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Joe Mauer's Future

It's no secret that Joe Mauer is in the final year of his eight year, $184 million contract extension signed in 2010. It's also not a secret that Mauer isn't the player he was in 2009 or in the years leading up to that MVP season. What does seem to be a secret, is what thoughts "Falvine" has on Mauer's future past the 2018 season. There are really only three options.
Image courtesy of Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
1. 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 think it's fair to assume that 2017 is the ceiling of what we can expect from Mauer in 2018 and beyond, although he has been lights out so far this season. Looking at salaries for players who are currently 36+ years old, 2017 and 2018 contract agreements, and salaries of other first basemen around the league, I would be looking for the Twins to give Mauer a two- or three-year deal at $8-$10 million/year not including incentives or player/team options. Again, I believe him signing with the Twins is the most likely scenario.

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.

3. Retire
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.

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84 Comments

 
If we are going to compare Mauer to other catchers then it necessitates a comparison to those other catchers based on what they did at the catcher's position


That would be good for Mauer, so you’re really reaching for something to complain about here.

Because, aside from longevity, which everyone knows is only lacking because of a traumatic brain injury, Joe’s catcher résumé is right up there with the greats. And you know that the only reason Mauer isn’t going to end up right up there with Berra or Piazza in the hit count is that they didn’t have a major brain injury take away some of their peak years.

I think Mauer would very much prefer to be compared to catchers than first basemen. And why not? He was an every day catcher for a decade.
    • Kelly Vance, Platoon, bighat and 1 other like this
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ashburyjohn
Apr 13 2018 06:01 PM

And you know that the only reason Mauer isn’t going to end up right up there with Berra or Piazza in the hit count is that they didn’t have a major brain injury take away some of their peak years.

I'm unconvinced. It's said that x-rays of Berra's head revealed nothing. :)

    • ThejacKmp, 70charger, adorduan and 1 other like this

 

That would be good for Mauer, so you’re really reaching for something to complain about here.
 

 

I compared the numbers from what these players did at the catcher position. Those are just facts and those numbers will be reviewed in the process.Not reaching or complaining, nor am I interested in any back and forth.

 

I will simply say this and move forward,....

Why are we pushing Joe out there for three more years given he suffered post-traumatic effects from a brain injury for three seasons?Someone that has suffered a traumatic brain injury needn't be playing professional sports into their late 30s.The guy has a family to think of and he has all the money he could ever need.

 

If we are talking about his future does this not involve his future beyond baseball?Or do we need to push him out there for a few more seasons just so he can hit numbers?  

 

I'm unconvinced. It's said that x-rays of Berra's head revealed nothing. :)

 

Even Napoleon had his Watergate

    • ashburyjohn likes this

Let's not forget he also has 3 batting titles as a catcher.Those are 2 more than any other catcher and they count.He still has a very high OBP, so what he is lacking is the HR's.

FYI Pizza was not a good catcher.

    • 70charger and Borealis like this
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Nine of twelve
Apr 13 2018 06:15 PM

Let's take it a bit further and look at the huge Mauer contract:
 
2017: Mauer has 2.3 WAR. WAR is worth $10.5 mill. Mauer is worth $24.15 mill
2016: Mauer has 0.9 WAR. WAR is worth $10.2 mill. Mauer is worth $9.18 mill
2015: Mauer has 0.2 WAR. WAR is worth $9.6 mill. Mauer is worth $1.92 mill
2014: Mauer has 1.6 WAR. WAR is worth $7.7 mill. Mauer is worth $12.32 mill
2013: Mauer has 5.2 WAR. WAR is worth $7.2 mill. Mauer is worth $37.44 mill
2012: Mauer has 4.5 WAR. WAR is worth $6.2 mill. Mauer is worth $27.9 mill
2011: Mauer has 1.2 WAR. WAR is worth $7.4 mill. Mauer is worth $8.88 mill.
 
Thus far Mauer has been worth $121.79 million in all but the final year of a $184 million contract. 
 
