than the 23 million.

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