Is Joe Mauer like Kevin Garnett? It’s one of the questions that was impossible to ignore while watching Garnett fillet the Minnesota Timberwolves last night. Garnett, the best in the business, was paid a ton of money to stay and play basketball in flyover country. But then he tired of not winning championships because there wasn’t much money left for the team to spend on other players that might accomplish that.
Last night, of course, the New York Yankees won the World Series and as Yankee catcher Jorge Posada was interviewed afterwards, it was impossible to ignore the fact that (a) he’s old and (b) he’s old and (c) Joe Mauer of the Minnesota Twins isn’t.
The Twins will be rolling in cash, thanks to the new stadium that taxpayers paid for with the assurances that it would help the team remain competitive with the likes of the New York Yankees. Why we believed any team can remain competitive with the New York Yankees is a story for another day, but Minnesotans are possibly about to go through what hopeful fans in Cleveland — the long goodbye.
Mauer’s contract with the Twins ends next year. Because he’s the best in the business, he’ll get — as Garnett did — a pile of of cash to stay, unless it becomes obvious that won’t leave the Twins with enough money to surround him with good players in which case — and in consideration of his age — he may want to go off to New York to win a World Series.
Don’t think it’s just people in Minnesota thinking about this. But there’s hope, according to Evans Clinchy of New England Sports Network:
When dealing with an unprecedented, unparalleled talent like Mauer, the best strategy is to lock him down long-term, as soon as possible, no matter what the price. Mauer might cost the Twins a lot now, but it’ll cost them even more to lose him to Boston or New York. The open market is a scary proposition.
Unless the Twins have a death wish, re-signing Mauer should be a top priority for the Twins’ front office this offseason. And according to MLB.com’s Twins beat writer Kelly Thesier, it is.
Thesier writes that “the club is committed to getting a deal in place with Mauer,” and that “the key will be structuring the deal so that they can continue to add talent around Mauer in the coming seasons to keep the club competitive, as he’s made it clear that winning is high on his priority list.”
If a deal can’t be reached, Joe may never play in the House That Joe Built. Baseball teams are now trading their free agents a full year before their contracts expire.