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Joe Mauer is on waivers and someone should claim him

Aug 29, 2012, 12:31 PM EDT

Joe Mauer high five AP

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports is reporting that Mauer cleared waivers this afternoon.

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Joe Mauer, like so many other stars this month, is on the waiver wire, having been placed on revocable waivers by the Twins. Odds are that he’ll go unclaimed, and even if he doesn’t, it’s highly, highly unlikely that he’ll be traded. For one thing, he has a no-trade clause. For another, it doesn’t sound like the Twins have any real desire to move him.

If, however, a team could get Mauer for free, I’d be in favor of the move. Mauer’s contract is still a risky proposition going forward, but the concerns about it have always been overblown. One thing that makes it more attractive: it’s not backloaded. While most stars get increased salaries as the contracts go along, Mauer is earning exactly $23 million in each of the eight years of his contract, which runs through 2018.

Of course, Mauer has been quiet in the power department since his MVP campaign in 2009. Target Field has a lot to do with that, though. This year, he has five homers and 15 doubles in 58 games on the road, compared to three homers and 11 doubles in 62 games at home. Put him in an environment in which hitting long flyballs would do him more good, and I imagine that Mauer would hit more long flyballs. One of the game’s most talented hitters, he’s definitely capable of suiting his approach to his ballpark.

There is the injury risk, but Mauer appears well on his way to playing in 135 games for the fourth time in five years. Used primarily as a catcher, his all-around game makes him worth his salary even if he’s not a 20-homer guy. If his knees do force him off the position during the back half of his deal, then $23 million per year might be excessive. I still think he’d be at least a $15 million-$20 million player as a first baseman or third baseman, though.

We’ve already heard from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman that the Red Sox won’t claim Mauer, so that probably means that nobody will. He’s almost certainly still be a Twin come Opening Day. The Red Sox, though, could do a lot worse. Mauer isn’t Adrian Gonzalez, but he’d be a stellar alternative as a No. 3 hitter.

  1. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:40 PM

    ” it doesn’t sound like the Twins have any real desire to move him.”

    Probably not a strong desire, but a team wouldn’t put a guy on waivers if they were not at least intrigued by the possibilities…

    • Jeremiah Graves - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      I feel like every play gets put on waivers in August, just a team going through the motions more than anything else.

      It seems like the media always wants to turn the waivers process into some deep insightful take on the club’s opinions of a certain player, but it just makes good sense to try and pass everyone through waivers. It’s standard procedure to give your front office the maximum amount of flexibility for potential trades.

      Nothing to see here. Move along.

      • wsnydes - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:35 PM

        Exactly. As a Twins fan, I had 4 people text me this morning before 7:30 am all in a tizzy that Mauer was put on waivers. I had to talk each of them off the ledge. These things happen all of the time without anything transpiring. I definitely agree that the hype is all media driven. This isn’t news or a story until a trade actually occurs.

    • Detroit Michael - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:19 PM

      I thought teams often put a large number of players that they don’t intend to trade on waivers during August to provide a smokescreen for the few players who they truly hope to shop around. Hence, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the Twins were intrigued by the possibility of trading away Mauer.

      • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:11 PM

        I’m not saying that they want to trade him. I will say that not every player goes on waivers, and I doubt any GM is fooled by volume. If a guy goes on waivers, the team is at least saying, “Hey, overwhelm me and we can make a deal.”

  2. geoknows - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Aren’t the Dodgers a possibility to claim anybody and everybody with a huge contract? Are they that thrilled with AJ Ellis and Matt Treanor?

    • WhyDoIActuallyCare - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:11 PM

      I’m pretty thrilled with AJ. Treanor, not so much. There’s not much room to play Mauer unless you move AJ to backup full time, because its not like they’re going to sit A-Gon very often.

      • hackerjay - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:20 PM

        There’s been talk in the past about trying Mauer out at third. If the Dodgers thought he could be passable there, and they don’t mind taking on another $100 million player, that would make for one heck of an infield.

