Could Mauer’s Deal Impact Fielder?

Joe Mauer's contract sent a ripple though baseball over the weekend, as it effectively shed Minnesota's "small market team" label. Not only was it fourth largest contract in baseball history, but it was also the largest contract ever signed by a catcher. As Satchel Price at Beyond The Box Score shows, it's not even close.

Could Mauer's deal have a trickle down affect on Prince Fielder, who is two years away from free agency? Tom Haudricourt of The Journal Sentinel spoke to several members of the Brewers' organization about the possibility, including Prince himself. When asked if he thought about how Mauer's deal effects him, Fielder replied "Not really because I don't really think about it. I'm just focused on getting ready. It doesn't really make me think about myself. It's just cool for him."

GM Doug Melvin responded with the rather boring (yet true) line of “You can keep anybody if you want to pay the market price." Milwaukee already has its other franchise player, Ryan Braun, locked up through 2015 at more than affordable annual salaries, though if they give Fielder a Mauer-esque contract, they'll have roughly 40% of their payroll tied up in just two players, assuming they maintain the same $80MM payroll they've had the last two seasons.

Of course, the differences between Mauer and Fielder are obvious. Mauer plays the more premium position and doesn't share the same long-term concerns about his size and athleticism. He also has more hardware, and doesn't employ Scott Boras as an agent. Both are among the best young players in the game, no doubt, but in the end, we're talking about a unique situation when it comes to Joe Mauer because of his status as a true homegrown player.

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22 Comments on "Could Mauer’s Deal Impact Fielder?"

5 years 5 months ago

I don’t see the same kind of deal happening for Fielder. He’ll get his, but not like this. Fielder is not a once-in-a-generation player, like Mauer or Pujols, but he’s an All-Star and will get a lot of money from someone. Pujols will, WILL, make over $30mil/yr when he signs his next contract.

5 years 5 months ago

Whew, I’m glad someone could look into the future and clear that up about Pujols.

By the way, what’s the mega millions numbers for next week? Oh, and where were you when I picked Kansas in my bracket?!

5 years 5 months ago

i actually picked northern iowa! can’t believe i actually pulled that one off. i’m now 50 dollars richer.

5 years 5 months ago

No need to be a know it all, Levi.

A $30 million prediction for Pujols seems like a sensible opinion, and even if not, who cares?

5 years 5 months ago

I would hope the Brewers can sign him to a deal that has a length to Prince’s and the team’s liking and pays him nicely, but acknowledges that he is a different type of player than Mauer and has had a different level of success. So maybe the deal wouldn’t be as rich as Mauer’s. But hopefully the Brewers could raise their payroll a bit so the percentage tied up to Fielder and Braun would not be staggering. The non-big-market teams need to be able to sign their homegrown talent…otherwise it’s easy to be pessimistic about the future of MLB in general. The mid and small market teams would do a lot better overall if their ‘windows for success’ could be extended from 3 years to 5 or 6 years while having a core team intact for a stretch.

5 years 5 months ago

Simple answer is no because of Boras. Precedent or not he would have asked for over $20M a year for Fielder anyway. Though I think Miguel Cabrera’s contract might be a more likely comparison.

5 years 5 months ago

The agent’s role is somewhat overblown. Granted there’s a huge gap in approach between Shapiro and Boras but Shapiro had a telling quote, which said something like if the player wants to stay somewhere he [Shapiro] would find a way to get it done. So, if Fielder wanted to stay there are ways Milwaukee could afford it. Bottom line is Mauer wanted to stay but also wanted to get paid. The Brewers have seen players, although on a totally different level, leave because of money (for example, Coco Cordero taking a few million more to sign with CIN), so I think if Fielder wants the maximum dollar amount, he’ll go elsewhere. But it’s ultimately the player’s choice; it’s not like if Fielder said ‘I want to stay’ that he’s incapable of having Boras follows his wishes if there’s the possibility of an extension in terms of dollars.

5 years 5 months ago

I think Prince has already declared what his priority will be at contract time. He did it when he hired Boras. There is a wide range of agents out there, and they have a lot of different approaches to the job. Some are quiet, some look for the money, some are confrontational and some stay invisible.