He needs a pretty big throwback season to make the whole contract worth it. If WAR is worth $10.5 million this year he'd need a 6.0 WAR season. So far he has 0.6 WAR and is on pace for 8.8 WAR. Let's rewrite this narrative and make that contract worth it!

None of this has any bearing on his perceived future value. That's what what will drive contract negotiations wherever he lands.
Mauer has never been a power hitter, with the exception of his one season, as either a catcher or 1B. And he's not going to become one now. To be fair, he's been a pretty decent doubles hitter for most of his career. 1B is regarded as being a power position. But it doesn't have to be. If you have power in the OF, power at 3B, power at DH, (potentially now with Morrison), and power at 2B, (for NOW anyway), and even some power from other's in your lineup and bench, who says Mauer HAS to be replaced because he doesn't have HR power? He provides AVG, OB, contact, 2 strike ability, and stands in well against LHP. He also plays outstanding defense at 1B.

SOMETHING has clearly changed in Mauer and it would clearly seem to be further healing and removal from his concussion issues. He's also been healthier since the move to 1B. Unless his 2017 season and start to this season are illusions, he should be brought back.

At this point, nothing wrong going 1 year at a time. But I'd bet 2 years for around $10M per. And I'd think that would be very fair to all parties.

As a side note, and not an attempt to change the thread, but Mauer at $10M and Dozier re-signed for $18M per would still be less than they are making combined this season, (approximately $33M I believe).
    • Kelly Vance, Nine of twelve and Borealis like this

It all depends on:

 

(1) Salary. Would he sign continuous 1-year contracts for $8-10, or will it be $10-13 (or more).

 

(2) Who's on first. Rooker and Diaz are at least a year out for regular play. Morrison could be a choice. Sano breaks down and needs to play 1B or DH. If anything see Sano as cementing the DH spot for a longtime to come if the Twins can find a salary haven they both like.

 

(3) Is there a true job for him with the Twins on the field. Mauer is not going to be a bench player. No doubt, he could find one year deals for a substantial amount of $$$ most anywhere, as long as he wants to play, and don't see him playing for a mil (shades of Ichiro) when Joe turns 40.

 

 

Mauer made a clear and obvious adjustment last year. Surrounded by better hitters, Mauer's getting better pitches to hit and he doesn't appear to be pressing as hard as he was.

 

Mauer is swinging at far fewer pitches outside the zone, he's making much better contact, and he's seeing higher hard-hit rates. His K rate continued its 3rd consecutive annual decline, his line drive rate rebounded and he didn't lose any significant speed from the previous season.

 

I think Mauer could have another, better, season this year if he continues to punish teams for shifting against him and his HR/FB rate gets back to where it was for 4 of the previous 5 seasons. I don't think an OPS in the mid-800s and a 3.5-4.0 WAR is out of the question.

    • VirginSturgeon and Borealis like this

 

I will simply say this and move forward,....

Why are we pushing Joe out there for three more years given he suffered post-traumatic effects from a brain injury for three seasons?Someone that has suffered a traumatic brain injury needn't be playing professional sports into their late 30s. The guy has a family to think of and he has all the money he could ever need.

 

First of all, neither I nor anyone else is "pushing him out there." He wants to be there, and he's a good player. And not only does Joe not have to play pro sports, he doesn't have to do a goddamn thing the rest of his life.

 

And literally none of that is the point, nor is any of it a good argument.

 

Does he want to continue playing? Apparently yes. Has he healed up well? Apparently yes. Can he continue to help the team? Apparently yes. He sure did last year, and so far this year it's looking very good. Attempting to hide behind a fake concern for his family is just cynical.

 

So...I think we're done here.

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Kelly Vance
Apr 13 2018 10:30 PM

 

There are many Carew jerseys. I recommend against signing Rod.

deliberately miss the point much?  Fans revere Carew, Killebrew, Oliva, Kirby. But Joe is bringing in revenue way beyond those guys combined. 