  3. SmackSaw - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:43 PM

    Mr Ryan? There is a Mr. Coletti on line one.

  4. braddavery - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I know people are sick of the Yankees eating up a ton of talent, but this is one that actually seems like it could make sense.

    • natstowngreg - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:04 PM

      Agreed, if the Yankees are willing to pay the new, stiffer luxury tax, or are willing to shed payroll elsewhere.

    • kevinbnyc - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:46 PM

      Pick up Mauer to play 1st primarily, keep Swisher to fill in at 1st, and move Tex?

  5. randygnyc - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:54 PM

    I agree. The Yankees should take a peak.

    • madhatternalice - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:43 PM

      Sure. They can take K2.

      Please leave.

    • SmackSaw - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:06 PM

      They should take Pike’s Peak.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      Is that like pitching a tent?

  6. nikesparq - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    A little shocked to see this. But the Twins didn’t trade Span when they had the chance to, I doubt they will this time around. While former GM Bill Smith would get little in return, current GM Terry Ryan wants too much. Can’t blame him though

  7. willclarkgameface - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:56 PM

    Mauer needs to get out of that ballpark in Minnesota. It has been killing his power stroke.

    Yes, I think they would consider moving him if the team in question will pick up the remainder of his deal. If not, no dice. They are going to have that All Star game coming in 2014 and they will want to promote the hell out of it next year. Joe is the face of the franchise.

    I guess this is all nonsense and it’s just about the money. What else is new?

  8. shaggylocks - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:58 PM

    “This year, he has five homers and 15 doubles in 58 games on the road, compared to three homers and 11 doubles in 62 games on the road.”

    So what is that, eight homers and 26 doubles on the road?

    • Matthew Pouliot - Aug 29, 2012 at 12:59 PM

      Whoops. Fixed.

  9. natstowngreg - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    The Red Sox using some of their new-found spare cash to take on Joe Mauer’s contract? IMHO, this is an early indication of what may well be the biggest storyline in the 2012-2013 Hot Stove League. Something about which we at this here blog right here will be discussing all fall and winter.

    In what direction will the Red Sox go? Are they going to pursue expensive players to replace the expensive players they traded, while trying to change the team’s chemistry and image? Are they going to save cash and focus more on young talent? Or, some combination of the two approaches?

    It should be quite interesting, even for those of us not part of The Nation.

  10. sabatimus - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Mauer’s been playing more 1B and DH over the last couple years–he could be a good fit on the Red Sox as long as the Sox don’t have to pick up a ton of salary…which isn’t going to happen.

    • bigleagues - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM

      He hasn’t hit like a $23 million per year player in 16 career games at Fenway. Unless they have some very convincing advanced metrics I don’t see why they would make such a leap so soon.

      I love him as a player though – and he is someone – given some consistent reps, I believe would learn to how to use The Wall in devastating fashion.

  11. sabatimus - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:00 PM

    Mauer’s been playing more 1B and DH over the last couple years–he could be a good fit on the Red Sox as long as the Sox don’t have to pick up a ton of salary…which isn’t going to happen.

  12. hansob - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    I’m convinced Terry Ryan just has a bet with someone on whether or not Mauer will get through waivers.

    • kopy - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:32 PM

      The Twins would never move him without a massive return, contract be damned. Whether or not that is fair is irrelevant.

  13. alexjm3449 - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:07 PM

    Everyone stop saying he has power, he doesnt 09 was a fluke, we knew coming in to it all hes not a power hitter, hes gonna hit for ave and give ya 70-80rbis, and hit into 100 double plays, he gets all his hits in the first inning and 8th or 9th with noone one letting him go 2-4 long minny fan, give a me a cather that hits .280 15-20hr 60-80rbi with a smaller pay check and some SP!!

    • kopy - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:38 PM

      Mauer is hitting .352/.468/.480 with runners in scoring position this year.

  14. bigleagues - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    Target Field has been a major drain on his production as compared to the Metrodome.

