Nobody would argue that he's overpaid, either. If anything, most experts believe that Mauer could have made even more money if he opted to hit the open market in the offseason.
Still, it's worth wondering just how valuable Mauer is. Fortunately, The Wall Street Journal is pretty good with numbers, and the newspaper took a closer look at what $23 million can get an MLB team in 2010.
The answer? A team of nine players who are pretty good.
The Journal used the metric of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), which determines how many more wins a player can contribute than an average player.
The hypothetical team — along with the players' real teams, salaries and WAR — is:
Starting pitcher: James Shields, Rays, $2.5 million, 4.1 WAR
Catcher: Miguel Olivo, Rockies, $2 million, 2.1 WAR
First base: Russell Branyan, Indians, $2 million, 2.8 WAR
Second base: David Eckstein, Padres, $1 million, 0.7 WAR
Third base: Adam Kennedy, Nationals, $1.3 million, 1.7 WAR
Shortstop: Cesar Izturis, Orioles, $2.6 million, 1.2 WAR
Left field: David DeJesus, Royals, $4.7 million, 3.3 WAR
Center field: Marlon Byrd, Cubs, $3 million, 2.4 WAR
Right field: Jack Cust, Athletics, $2.7 million, 1.1 WAR
Total 2010 salary: $21.8 million
Total WAR: 19.4
Compare that to Mauer's $23 million salary and 8.1 WAR, and, well, the kid from St. Paul is still worth the money.
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