Like Sunday's other major news item, the Joe Mauer extension ranks as a triumph of the downtrodden and signs that all is right in America. Joe Mauer's 8 year, $184 million dollar deal will usher in a new era of homegrown superstars laying root in the ballparks of their arbitration youth, forever dazzling the fans who cheered them as young turks.
You might picture all those zeros and think "wow, that's an impossible amount of money. Good for Joe Mauer" Well you'd be wrong, my chumpish friends. You see, a deal of this magnitude, when signed with your hometown team, isn't just good for Joe Mauer. It is good for all of baseball! Because Joe Mauer took a slightly below-market deal (which is instantly accounted as a hometown discount, not an "8 year deal for a catcher" discount), we're to believe this is the triumph of the mid-market, a sign they can compete for the top talent against the Two Devils of The East.
Interesting that as a full-time Minnesotan (Minnesotan? Land o'Laker? Distant Lapplander?), Joe Mauer himself helped pay for the re-signing of Joe Mauer. The public subsidy pool isn't really fit for swimming, but the Twins build a brand new stadium with oodles of public cash ($372 million of the $517 million total cost, by some accounts), then licensed the naming rights to cuddly superstore for 25 years, netting a cool $100 million dollar cash influx, not to mention all the tax breaks and rebates afforded teams for building new new walleye-on-a-stick stands and presto: off season spending spree!
Let's not hesitate for a second in pointing out w're talking about baseball owners. A more fiendish group of glad-handers you're unlikely to find. I'm confident they're doing their darnedest right now to leverage the Joe Mauer contract into salary cap fodder. "If we could control the remaining contract costs, we'd gladly re-sign Adrian Gonzalez/Andrew McCutchen/Jason Heyward." Hello, baseball's version of the Larry Bird Exception! Teams crying poor isn't going to stop because Joe Mauer signed an astronomical contract with his existing team, just as the massive ticket hikes sure to besiege Target Field in 2013 have nothing to do with the deal he agreed to on Sunday.
Ultimately, this was a decision made by Mauer himself. It's a sign that one guy was willing to stay home for less cash, rather than a willingness of a dozen stingy owners to throw up their hands and say, "nope, can't compete" while pocketing luxury tax payments. Many big name players have re-signed to below market deals before, just as many would step over their own mothers for an extra two mil per annum. This deal isn't any better (or any worse) for baseball than Felix Hernandez's 5-year deal or Vernon Wells' massive extension. Applying any greater significance to the deal because Joe Mauer is extra super-good is foolhardy.