Sunday, March 21, 2010

Twins Sign Mauer and What That Portends for Vikings

On Sunday, the Minnesota Twins inked star catcher Joe Mauer to an eight-year $184 million contract. It's not Vikings' news, but it may influence the Vikings in some respect in the future by helping to establish the market for players in this market--even if, as expected, the NFL returns to cap rules.

By signing Mauer to an extension at only somewhat of a hometown discount, the Twins are acknowledging that they have both the means and the need to keep cornerstone players off of the market, even if it means paying well. That has not previously been the case for the local nine, who only twice before, with Kent Hrbek and Kirby Puckett, even came remotely close to breaking open the piggy bank. And in neither of those cases did the Twins come anywhere near reaching this type of deal.

The Twins' signing of Mauer is yet another sign of the largess that pro baseball teams enjoy when they field a reasonably competitive team. Though the Vikings unquestionably will point to the Mauer deal as indicative of what can happen when a team benefits from the revenue streams created by a new stadium, Vikings' fans have sufficient ammunition, should the need arise, to argue that the Twins were able to sign Mauer, with the benefit of the new stadium revenue, but without the substantially greater benefit accruing to all NFL teams as a result of the NFL's numerous television deals.

In short, what Mauer's signing does for Vikings' fans is signal that, even in an uncapped system, the Vikings have no excuse--not even that of operating out of an "outdated" stadium where they enjoy naming rights, free rent, and other kickbacks, in addition to their own revenue streams from the league and fans--for not continuing to put a strong product on the field.

As the Wilf's continue their quest for a new stadium, spending money in their effort to demonstrate their commitment to the team and market, that point might appear irrelevant. It is, however, one worth keeping in one's back pocket for that day when the Wilf's might enjoy a new stadium and might also be operating in either an uncapped environment or one in which there exists a great disparity between the salary cap and the salary floor.

Up Next: Time to Move.

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