Why Joe Mauer Isn't Untouchable

Andrew KneelandSenior Writer IJuly 13, 2009

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 11:  Joe Mauer #7 of the Minnesota Twins looks on against the Oakland Athletics during a Major League Baseball game on June 11, 2009 at the Oakland Coliseum in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

One of the worst interviews the state of Minnesota has ever seen is also one of their most valuable assets.

Priceless to his organization, Joe Mauer has a tough decision looming just around the corner.

Should he stay in Minnesota with a contract that will doubtless be smaller than anything offered by the Yankees or Red Sox, or should he move on to greener pastures?

It's the classic "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush" quote come to life. Mauer has millions of dollars coming to him in Minnesota, more than most people on this planet could ever hope to see. His family and friends live in Minnesota, and many Twins fans would forsake baseball in its entirety if Mauer ditched the state of his birth for more money.

Truth be told, though, almost anyone would have an extremely difficult time turning down the kind of money the Yankees or Red Sox would offer Mauer. Some estimate that his next contract will be the richest of all time.

Mauer's agent, Ron Shapiro, could be the best not named Scott Boras in all of sports.

Shapiro has more Hall of Fame clients than any other agent and has helped players like Kirby Puckett and Cal Ripken, Jr. stay in their hometowns. Why can't he convince Mauer to do the same?

I would guess that there are exactly zero Twins fans who would enjoy seeing Mauer leave the state of Minnesota. Every fan I know, including myself, would have a tough time forgiving the Twins' front office if Mauer became a free agent when his contract expired. The way I see it, the Twins have two options: a) Re-sign Mauer to a long contract, or b) Anything else.

The worst-case scenario would be for the Twins to not offer Mauer a new contract and allow him to walk as a free agent. The two compensatory draft picks we would receive would do nothing to console our broken hearts.

If the Twins simply cannot afford to keep Mauer, even at a discount, the next-best option would be to trade the All-Star catcher. He is priceless to his organization, and there is no equal value, but if Mauer must leave Minnesota, it would be best for the Twins to receive proven major-league talent in return.

The title of this piece is probably a little misleading. If the Twins can afford Mauer and his hometown discount, there should be no second thoughts about locking him up for the next decade. However, after somehow managing to gain a new stadium, the Twins should able to find enough money for Mauer.

If the money isn't there, though, the "Untouchable" label that many give to Mauer should be removed in favor of "On the Block."