You can tell Scott Boras to take the hometown deal, but honestly that’s not the type of job you hire him for. Scott takes a riskier path (holdouts, last minute negotiations, etc) in a quest for every last dollar available. He prefers the open market to staying in the same town, and isn’t too concerned about being “poorly thought of” if it gets his guy the big contract. Shapiro doesn’t do that sort of thing, and while you may not get all the money the Yankees have, you can preserve the relationship with your team and rake in a pretty good pile in the process.

Just like Fielder is a great hitter with strengths and weaknesses to his game (great power, only good average), there are aspects of each agent’s game that are stronger or weaker. Before choosing an agent players talk a lot and look at what contracts other clients have signed and how the process went. If Prince wanted to make MIL his home long term, well, Boras is more about the HR than the high average so this might be taking him out of his comfort zone. I’m thinking he hired Boras to swing the bat and it’ll be hard for MIL to match up.

5 years 5 months ago

Fielder will not get near that many years in his deal. He’s destined to fall flat on his face in 4 or 5 years if he doesn’t get his weight under control. He will not be able to continue like he has when he gets older. I wouldn’t commit to more than 3 or 4 years of him right now. He’s a train wreck waiting to happen.

5 years 5 months ago

I couldn’t agree more.

“though if they give Fielder a Mauer-esque contract…” who would be so dumb as to do that? With all due respect, is the writer high? I can’t believe these two players are even mentioned in the same sentence.

5 years 5 months ago

Give Fielder Mo Vaughn’s deal.

5 years 5 months ago

You know, first off, I’d like to congratulate Satch, right here and now, he posts under the name “scribbletone” here. His analysis is great, but I think it needs a slight tweak that I’ll add in for him: Inflation. I’m doubting it makes any significant difference, but, I think this is more interesting. For the purposes of this independent study, Mauer’s contract remains at 8/184. After all, to say Reggie Jackson’s 2.4 million dollar deal he signed with the Yankees isn’t much in today’s market, while true, doesn’t tell the whole story. Without any further ado, the 8 top catcher contracts revalued at 2010 present dollar:

Mauer, current: 8/184
Piazza, 1999: 7/~$108.5 (Holy beegeez! What a difference from Mauer, even with inflation!)
Kendall (Silly Littlefield; doesn’t include Kendall’s 07 player option. Satch, this deal was signed in 2000, not 2002 as your graph suggests): 6/~$58.25… oddly, with inflation, this is less.
Posada, 2008, using $13.1 2011 dollars = 2010 dollars: 4/~$52.6
Posada, 2002, includes 07 exercised club option: 6/~$48.7
Pudge, 1998: 4/$~56.5
Varitek, 2005: 4/~$44.4
Pudge, 2004: 4/~45.9
Mauer, 2007: 4/~$34.5
Ramon Hernandez, 2004: 4/~$29.6

Interesting to note that all but one of these deals would have cost more today, with the exception of, perhaps the one who earned his contract the least, Jason Kendall. However, this can easily be traced to lower salary figures overall in Kendall’s overall contract, not sheer luck (as opposed to, say, the 08 Posada pact), especially in the earlier years of the deal that had Kendall making in the 5 millions range. Additionally, this was a Dave Littlefield deal, after all.

To summarize my findings, wow. To look at the closest competition, perhaps predictably Piazza, he received one year less, but with inflations, nearly an EIGHTY million dollar contract difference. Amazing, isn’t it? When analyzing this players, and their productions in their contract spans (no, not you, SPANdemonium) , only Mauer (07), Piazza (debatable, because of defense), Posada (02), and Pudge (98) are favorable for the club’s overall production. Oddly, too, 3 of those 4 qualify twice in a later contract, where they have not performed as well, with Mauer’s future undetermined. Granted, Mauer’s a different caliber player, and I wish him the best, but, history is not on his side.

As for how it might affect Fielder? It won’t. Melvin will try to yank as much as he can from Theo (it sounds extreme, but Clay seems like a guy Melvin might want, and should try to ask for in a potential deal), or try to get some kind of Cain/Sosa package from Sabean.

5 years 5 months ago

I hope it impacts Albert Pujols and the Cardinals.

5 years 5 months ago

I could see Prince going for a 5/$100 or 6/$120 type deal. Anything beyond 4-5 years is a huge risk. Teams might be willing to gamble a year, maybe 2 to get him. But there is no way that teams will line up with 7 or 8 year deals.

As for his value – the guy is a complete stud. I think people underestimate him because of his girth. I’m sorry, but there aren’t many in baseball who can swing like Prince.

