The AL MVP agreed to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension with Minnesota on Sunday that includes a full no-trade clause, a massive deal that shows the Twins are no longer a frugal small-market club.
The deal covers the 2011 to 2018 seasons and is the fourth largest — both in total value and average salary — in Major League history. Starting next season, the All-Star catcher will make an average of $23 million per season.
With the announcement, the entire state of Minnesota can take a deep breath and relax.
Mauer, who has won three AL batting titles and is considered one of the best defensive catchers in the game, was entering the final year of his current contract.
Even though both he and the Twins insisted all along that he would be staying in Minnesota, Twins fans were growing more nervous by the day as negotiations dragged on. But agent Ron Shapiro and Twins brass eventually worked out the deal, ensuring that the hometown favorite wouldn't get lured away by one of the many big spenders that were salivating at the thought of adding the sweet-swinging lefty to their battery after this season.
Then the Twins, who have steadily increased their spending in recent seasons as they prepared to open Target Field in 2010, came through with a staggering package.
The $184 million total worth is fourth behind two deals signed by Alex Rodriguez — the $275 million deal with the Yankees signed in 2008 and a $252 million contract signed with Texas in 2001 — and Derek Jeter's $189 million deal signed with the Yankees in 2001 and expires after this season.
The only players to have a higher average salary than Mauer's $23 million are Roger Clemens ($28,000,022 prorated deal in 2007 — he actually got $17,442,637 — with the Yankees) and Rodriguez, who had average salaries of $25.2 million from 2001 to 2007 and $27.5 million in a deal that runs through 2017.
The St. Paul native was the No. 1 overall pick by the Twins in 2001 and quickly emerged as a fan favorite. Last year, after missing the first month of the season with a back injury, Mauer hit .365 with 28 home runs and 96 RBIs to help the Twins win the AL Central division.