Joe Mauer Signed His Big Contract OTD In 2010… Was It Worth It?
On this day in 2010, just days away from the opening of Target Field, the Twins announced they had signed Joe Mauer to an eight year contract worth $184,000,000... a staggering number for the Twins even today let alone 13 full years ago.
Mauer was coming off of an MVP season in 2009 that saw him win a third batting title with a ridiculous .365 batting average to go with 29 home runs and 96 runs batted in. All of those numbers were career-highs at the time.
However, those numbers also ended up being his career highs at the end of his career as well. In some fans' minds, the Twins overpaid for Mauer (although ZERO people held that opinion at the time the deal was announced). With Mauer set to appear on the Hall Of Fame ballot for the first time this year, let's try to decided whether Mauer's deal was an overpay or, a great deal for the Twins.
First things first: The Twins MADE plenty of money from Joe Mauer over the years he played on the team despite whatever perceived statistical drop-off he endured in the later years of the deal. The Twins were abysmal for most of Mauer's deal, which kicked in during the 2011 season. If not for the marketable hometown boy on the team, the Twins would really have had nothing to offer the fans for the better part of the decade.
On the field, FanGraphs says Joe Mauer was worth $138.9 million from 2011 through his retirement/end of contract in 2018. During that time Mauer produced 18.8 Wins Above Replacement, which is where the $138+ figure comes from. Some seasons, like 2013, he far outperformed his contract based on those metrics. Sometimes he came up well short.
The fact is that the Twins had a hometown hero on their team during some of the worst seasons in team history. He was a draw and most people who bought jerseys went with Mauer's #7. A few years ago ticket sales for the Twins Caravan stop were lagging, until they put Mauer on the bill. Tickets sold out within 24 hours. There is simply no denying Mauer's popularity in Minnesota.
Coming off an MVP season and heading into its first season in a taxpayer-funded stadium, NOT re-signing Mauer would have triggered a massive outcry from the people of Minnesota.
While Mauer may have never exactly produced another season like that magical 2009 year in the Metrodome, he still proved to be a great value for the Twins.