There were likely many fans and front office people around baseball delighted to see catcher Joe Mauer sign his megabucks contract with the Twins. Mauer's eight-year, $184 million deal tops even Mark Teixeira's eight-year, $180-million package. By the way, Mauer's OPS last year was 1.031 to Tex's .948. Jason Stark of ESPN wrote that if Mauer had made it to free agency, the Yankees and Red Sox may have upped the bidding to 30 million per year for Mauer. Only A-Rod and Derek Jeter have ever been given richer contracts. But Mauer did earn a big deal, of course, by winning two Gold Gloves, last year's AL MVP award and three batting titles in the last four seasons. There is always risk with the Twins on the hook for that much money. But Mauer hit .365-28-96 last summer and won't turn 27 until April 19. He is heading into what should be the prime years of his career. The Twins had the pressure on them to sign the hometown kid and they got it done. Now Mauer is signed through 2018. Something would have seemed terribly wrong if the Minnesota product left the Twins. The contract should not keep the club from signing others. The Twins estimate increasing their payroll to 100 million now that they have a new stadium and 77 million per year for 24 other players should be enough to produce a winner. Since Matt Wieters has been compared to Mauer, O's fans naturally wonder if Wieters will be in position to get a contract like that someday. Of course that is way down the road and if Wieters wins Gold Gloves, batting titles and an MVP award, he will get a huge contract someday. Mauer signed this deal after his sixth year in the Majors. With Wieters entering just his second year, this talk can wait quite a while. But for fun, if you check Mauer's stats for his first full Major League season in 2005 vs. Wieters' 2009 year, they look rather similar. Mauer 2005: .294-9-55 in 489 AB.......372 OBP.....411 slugging.....131 games. Wieters 2009: .288-9-43 in 354 AB.....340 OBP.....412 slugging.......98 games. An O's fan can dream that Wieters will turn into a Mauer-like talent, but for now, we probably don't need to burden him with that kind of pressure. The best news for an O's fan is that today there is one less elite player on the market for the Yankees to salivate over. They have some promising catching prospects in their farm system and may actually have to use one of them rather than just buy a All-Star for 2011 and beyond.
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