Joe Mauer's contract. It has been arguably the biggest storyline for Major League Baseball this off-season. If you haven't heard about it, then you better check your pulse.
All are excellent reasons on why the Twins should bend over backward to re-sign him, but they need to be realistic. Mauer is definitely worth a larger than average contract but the Twins need to be careful when working a deal out with the 26-year-old catcher. There have been rumor's swirling from all over the media landscape on how much and how long the contract is reportedly going to be.
The largest one that I have seen as of yet is for $200 million over 10 years. This would easily make him the highest paid catcher of all-time if it were to go through. Frankly, this is way too much to pay for a catcher, even Joe Mauer.
Joe Mauer has stated that he wants to be part of a winning team and I don't blame him. The Twins have done a great job this off-season in bringing in talent around him to show they are serious about contending. I'm just afraid that signing Mauer to a monstrous contract could cripple the Twins from signing or re-signing future talent.
The Twins will obviously have many players within a ten year span that could become free agents if the'yre not resigned. If Mauer wants to play for the Twins and for a winning organization at the same time, then he shouldn't be greedy. He must sign for a price that Minnesota can afford.
That being said, I don't think the Twins even need to re-sign Joe Mauer. Yes, I said it. Before you all tear my head off, please hear me out.
First off, he's a catcher. I don't think that it would be a logical choice for the Twins to sign any catcher to a huge contract for a long period of time. Playing this position in the MLB is a very grueling task and Mauer has proved this point in the past by being injury prone.
Now ask yourself, would it be a smart choice for a baseball team with the Twins budget to invest $20 million per season for ten seasons on an injury prone catcher? Probably not.
He does, however, provide a lot of offensive production for the Twins but this is sure to decline playing in Target Field on a daily basis. It may not be a huge decline but it is still a decline at the end of the day.
According to Baseball Reference, Joe Mauer's production on grass vs turf and outdoor vs indoor reflect poorly for Mauer's potential in Target Field. Looking at his career batting average: .322 on grass vs .331 on turf and .322 in open stadiums vs .330 in domed stadiums. This will most likely mean that his overall batting average will decline as well. Also goes for his career OBP and OPS.
Now the question is: would it be a smart choice for the Twins to invest $200 million for an injury prone catcher who's production is sure to decline in the future? Probably not, but who could ever replace Joe Mauer? Easy. Wilson Ramos.
Wilson Ramos is rated the second best prospect in the Minnesota Twins farm system according to Baseball America. Ramos played extremely well last season for the Twins A and AA squads and continued it during the Venezuelan Winter League. Not only is he a productive offensive catcher, he is also an excellent fielder as well throwing out over 40% of players trying to steal during his minor league career.
If the Twins do have to eventually part ways with Joe Mauer, it will be devastating but not the end of the world. They would still be a very good team without Joe Mauer. They could even think about trading Mauer during the season for top-tier pitching prospects? Just an option.
I definitely do hope that we can see #7 in a Twins jersey for the remainder of his career but we have to respect the business side of baseball too. I'm a Minnesota Twins fan over a Joe Mauer fan any day.