 

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Kelly Vance
Apr 13 2018 10:45 PM

 

Hits AS A CATCHER with (home runs and RBI at that position):

 

Bench:1,464 (327, 1,184)

Piazza: 1,906 (396, 1,205)

Fisk: 2,145 (351, 1,197)

Berra: 1,756 (291, 1,256)

 

How about this guy?
Simmons: 1,908 (195, 1,062)

 

AS A CATCHER

Mauer: 1,118 (91, 514)

 

 

 

If we are going to compare Mauer to other catchers then it necessitates a comparison to those other catchers based on what they did at the catcher's position.It's only right if we are going to compare him to those players.The writer's with voting credentials will most certainly discuss and review those numbers.It will matter

forgetting, of course, that Mauer is more versatile than allofthoseguys

    • Nine of twelve likes this

 

Some talk about Joe's HOF chances on another thread. Thought I'd add some food for thought:

 

Johnny Bench had 2,048 hits

Mike Piazza had 2,127 hits

Carlton Fisk had 2,356 hits

Yogi Berra had 2,150 hits

 

Joe? He's already at 2,000 and will likely surpass all these guys. Yeah yeah, he's been at first base for a few of those games. I don't think that hurts him as much as some of you think.

Especially if he ends up getting a gold glove at 1st. That should quiet the "but he changed positions" crowd.

    • Kelly Vance likes this

 

Facts: In 2017, among 28 qualified first basemen, Mauer ranked: 

16th in WAR, 19th in wOBA, 19th in wRC+, 20th in OPS,and 5th in batting average :)

 

In other words, in metrics that reflect overall performance, he was in the lowest third in the league.

Yes.Having a first baseman who is in the bottom third of the third basement, hurts a team that wants to compete in the post-season.

 

Tell this to the Astros. They just won a World Series where the only thing their first baseman was effective at was using a racial slur

    • Twins33, ThejacKmp and Kelly Vance like this
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diehardtwinsfan
Apr 14 2018 08:36 AM

The first problem I see is that this is a hard conversation to even fathom until we have a better idea how Joe holds up over the course of this season. I'm going to make an assumption that the Joe we've seen thus far will be pretty similar to the guy that plays the whole year. No, I don't think he will hit .400 (though that will cement the HOF discussion if he does), but I could see a vintage Joe season of a .320 BA, .400 OBP, and a high .400s SLG. That won't be a 6 WAR season at 1st, but it would be pretty respectable, and in an MLB world where there's way too many 2 outcome type guys, a guy like Joe that can get on base more than anyone and has plenty of doubles power to go with it with GG defense. If he does significantly worse, then I'd probably pass, but as long as that OPS stays over .800, I don't see a scenario where upgrading Mauer in the short term will be easy or cheap. 

 

In the minors, you have Vargas (who I'm guessing will not return next year as a 6th year FA) and Rooker. I like Rooker, but I think it's a stretch to say he's going to be ready next year at this time. Realistically, he's likely going to be ready at some point in 2019, but most likely not on April 1. And that is probably a best case scenario. Rooker could stall in AA for all of 2018 and still be a decent prospect, but that would push is ETA to 2020 if that happened.

 

In the majors we have LoMo for 2019 and an opening at DH if Mauer is gone. In 2020, LoMo is gone. Rooker will likely be in the conversation, as could a guy like Lewin Diaz. Perhaps one of the really young guys could surprise, but I'm not sure I'd count on that personally. Bottom line is that other than Rooker, I don't see anyone coming up the pipe that could be a plausible option for 2 spots in 2020 and 1 spot in 2019.

 

That brings me back to Mauer. If he continues to hit, I think there's a good fit here. As a matter of fact, a great one. I don't think a 3-4 year deal would be smart, especially at 36. I do think a 2 year deal with a club or vesting option for a 3rd makes a ton of sense for both parties, especially if Mauer wants to stay. I think he gets somewhere in the 6-10M range per year, and that will depend a lot on how the season plays out. If it's vintage Joe, then probably closer to 10... and I'm fine with that. What I don't see is the team going crazy in FA and getting the best bat out there. We all want that, don't get me wrong, but this will also be a that time where they are doing long term deals with the current core. That high priced deal might mean a guy like Rosario or Kepler ends up being shipped away because they are too expensive. I think Mauer provides plenty of value, and I also think that it's a bit underappreciated in the two outcome baseball that we see today. 