    He has been outrageous at Angels Stadium (27 G, .337 BA, .912 OPS), US Cellular (55 G, .362 BA, 1.009 OPS), Kauffman (53G, .355 BA, .957 OPS) and interestingly enough, Tropicana Field (20G, .423. BA, 1.182 OPS), Miller Park (21G, .360 BA, .919 OPS) and the new Yankee Stadium (14 G, .327 BA, .985 OPS).

    But he hasn’t hit well enough, at least on the surface, as someone would hope a guy getting $23 per year would hit, at Fenway Park (16 G, .283 BA, .886 OPS) for the Red Sox to make that leap so soon after winning the Dodgers Amnesty Lottery.

    • Alex K - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:48 PM

      I would hope no team would use a 16 game sample as the basis to either aquire or not aquire a player. That said, I also don’t think the Red Sox are itching to get a contract like that no matter who the player happens to be.

      • bigleagues - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:30 PM

        I didn’t say that the Sox would make a decision solely on his Fenway performance. But they surely have used that as indicator in the past.

        The 16 Game sample isn’t a random selection of games from his 9 year career – it’s 16 Games in particular ballpark over the course of 9 seasons. Is it as conclusive as, say, 55 Games at Kauffman or 55 Games at US Cellular? Probably not.

        But it is enough to get a sense of what he is or isn’t capable of and thus a legit factor to use in making a decision on whether to pursue a guy or not.

        Mike Napoli has played 19 Games at Fenway and put up a .306 BA and a 1.107 OPS with a tOPS+ of .153 over the course of 7 season and playing for 2 different teams. Are you going to argue that that is simply flukey?

      • Alex K - Aug 29, 2012 at 8:16 PM

        I’m going to argue that it is only 19 games for Napoli in Fenway. I don’t think that if he came to Fenway as a Red Sox that he would put up that line over the full season. I would think he would probably put up numbers closer to his career averages.

        And, yeah, the 16 games for Mauer is a random sample of games from his 9 seasons. They all just happen to be at the same place. I think if Mauer was a Red Sox he would probably hit a lot like Joe Mauer. Maybe a few more doubles and HR’s because of the better hitting conditions than Target Field.

      • bigleagues - Aug 29, 2012 at 9:25 PM

        Alex, I agree that Napoli wouldn’t maintain that level of production over 81 Games. However, some players hit better at some ballparks – whether its a smaller sample or a larger sample. To argue that isn’t a factor in how a team evaluates whether or not to acquire a player is just blatantly silly.

        And I’m not arguing that Joe Mauer hit .283 at Fenway Park in the 16 Games he’s played there means that Joe Mauer will be a .283 player there. I am arguing that – and maybe I wasn’t specific enough – it would be a tough sell to the fanbase to have just made the miracle trade of all time just to go out and pick up a guy who – while great – hasn’t really shown off his full ability when he’s played at Fenway.

        Having said that, there are certainly many examples of players who for one reason or another hit well in certain parks, eventually go play for that team in that park and then put up better numbers than they had playing elsewhere.

        Sabermetrics is a method that is used to valuate a player’s potential performance. It is not the only method, nor is it the only factor that is used.

      • Alex K - Aug 30, 2012 at 12:54 AM

        Basically I’m saying that we know the kind of player Joe Mauer is. He is a high average/OBP guy who’s not going to hit a lot of HR’s. I would hope that if a team -no matter what team it is- was going to trade for him they wouldn’t give much if any weight to how he has hit in <100 PA's in their home park be it good or bad. Mauer has over 4,400 PA's in his career, I would trust that no matter where they were over the much smaller amount at Fenway. I'm not saying you don't take how a home ballpark may affect a batter into consideration, that would be silly. But saying that I wouldn't let 16 pretty randomly dispersed games color my evaluation of how a player will hit in my ballpark is 100% reasonable.

        Napoli is playing in a better hitters park than Fenway, right now. I seriously doubt that he would hit much if any better if he was a Red Sox.

        Also, are we even talking about the same thing? I wasn't taking how the team would "sell it to the fans" into account when I was talking about Mauer. I'm not really concerned with that part of it. I was only speaking as to how I would want my favorite team's front office to look at a player.

