FORT MYERS (AP) - Sitting a few feet from the people who inspired him to become one of the game's best players, Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer became one of the game's highest-paid ones as well.
Mauer, 26, signed an $184 million, eight-year contract extension Monday at a news conference with his parents and two brothers looking on in a meeting room at the Lee County Sports Complex.
He even used the same pen he signed his rookie contract with in 2001, when the Twins made him the No. 1 pick in the draft out of Cretin-Derham Hall High School in his native St. Paul, Minn.
The new deal should make Mauer a fixture with his hometown team through 2018.
Flanked by his agents, Ron Shapiro and Michael Maas to his right and Twins general manager Bill Smith and team president Dave St. Peter to his left, Mauer said one word immediately after signing - "Wow."
"There are a lot of people in this room who I care a lot about," Mauer said. "I'm kind of getting emotional. There are a lot of people who helped me get to this point."
Mauer's parents, Jake Mauer II and Teresa Mauer, were sitting in the front row. So were Joe's older brothers, Bill and Jake Mauer III, who both played in the minor leagues for the Twins.
Jake Mauer III enters his first season as manager of the Class A Fort Myers Miracle.
"They've been here for me my whole life," Joe Mauer said. "I wouldn't be here without them."
He said although he remained serious in getting a favorable deal, he never wanted to leave for another team in another city.
Mauer hit .365 with a career-best 28 home runs and 96 RBI last season after beginning the year on the disabled list while recovering from a back injury. He went on to win his second Gold Glove Award, his third AL batting title and his first Most Valuable Player Award.