Now that Mauer finally signed, there are mutterings about how much he will cost the Twins over the next 9 years. There is no doubt that this contract will be a constraint on the Twins payroll. Any large contract is. But if you consider that the Twins current payroll is about $30 million higher than last year, Mauer's contract still leaves them ahead of the last decade in terms of space on the payroll. And its not clear that this year's payroll is really the limit to what the Twins can spend. Some of that will depend on how attendance and spending at the new stadium hold up over the next few years as its newness wears off. And signing Mauer was no-doubt part of the strategy for keeping attendance up. This was a good business decision.
The other question is whether it was a good baseball decision. A lot of comparisons have been made to other players - Mauer got the fourth richest contract in history. But the scary thing about Joe Mauer is he may not have reached his potential yet. He is only 26 and his power numbers are likely to increase. Last year he hit a.most 30 home runs while missing a month of the season. He has the potential to win the triple crown as a hitter while continuing to be the best defensive player at the games most demanding position. Especially with better on base guys at the top of the order and with Morneau hitting behind him. If that happens, Mauer may contend with Babe Ruth as the best player to ever play the game. And Twins fans can spend the next nine years talking like Yankee fans about whether their hometown team will be able to win the World Series, instead of whether they can get into the playoffs.