Couple of stats since Prince is always brought up as an injury risk.

Mauer – 6 seasons – 2994 PA’s
Fielder – 5 seasons – 2804 PA’s

So, while playing one full season less, Fielder is only 200 PA’s behind Mauer. Since becoming a starter Prince has never played less than 157 games in a year. Mauer meanwhile has never played in more than 146 games. He has consistently missed 20-30 games every year due to some type of injury.

As for offensive production …

Mauer – 158 2B / 72 HR’s / 368 BB / OPS+ 136 (adjusts for position, ballpark, league)
Fielder – 139 2B / 160 HR’s / 345 BB / OPS+ 140

Prince matches him in everything when you adjust for the PA discrepancy. Oh, and he has managed to hit more than TWICE as many bombs. OPS+ tells a compelling story – offensively Prince Fielder is superior to Mauer when compared to their peers.

Finally, Mauer was aided by a huge uptick in his HR numbers in 09. If he regresses back to his career norm the offensive comparisons won’t be close. Meanwhile, Fielder just continues to launch HR’s. There is no reason to assume any regression in his offensive game.

If I had to take one player it would be Mauer. But, you can make a good case for Fielder being the overall more impactful player.

5 years 5 months ago

Very good post.

5 years 5 months ago

Impactful on a single player vs single player comparison, but NOT on a team, which is what we should be concerned with. As has been stated many times over, finding a catcher with Mauer’s bat, let alone his plus defense, is much harder to find than a slugging first baseman. That makes Mauer’s impact much more valuable than Prince’s, who is certainly no slouch, but comparing them is like apples to big fat mangos.

5 years 5 months ago

>>…offensively Prince Fielder is superior to Mauer when compared to their peers.<<

Well it depends on what Peer means. At home run derby, sure, but on the baseball field these two are separated by a wide margin when they pick up a glove. Fielder is a pretty good 1b, and Mauer is gold glove catcher. Huge difference. Huge.

And if something happens to either of them, which is a real consideration considering Mauer's position and Fielder's weight, Joe is fit enough to try out 3b, or LF, then maybe work his way down to 1B or finally DH. Prince can move to the AL to DH. Positional flexibility, or the possibility of it, gives Mauer a better chance of earning his money in the event of an injury that prevents him from catching.

EDIT: OPS+ does not adjust for position.

5 years 5 months ago

There are some people who are just freakishly talented, and I think you can count Prince among them. Folks will continually bash him for his weight, and use that as an indicator of future health concerns, which may be a fair point… but as bjsguess stated above, nothing in his career, to this point, has shown that he will be heading down the path to the DL any time soon. Prince has always been big… it’s not as though he’s just added the weight since he arrived in Milwaukee. I remember seeing him as a kid at the Home Run Derby with his dad in the early 90’s… Never in a million years did I think that this chubby/obese kid would make the bigs, and the idea of him becoming the sensation that he is was simply out of the question. And yet, here we are…

Babe Ruth was fat… and probably less conditioned… he turned out okay.

5 years 5 months ago

Like most big contracts I think we won’t know the true value for several years. The questions that remain to be answered: 1) can he maintain his HR surge from 2009, 2) can he stay healthy (his history scares me a little), and 3) can he stay behind the plate where his value is even greater.

Whatever the outcome you have to applaud the Twins for making the commitment rather then follow their normal pattern of cheaping out. Of course everytime I take a drink of my now $7 beer at the stadium I will remember who is really paying for the contract.

5 years 5 months ago

No one said if you take away 09. It was just saying that Mauer’s numbers were inflated because of 09. I believe he was referring to if he were to go back to his career averages, which are lower than 09.

5 years 5 months ago

And yet, despite being a “.320+” hitter, his OBP is only marginally better over the span of their careers… I really don’t understand these vehemently negative responses to the idea that Fielder could be compared to Mauer. The numbers show otherwise… if you’re a BA guy, and batting average holds a lot of weight for you (pardon the pun), you will never be convinced otherwise. If “weight” holds a lot of weight for you, then you can be there to say “I told you so” when Fielder takes his first stint on the DL… by which point, Mauer will likely have been there numerous times himself.

5 years 5 months ago

soooo. you don’t think a line of .365/.444/.587 with 28 home runs would look good at first? I think I’d settle for that. Even if he does have to move over for the last couple of years, he’s very valuable in the lineup no matter what the position.