Joe Mauer's Future
Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports1. Stay with the Twins
Personally, I think this is the most likely scenario. He's from here, his family is here, he's spent his entire career here, his personality and demeanor (although frustrating to fans) fits well with the "Minnesota nice" mantra, and the Twins are starting to become contenders. So what will it take for the Twins to keep him here?
Since his move from catcher (2012), Mauer has played 813 games as a first basemen, which is good for 13th most among 50 qualified players. In that same time he has provided a 14.7 WAR which is good for 10th best:
- The "good": He's staying healthier, he's getting on base (6/50 in BA and 5/50 in OBP), and he's become one of the best defensive 1B in the game (#1 in UZR in 2017 among 21 qualified players).
- The "bad": He'll be 36 in April of 2019 (only six qualified players were 36+ years old in '17), he provides no power as a 1B/DH (42/50 in SLG from 2012-17) and despite being healthier he's still good to miss at least 20 games/year not including the days provides no defensive value as a DH.
I came up with the $8-$10 million range from looking at the following data.
Yonder Alonso signed with the Indians for $8 million per year. Compared to Mauer he provides a little more power, less OBP, and a lot less defense. He's younger, coming off a career year, and also fits the "launch angle" ideal that so many hitters are trending towards. Ultimately, my opinion is that the pros and cons of both players provide a similar value to a team although the type of value they provide are different. I think that provides a sort of baseline going into next offseason.
I also looked at players who signed in the 2016/17 offseason who were 36+ years old and although the median salary was $7.75 million a few of those guys are getting paid $13 & $16 million. If I were to include 35+ year olds, which is technically how old Mauer will be at the start of the 2019 season, the median is at $8 million and includes Yadier Molina (a career-long Cardinal) getting paid $20 million. Although the median is lower, I think the higher deals give Mauer/Shapiro some room to negotiate an above the median salary. Especially if Mauer performs similarly to how he did in 2017 and/or is able to hit like he currently is for a majority of 2018.
2. Sign Elsewhere
I don't see this happening, but obviously this is a possibility. Assuming Mauer only has a few more years in the big leagues, he could be looking for a team to win now. Now being 2019 or 2020. Depending on what the Twins front office does in free agency over the next couple of years the Twins may or may not be legit World Series contenders. I hate to say it, but with Greg Bird not being able to stay healthy the Yankees may have an opening at first base that would be a good fit for Mauer. Teams like Houston, Boston, the Cubs, Dodgers, Indians and Nationals are also obvious contenders, but currently have a player who is under contract at first base.
From what I have read/heard, there have not been any rumblings that Mauer is ready to hang them up. Doesn't mean it's not something to consider. Honestly, I almost think Joe would be more apt to retire than he would be to sign somewhere else. Moving somewhere else obviously would mean either moving his family or moving away from his family, which I don't think he would want to do.
- nclahammer likes this