The Twins announced the signing of Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract in Fort Myers, Fla., on March 22, 2010. Mauer was a month short of his 27th birthday, had put together perhaps the greatest season ever for a catcher in 2009, claimed the American League MVP and led the Twins to their fifth playoff appearance in eight seasons.
The Twins also were headed into Target Field, where 2010 would result in a 94-68 record, a sixth AL Central title and an attendance of 3,223,640.
The terms of Mauer’s new contract kicked in for the 2011 season, and so did the worst four-year stretch of baseball in this franchise’s Minnesota history.
This is not an attempt to feed the Mauer bashing that has been a statewide craze since early in the 2011 schedule; rather, Joe’s signing in March 2010 creates an interesting timeline for the mostly failed attempts by local pro franchises to find success by paying huge contracts.
We’re talking huge contracts here, not NFL deals that guarantee $20 million or less for players such as Chad Greenway, Everson Griffen and Kyle Rudolph and free agent Greg Jennings (a full-blown failure).
Go back to March 2010 and the Vikings have tendered one huge contract: the seven-year deal with Adrian Peterson in September 2011 that guaranteed $36 million in the total of $100 million.
Peterson was the MVP in 2012, and the Vikings went 10-6 to reach the playoffs. With a 25-39-1 record (including one playoff loss) since the deal, both the Peterson contract and the Vikings are failures.
For the Twins, the Mauer contract has been a failure, as have huge deals with free-agent pitchers Ricky Nolasco and suspended Ervin Santana.
Everything the Wolves do contract-wise becomes a failure: not paying Kevin Love the maximum; signing unhealthy players, Nikola Pekovic and Ricky Rubio, to healthy deals.
There has been one team among our big four rewarded for signing players to huge deals: the Wild.
July 4, 2012. Twin contracts for Ryan Suter and Zach Parise. Those signings have made the hockey team heroic in the midst of pathetic losers.
PLUS THREE FROM PATRICK
Other notes on large contracts since the Mauer deal:
• Phil Hughes. The quick extension with the Twins will earn the pitcher $58 million over the next five years. This one might work.
• Mikko Koivu. If Suter and Parise hadn’t come to the rescue, the Wild still would get grief for $47.25 million guaranteed to The Captain.
• Nicolas Batum. Remember when Wolves Broom Closet feared the attempt to sign Batum would cause Portland to go hard after Pekovic? If only …