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Deferred money could snag Mauer talks

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN
  • Star Tribune
  • February 15, 2010 - 1:10 AM

While the Yankees and Red Sox have a policy of allowing deferred contracts to players, Twins owner Jim Pohlad made it clear that the Twins operate on the basis of paying players when they perform.

If you want my opinion, if Pohlad stays with this policy, it might cost the Twins the opportunity to sign catcher Joe Mauer.

Recent rumors had Mauer signing a 10-year contract for $200 million, a deal that was denied by the club.

However, for argument's sake, say that figure was true.

If other teams offered Mauer the same contract and deferred a portion of the money for years after Mauer completes his career, Mauer would save millions of dollars in income tax.

It's hard to believe that if Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, demanded a contract with deferred money the Twins wouldn't change their policy. But Pohlad didn't sound like he was going to change the club's approach when he spent time with the local media the other day.

In signing Ichiro Suzuki to a five-year, $90 million extension in July 2007, the Seattle Mariners deferred $25 million at 5.5 percent interest until the first year after the superstar outfielder retired.

The Cincinnati Reds did a similar thing with Ken Griffey Jr. when they signed him to a nine-year, $116.5 million deal in February 2000, deferring $57.5 million of the deal at 4 percent interest, to be paid from 2009 to 2024.

The Twins, Mauer and Mauer's representatives have done a good job of keeping their contract negotiations on the quiet side.

I could be wrong, but I'm convinced that the Twins will have to change their policy on deferred money if Mauer demands it. And why wouldn't he, when it would save him millions of dollars in taxes.

Vikings income up

According to numbers obtained from the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, the Vikings sold 679,874 tickets for their two preseason games, eight regular-season games and one postseason game at home in the 2009 season, a slight increase compared to the total of 671,552 for the 11 games in 2008.

Gross revenue from ticket sales was $57.5 million, up about $2 million from 2008's $55.5 million. Notably, this season's playoff game against Dallas brought in $7.2 million, compared to $5.4 million for the 2007 wild-card game against Philadelphia.

In the 2008 season, the turnstile count of 616,264 was 91.8 percent of the tickets sold. For 2009, the turnstile count was 649,478, 95.5 percent of the tickets sold.

The MSFC reported a lower figure for concession sales in 2009 than '08, though that was because the figures from last month's playoff game vs. the Cowboys were unavailable.

Big demand

To date, nearly 100,000 people have registered for the opportunity to purchase tickets for the first series at Target Field, a three-game set against Boston April 12-15.

Single-game tickets for the balance of the ballpark's inaugural season go on sale March 13.

Single-game tickets to the April 2 and 3 Target Field exhibition games between the Twins and St. Louis go on sale Feb. 23. Look for the Twins to pay tribute to the 3,500-plus construction workers who teamed to build the ballpark before each of the Cardinals games.

Jottings

According to Baseball America, the Twins' top 10 minor league prospects are, 1, outfielder Aaron Hicks; 2, catcher Wilson Ramos; 3, pitcher Kyle Gibson; 4, infielder Miguel Sano; 5, outfielder Ben Revere; 6, third baseman Danny Valencia; 7, pitcher Carlos Gutierrez; 8, outfielder Angel Morales; 9, pitcher David Bromberg; and 10, outfielder Max Kepler. ... General Manager Bill Smith and his staff report to Fort Myers, Fla., on Wednesday for the Twins' 20th spring training in Southwest Florida. Eight of the Twins' 14 spring games at the Lee County Sports Complex are sold out.

Thanks largely to the efforts of Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and his wife, Carol, last week's Northwoods Blizzard Snowmobile Tour held near Duluth raised more than $500,000 for the Minnesota ALS Association. A few days ago, Gardenhire and his son, Toby (a Twins minor leaguer), were the guests of longtime Twins supporter Wheelock Whitney for a round of golf at Augusta National, the home of the Masters.

The Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints have a total of 30 unrestricted or restricted free agents. Meanwhile, the Vikings have only one really important unrestricted free agent in running back Chester Taylor. The Vikings have five unrestricted free agents, but all five are backups: Taylor, cornerback Benny Sapp, offensive lineman Artis Hicks, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy and receiver Greg Lewis.

Rivals.com named Gophers running backs coach and co-offensive coordinator Tom Hammock the top football recruiter in the Big Ten. ... The Gophers spring game will be held at TCF Bank Stadium on April 24.

Timberwolves draft choice Ricky Rubio was chosen as FIBA Europe's Young Men's Player of the Year for the third consecutive season Wednesday. The No. 5 overall pick in the 2009 NBA draft helped Spain capture its first EuroBasket gold medal in September. "It's difficult to come up with new ways of praising Ricky Rubio," FIBA Europe President George Vassilakopoulos said. ... On Saturday, NBA TV will feature Rubio's Barcelona team facing 2008 Wolves second-round draft choice Niklola Pekovic's Panathinaikos team.

Two Wolves players were spotted at their old college arenas on Saturday, with NBA players off for the All-Star break. Wolves rookie guard Wayne Ellington was at the Smith Center in Chapel Hill, N.C., along with Ty Lawson, the Wolves draft pick traded to the Denver Nuggets on draft night. North Carolina hung Ellington's No. 22 and Lawson's No. 5 in the rafters Saturday during the Tar Heels' victory over North Carolina State. Those two numbers are among the 38 that the Tar Heels program has hung up but not officially retired. Ellington was the Most Outstanding Player at last year's Final Four, when North Carolina won the national championship. Meanwhile, Wolves forward Alando Tucker was at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis., with New York Knicks rookie Marcus Landry, watching Wisconsin dismantle Indiana. The two former Badgers honored two of this year's teams seniors by wearing their jerseys; Tucker wore Trevon Hughes' No. 3 and Landry wore Jason Bohannon's No. 12. Tucker, Wisconsin's all-time leading scorer, also can watch the Badgers again when they visit Williams Arena on Thursday night, a game that is a must-win for the Gophers if they want to return to the NCAA tournament.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on WCCO AM-830 at 6:40, 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. • shartman@startribune.com

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