When I first learned that Joe Mauer was up for free agency in 2010, I assumed that he'd likely go for a mega-contract with the Yankees (or perhaps some other big market team). Either that or he'd give a home town discount to stay with the Twins.
Joe Mauer is undoubtedly a great talent, evidenced by his 2 gold gloves and 3 batting crowns in just 5 MLB seasons. But he's a catcher, and they tend to break down sooner than other positions. Plus Mauer has already had injury problems, including just last year. To me, it seemed crazy for the small market Twins to invest so heavily in a catcher with a history for nagging injuries.
But I've had some more time to consider this deal, and I've done a 180. Not from a baseball standpoint, but from a business perspective. In Joe Mauer, the Minnesota Twins have landed marketing gold. He's more than just a local hero who will fill their new stadium--which I'm sure the organization feels much pressure to fill--he's also become a national icon.
I don't know the details of the Twins' finances or how they figure Mauer's value to their organization. But my hunch is that they've done the math and concluded that, from a marketing standpoint, he's a good bet to be worth more than $184 million.