Twins CEO Jim Pohlad sat down with the team's beat writers at Target Field today for a wide-ranging Q&A session. He said the team promised catcher Joe Mauer and his agent, Ron Shapiro, that they wouldn't discuss their negotiations.
Speaking in general terms, Pohlad did say that the Twins remain opposed to giving players deferred compensation. This is something that could come up in Mauer's extension talks, since both sides are trying to find ways to pay Mauer's salary and still build a winner around him.
If Mauer were to make $25 million per year, for example, the Twins could pay him $20 million and defer $5 million down the road with interest. But the Twins have not delved into deferred compensation for at least a decade and have no plans on changing their philosophy.
"There’s a ton of real-life examples of that kind of thinking," Pohlad said. "It’s either going to be somebody else’s problem, or we’ll worry about that later. And eventually you’ve got to worry about it. And at that point, when you’ve got to worry about it, it affects your current operation. So it’s really not a good thing. You’ve got to pay the money no matter what, you might as well do it while a player's playing for you."
For now, the longest Twins contract is Justin Morneau's six-year, $80 million deal, but Pohlad is not opposed to signing a player for a longer term.
"I don’t think that six is a magic number in any situation," Pohlad said. "Each deal is different. It’s always a function of term and dollars per year, but total value is what drives it. We do not have a term policy."
Last month, at TwinsFest, a fan asked Pohlad during a radio interview, "When are you going to tell [GM] Bill Smith to sign Mauer?"
"We all tell him that," Pohlad said Monday. "We’re all driven from that because we want Joe Mauer as a part of the Minnesota Twins."
The Twins' projected Opening Day payroll is at $96 million, up from $65 million last season. Asked if the new payroll level was sustainable with the team moving into Target Field, Pohlad said, "It’s all a function of our revenue. We try to keep [the payroll] within 50 percent of our revenue range. So model-wise, it would indicate that it’s sustainable.
"We’re not going to spend the money just to spend the money, though. It wouldn’t hurt if it dropped below [this level], in my opinion, occasionally, but we’re going to try to put the best team on the field at the most prudent financial way, and I think we accomplished that this year. I think we’re getting, on paper at least, our money’s worth."
We'll have more from Pohlad's interview in tonight's first editions.