        And I'm very aware that there are other methods than sabermetrics to valuate a player's potential performance. You were just using a pretty bad one, in my opinion.

  15. jmp527 - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    The Pirates could use his services even though the price tag is way higher than they have ever paid. The catching situation in Pittsburgh is awful.

  16. vallewho - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    R. Martin is “hitting” .195

    F’ the lux tax ?

  17. randomdigits - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:30 PM

    Why would you want him hitting third? Ideally your 5th best hitter should be hitting third.

    Well I guess you would be in really good shape if Mauer was your 5th best hitter….

  18. raysfan1 - Aug 29, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    I’d love the Rays to claim him if for no other reason than to block the Yankees. Rays can’t afford him so I realize him playing his home games at the trop is just a pipe dream.

  19. exibitsman - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    SANDY will trade for him the Mets can
    use a great bat at the catcher position.!!!!!!!

  20. mrfloydpink - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:14 PM

    “One thing that makes [Mauer's contract] more attractive: it’s not backloaded.”

    You REALLY need to take a course in basic economics, because you make this error–and similar errors–every time you write about contracts (see, for example, your posts on Albert Pujols).

    Because backloaded money is deflated money, teams ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS prefer backloaded contracts. I get it that you think that a contract like Mauer’s creates flexibility, or doesn’t tie up excessive resources in any particular year, but you are are simply wrong. Why would teams negotiate backloaded contracts if such instruments were not beneficial to them?

    Imagine that Mauer’s contract called for him to be paid $5 million per year for nine years and then the remaining $150 million in year 10. If the team was concerned about money being “tight” in year 10, they could always put $18 million a year in an interest-bearing account, and then pay out the whole amount once year 10 arrives. If they give the money to Mauer each year, on the other hand, they lose the interest, and they lose flexibility.

    The only way your statement would be true, really, is if Mauer’s contract was ultra-cheap in the first few years, and he was about to get a big raise. Then, a team would be assuming most of the cost of the contract while getting not much of the production.

    • sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:20 PM

      But, when trading for a player on a back-loaded contract, the acquiring team tends to get the more expensive years, which the team that initially handed out the contract already chewed through the cheaper years in the beginning.

      In that sense, this is a better deal for the acquiring team than some contract with the same annual avg value, but back-loaded.

  21. seanthegreatest - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Angels?

  22. latrops - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    I don’t know why the Red Sox would….they have 20something homers from Saltalamacchia at a fraction of the cost. Mauer is better, of course, but Boston doesn’t need Mauer right now. The Yankees are the big market team with a hole at catcher (Martin is hitting under .200 on the season). With Tiexiera nursing an injury, Mauer could play 1st, catcher, and DH. Of course, it won’t happen.

  23. 49ersgiants4life - Aug 29, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Giants should claim him and he can play first cause we all know he would be a huge improvement over belt and with the dodgers making the moves giants need a splash

  24. blockedshotnyr - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    The Giants I think are an ideal fit for a couple of reasons – (1) they could use another bat and (2) long term, it would allow for them to utilize a 50/50 split between Mauer and Posey at first and catcher, which would enable them to keep their catcher production at elite levels throughout the year while keeping each player relatively healthy and rested throughout the season.

  25. spudatx - Aug 29, 2012 at 3:16 PM

    If we were to entertain the idea that Mauer could be moved, I think the question to ask is not ‘who’ would want Mauer, but ‘what’ has changed for the Twins if they indeed had any real interest to deal him. The Twins paid every cent they could afford to a hometown favorite and have seen the stands continue to fill with fans eager to buy merch. He’s struggled with some injuries since signing the deal, but appears healthy again and is playing well.

    With a pretty decent crop of young pitchers emerging and the Morneau contract ending next year, the team isn’t committed to much money beyond Mauer and in the midst of a lot of roster turnover.

    You can’t help but wonder if leaving Mauer on the table through waivers is just a means to invite conversation with other GMs in the off-chance that it spurs discussion of deals involving other players the team might like to deal.

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