Yesterday, the Twins put catcher Joe Mauer on revocable waivers. Now that the five time allstar has cleared, there is a possibility for some late season trade magic. At one point, this may have been wishful thinking, but with $133 million owed until 2018, a recent injury history, and a year removed from an awful season, there’s a good chance that the Twins would make Joe Mauer available.
He’s put together a solid season in 2012, a .309/.403/.425 triple slash in the small confines of Target Field. Although he’s hit just 8 homerun, Mauer has strung together some pretty impressive power numbers in the past. In 2009, the year of his MVP, and the last year of baseball in the Metrodome, he hit 28 homeruns. He hasn’t touched the same homerun production since, but there is still double power in his swing. Some of this you can blame on Target Field, but there also seems to be something in the water in Minnesota. The Twins have hit just 108 homeruns as a team, the second lowest number in the American League. Trading him to another team might help his bat while he’s still in his prime years. And although he’s throwing just 11% of base runners out in 2012, this seems to be small sample size. His career caught stealing numbers are far better than the league average, and he’s only allowed 1 passed ball this year.
That’s where the Yankees come in. As a left handed hitter looking to improve offensive numbers, Mauer’s bat fits perfectly into Yankee Stadium. He’s a highly disciplined hitter who draws walks, works the count, and can hit the ball to all parts of the field. For all the talk about the Yankees placing importance on makeup, Joe Mauer is the epitome of class. He’s everything the Yankees want in a player.
Anyone can tell you that the catching situation in the Bronx has been terrible. Russell Martin is struggling to reach the Mendoza line, his catching is nothing better than average, and Chris Stewart has been even worse. Martin is a free agent this offseason, and the team can’t rely on guys like Austin Romine or Francisco Cervelli to take over the position next year. On the other hand, Mauer is the franchise player that the Yankees lost with Jorge Posada‘s retirement, a guy that pitchers can get comfortable with for years to come.
On the flip side, the money on Mauer’s contract is substantial. Yes, there would likely be some sort of salary relief from the Twins, but is it too much money for the 2014 $189 million budget? There’s also his injury history to worry about, and whether he can stay at catcher long term. Has his bat really declined? Will he decline to use his no-trade clause? There are enough questions and enough money to scare anyone off, but for a team that spends money like the Yankees, for a player that fits the mold perfectly, perhaps they should take a gamble.
Combine the Kevin Long effect and Yankee Stadium and I’d encourage the Yankees to go after any lefty bat that’s an improvement. Mauer is still in the prime of his career, and even with the lengthy contract, he’ll only be 35 in his final season. He is undoubtedly an improvement over Russell Martin, but it all boils down to money, and a decision is likely based on whether they can work his contract into the budget.