5 Reasons the Minnesota Twins Are Stuck with Joe Mauer
The answer is simple: No.
Due to Mauer's career events, age, and cultural impact, he will not be going any where in the near future.
This article discusses the reasons why the Minnesota Twins are stuck with Mauer.
Mauer's current contract, signed before the 2010 season, is for eight years and $184 million. The contract guarantees that any and all trades must be approved by Mauer.
First and foremost, Mauer's guaranteed $184 million over eight years is enough to keep most teams away. This hefty contract is a lot of money for a 29-year-old catcher who hits singles.
Secondly, the No-Trade-Clause could become an issue for the Twins if they end up wanting to trade him. Essentially, Mauer would have to say yes before they could ship him off. On the other hand, after acquiring him, the other team would most likely have a No-Trade-Clause if they ever wanted to trade Mauer away.
Mauer's History of Injuries
Yes. The 6'5" catcher has won three batting titles and three Gold Gloves as a catcher, but Mauer does have a history of injuries.
During his brief rookie season, Mauer suffered a torn meniscus the third game of the season, missing the first two months of baseball. A month after returning from the DL, Mauer was placed back on the DL with knee issues. He played 35 games that year.
If that was not an indication of things to come, I don't know what was.
More recently, Mauer suffered from a mysterious injury called "bilateral leg weakness" and was placed on the DL on April 12, 2011, nine games into the season. Mauer returned on June 17, and played until he contracted pneumonia in mid-September.
In a healthy year, Mauer plays about 135 games. On average—with injuries and all—he plays 115 games in a season. It is tough to pay a player $23 million a year when they play less than 3/4 of the games.
As FSN's Robby Incmikoski heard from Twins trainer Rick McWane:
"After the first week of the season, he (Mauer) started to just get run down and his legs were just not strong enough to catch every day."
After eight games of spring training and nine of regular season ball, Mauer was already "run down" from catching. What team would want that?
Without a doubt, Mauer has impressive career numbers for a catcher, .323/.404/.468. A high BA and OBP are great and all, but for someone of his speed and size, Mauer's run production is quite low. Consider other big men in MLB history:
Mauer's high average comes largely through hitting singles. Generally, high BA hitters either have some running speed or drive in runs. Mauer has does neither.
A slower, 6'5" singles hitter is not going to be in high demand at $23 million a year.
Mauer will be turning 30 years old next season and entering the third year of his eight-year contract.
A player's prime is different for everyone in baseball. Raul Ibanez made his first All-Star game appearance at age 37, while countless others fizzled out in their twenties.
HardballTimes.com's Mitchel Lichtman and Florida State University's John Nathaniel Lee both theorize that baseball players who have long careers (5,000 or more plate appearances), peak at age 29. Based on age and offensive production of retired MLB players, offensive production subtly slows down in their early 30s and ultimately takes a dip in the mid-30s to 40s.
Assuming Mauer will have 5,000 appearances in his career, history tells us that he is most likely at his peak right now, and in effect has a few years left in his prime.
Again, who would be willing to pick up his tab?
Let's think about this: Mauer is not only the face of the Twins; he is the face of Minnesota sports.
The Twins catcher's accolades, modesty and humble personality attribute to this title.
From milk TV ads to health club commercials, Mauer's down-to-earth public persona fits Minnesota. Can you imagine other MLB markets playing this ad?
Without Mauer, Minnesota would not have their favorite son or their biggest spokesperson.
He is staying in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.