Twenty-three-year-old Joe Mauer had just headed out to Arizona in preparation for a salary arbitration hearing when he got a contract offer from the Twins. The deal gives him $33 million over the next four years. His salary will climb from $3.25 million the first year to $12.5 million in the final season.
Before Mauer even reached his Arizona destination, he said yes to the deal.
It's a great thing for me, and I'm happy to be a Twin for the next four years.Joe Mauer
"I think both sides came to a happy figure," Mauer said Sunday. "The Twins are happy and I'm happy, and that's pretty much all that matters."
In just a little more than two seasons Mauer has become a rising star. Last season, he became the first catcher to win an American League batting title.
The Minnesota native signed with the Twins shortly after graduating from St. Paul's Cretin -Derham High School in 2001. Mauer says he's pleased to have a contract that will keep him close to home for a while.
"My grandparents have been to every home game, they continue to do that. My parents come to a lot of games, and I have a lot of family and friends in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area," he said". "It's a great thing for me, and I'm happy to be a Twin for the next four years."
Twins management couldn't be reached for comment. But in a statement, Twins general manager Terry Ryan referred to Mauer as a "special player" and the type of person who "you would like to reward when they go out and show you that they are going to get the job done."
Mauer's four-year contract will take him past the date at which he would otherwise be able to test the free agent market. It also sees him through the Twins' opening of a new ballpark, which is slated for 2010.
"I'm going to be there for the opening of it, and hopefully be behind home plate," he said. "I'm pretty excited about it."
For now, Mauer is thinking about shorter term prospects. The Twins spring training camp begins Sunday, and Mauer says he can't wait.