Mauer contract a big risk the Twins had to take

Leave a comment

Joe Mauer’s new eight-year extension is worth $100 million more than any other contract the Twins have ever handed out and committing to pay a catcher $23 million per year through his age-35 season in 2018 represents a massive amount of risk.
With that said, it was a no-brainer.
First and foremost, if reasonably healthy Mauer should be worth the $23 million per season for most of the deal. Through his first five full seasons in the majors Mauer was worth an average of $22 million per year according to Fan Graphs’ player valuation system, including $26 million in 2008 and $36.6 million while winning the AL MVP in 2009.
As a catcher with previous knee and back injuries Mauer is at a far higher risk to decline or age poorly than most players, but it’s tough to worry too much about how the deal might look come 2017 or 2018 when the Twins’ new ballpark is opening next month. After all, Target Field was built in large part to help the Twins increase their revenue and payroll enough to support retaining star players as they neared free agency.
As a 27-year-old native Minnesotan and former No. 1 overall pick coming off an MVP season Mauer fits the “star” bill about as well as humanly possible, so if ever the Twins were going to over-commit this would be the time. Ultimately even with Target Field they’re likely to remain in the middle of the payroll pack, so $184 million is a scary number, but it’s certainly a fair deal relative to the eight-year, $180 million contract Mark Teixeira signed with the Yankees last offseason.
Plus, it would have been sad if the people of Minnesota burned down Target Field after just one season.

Clayton Kershaw completes spring training with a 0.00 ERA

Getty Images

Clayton Kershaw had nothing left to prove when he exited the mound during his last Cactus League start on Friday. He finished camp with a 0.00 ERA, made all the more impressive after he extended his scoreless streak to 21 1/3 innings following 6 2/3 frames of one-hit ball against the Royals.

In six spring training starts this year, the Dodgers southpaw racked up 12 hits, four walks and 23 strikeouts. His velocity appeared to fluctuate between the high-80s and low-90s from start to start, but manager Dave Roberts told reporters that he expects Kershaw to get back up to the 93 m.p.h. range next week. Kershaw is tabbed for his eighth consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday.

The 30-year-old lefty is poised to enter his 11th season with the club in 2018. He went 18-4 in 27 starts last year and turned in a 2.31 ERA, 1.5 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 over 175 innings. He suffered his fair share of bumps and bruises along the way, including a lower back strain that required a five-week stay on the disabled list.

The Dodgers will open their season against the Giants on Thursday, March 29 at 7:08 PM ET. Given the sudden rash of injuries that hit the Giants’ rotation earlier today, Kershaw’s Opening Day opponent has not yet been announced.