The Minnesota Twins are in a position where they need to make moves to improve the active roster. In such situations, a team may decide to trade their biggest piece in order to make a quick upgrade.
On the surface, the Twins may not have that piece. However, that could change if they decide to make Joe Mauer available.
The 29-year old catcher has had difficulties staying on the field over the past two seasons and may be considered damaged goods by some teams. Still, he has a bat that teams covet at the catcher position and could provide an immediate upgrade for any lineup.
With a $23 million salary due through 2018, the Twins will need to pay a team a fair amount in order for a trade to work.
Minnesota will also need to get either an impact player or high quality prospects to restock their meager farm system.
With that, here are five trades the Twins could explore if they wish to put Joe Mauer on the trading block.
The New York Yankees may not want to give up an impact player to acquire Joe Mauer, but they may be willing to part with a key prospect or two that could energize a Twins' youth movement.
If the Twins want to get rid of Mauer, they could ask for catching prospect Gary Sanchez in return.
Sanchez, who is ranked as the third best prospect in the Yankees' farm system according to Baseball America, hit .290 with 18 home runs and 85 RBI for Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa in 2012.
At 20 years old, Sanchez could man the backstop for a long time and give the team a suitable replacement for their franchise player.
The Twins could also ask for a pitching prospect or two in return. The best buy-low candidate could be pitcher Manny Banuelos.
While Banuelos, who is ranked eighth in the Yankees' system by Baseball America, will miss the 2013 season while recovering from Tommy John surgery, the Twins could take a risk and hope that he realizes his potential upon his arrival to their system.
The additions could give Minnesota an extremely young nucleus similar to the one that Terry Ryan put on the field in 2000 before winning six division championships over the next decade.
The Blue Jays may also have the young pitching to get a deal done for the three-time batting champion with their abundance of pitching.
Aaron Sanchez and Marcus Stroman (who is projected as a reliever) both could help the Twins' pitching staff return to the respectability they had before the departure of Johan Santana.
If the Twins are willing to trade Mauer, why wouldn't they go for an under-appreciated pitcher that could lead the staff for several seasons?
In this case, that pitcher would be Cliff Lee.
Lee is coming off a 6-9 season for the Phillies, but as is the case so many times, the win-loss record doesn't tell the whole story.
Lee's numbers were actually pretty good as he posted a 3.16 earned run average with a 1.11 WHIP. Lee also was able to maintain a K/9 ratio of 8.8 while walking only 28 batters.
While the better trade for the Phillies would be to acquire Upton, they could use Mauer at several positions.
All-Star catcher Carlos Ruiz has been suspended for the first 25 games of 2013 for taking Adderall. While Mauer would only be a temporary stop gap, the Phillies could also use Mauer at first base with Ryan Howard struggling to return to form after tearing his Achilles' heel in the final at-bat of the 2011 season.
Philadelphia could get really creative by using Mauer in the outfield, but with one career start under his belt, it would be highly unlikely.
Such a trade would benefit the Twins, but wouldn't make sense for the Phillies. That's why this trade is also only doable in the world of fantasy baseball.
The Boston Red Sox have been trying to take out the trash since choking away an entire season in September 2011.
While some decisions have been good ones, such as getting rid of Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett, others have been incredibly short-sighted such as sending away Adrian Gonzalez with them.
That's why Red Sox general manager Ben Cherrington could overreact and send Jon Lester to Minnesota.
This would be a trade that would work well for both teams as Mauer's opposite-field approach would terrorize the Green Monster at Fenway Park.
The Twins would also get a pitcher that averages about 15 wins a season with an earned run average in the mid-threes.
Despite Lester having a career-worst season in 2012, the Twins could take advantage of an aggressive general manager and add the ace they covet in the process.
After the recent fire sale executed by the Miami Marlins, Giancarlo Stanton is not a happy camper.
Despite opening a stunning new stadium in downtown Miami last April, the Marlins have proceeded to get rid of the majority of their payroll.
The biggest shocker came on November 20, when the Marlins traded Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle, Josh Johnson and John Buck to the Toronto Blue Jays for Yunel Escobar (who has since been traded to the Tampa Bay Rays), and a handful of mediocre prospects.
The initial reaction for Stanton was not one that penny-pinching owner Jeffery Loria would appreciate.
Alright, I'm pissed off!!! Plain & Simple
— Giancarlo Stanton (@Giancarlo818) November 13, 2012
With a disgruntled superstar, the Twins may want to reach out to Stanton to provide a deadly middle of the order that could develop in 2014.
With super prospects Miguel Sano (28 home runs at Low-A Beloit) and Oswaldo Arcia (17 HR between High-A Fort Meyers and Double-A New Britain) rising through the Twins' system, Stanton could give the team power that hasn't been seen since they played in the Metrodome.
Alas, this trade is a pipe dream.
There is no way the Marlins would accept Mauer's gigantic salary. Even if the Twins offered to pay $22 million of the $23 million owed, it would make more sense for the team to keep Mauer on the roster rather than having him play somewhere else.