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Original Issue

THE NUMBERS Mauer Play

Joe Mauer signed an eight-year, $184 million contract that will keep him in Minnesota through his peak years. A strong defensive catcher who is one of the five best hitters in the league deserves to be one of the game's highest-paid players; the question is whether Mauer, 26, will be worth the money should he have to move from behind the plate to save his body. Mark Teixeira makes the same $23 million a year under his Yankees contract, and Mauer has outhit him in two of the past four seasons. If Mauer were to move to first base, outhit Teixeira and be average defensively, he'd be comparable in value to the Yankee first baseman. For every year that Mauer catches, he's a bargain. This contract is exactly what teams should do when given a taxpayer-funded ballpark: invest their new revenues in their superstars.

PHOTO

CHUCK SOLOMON (MAUER)