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.