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Who had the better weekend: The Minnesota Twins, 2009 American League MVP Joe Mauer, or Major League Baseball (MLB) commissioner Bud Selig?
While the Twins re-signed its All-Star catcher Joe Mauer to a new eight-year, $184 million contract extension (the richest contract ever awarded to a catcher), it was MLB (and the fans) that really came away on top in this deal. The last thing MLB needed was for another star player to leave a small franchise (Twins have the 7th lowest payroll in baseball at $65 million) for a new city and to literally cash-in on as much money as possible. But with Mauer, 27, giving the Twins somewhat of a hometown discount, crisis was averted. And it would have been a crisis. Here’s why:
Mauer grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He went to the same high school as former Twins great Paul Molitor, where in 2001 he became the only athlete ever to be selected by USA Today as the High School Player of the Year in two sports (baseball and football). Since being drafted as the No. 1 pick that year by the Twins, Mauer has been a three-time batting champion and is regarded as one of the best catchers in the history of the sport. Bottomline, the low-spending Twins had no choice but to do whatever it needed to do in order to keep him from jumping ship at the end of the season, and you have to give it up to the Pohlad family (Twins ownership) for stepping up to the plate (pun intended), and for Mauer for resisting the temptation of the open market and getting a deal done.
Now, we have to remember that this is a unique case. I don’t expect other teams, or players for that matter, to follow suit and do what the Twins and Mauer did. But for the moment, Bud Selig doesn’t have to worry about reading negative press regarding another hometown hero leaving his roots for a bigger city with a thicker wallet.