 

So in short, if he keeps hitting, I'm giving him a 2-3 year deal. 

    • DannySD likes this

 

Some talk about Joe's HOF chances on another thread. Thought I'd add some food for thought:

 

Johnny Bench had 2,048 hits

Mike Piazza had 2,127 hits

Carlton Fisk had 2,356 hits

Yogi Berra had 2,150 hits

 

Joe? He's already at 2,000 and will likely surpass all these guys. Yeah yeah, he's been at first base for a few of those games. I don't think that hurts him as much as some of you think.

 

Wally Joyner - 2,060 hits

Don Mattingly - 2,153 hits

Mark Grace - 2,443 hits

 

Wally Joyner - 2,060 hits

Don Mattingly - 2,153 hits

Mark Grace - 2,443 hits

 

None of them were catchers for the majority of their careers, though. I think that's Joe's ace in the hole.

 

I compared the numbers from what these players did at the catcher position. Those are just facts and those numbers will be reviewed in the process. 

 

You also just compared stats that reflected negatively on Mauer. For example, you didn't compare career averages as a catcher, season highs in batting average (none of those other guys ever batted .365), MVP trophies, or OBP.

 

So I'm guessing you were kinda trying to bash Mauer in relation to those other guys. No problem with that, you are entitled to your opinion. And you made some good points also. I agree Mauer's got an uphill battle but I do think he deserves heavy consideration for the HOF.

FTFY

agreed, too many catcher miles on his legs to reach 3k hits.

Does 2600 or so get him into the Hall? 3 more years would put him less than 50% catcher for his career, which seems to be the threshold for catcher credentials

None of them were catchers for the majority of their careers, though. I think that's Joe's ace in the hole.


Barring injury, Joe at some point in August or September (457 more plate appearances), will no longer have been a catcher for the majority of his career.
    • ThejacKmp and KGB like this

 

agreed, too many catcher miles on his legs to reach 3k hits.

Does 2600 or so get him into the Hall? 3 more years would put him less than 50% catcher for his career, which seems to be the threshold for catcher credentials

 

I would hate to think he would get penalized due to the fact that he slipped under 50% because he was able to play at a major league level into his mid to late 30's.That should not take away from what he did while he was catcher.

    • ThejacKmp and Sconnie like this

 

Let's take it a bit further and look at the huge Mauer contract:

 

2017: Mauer has 2.3 WAR. WAR is worth $10.5 mill. Mauer is worth $24.15 mill
2016: Mauer has 0.9 WAR. WAR is worth $10.2 mill. Mauer is worth $9.18 mill
2015: Mauer has 0.2 WAR. WAR is worth $9.6 mill. Mauer is worth $1.92 mill
2014: Mauer has 1.6 WAR. WAR is worth $7.7 mill. Mauer is worth $12.32 mill
2013: Mauer has 5.2 WAR. WAR is worth $7.2 mill. Mauer is worth $37.44 mill
2012: Mauer has 4.5 WAR. WAR is worth $6.2 mill. Mauer is worth $27.9 mill
2011: Mauer has 1.2 WAR. WAR is worth $7.4 mill. Mauer is worth $8.88 mill.

 

Thus far Mauer has been worth $121.79 million in all but the final year of a $184 million contract. 

 

He needs a pretty big throwback season to make the whole contract worth it. If WAR is worth $10.5 million this year he'd need a 6.0 WAR season. So far he has 0.6 WAR and is on pace for 8.8 WAR. Let's rewrite this narrative and make that contract worth it!

 

If you were replace Joe Mauer's down years since his concussion with his career average WAR, that would add up to $200 million.  Injuries are part of baseball.Such is the nature of guaranteed MLB contracts.This risk from injury is transferred from the player to the owner.The owner should really insure against the risk of such injury.I am happy that Joe Mauer was able to return from his concussion (unlike Cory Koskie and Justin Morneau).Perhaps one of the learnings here is just how long it takes for the brain to fully recover from a concussion.

 

As the article is about Joe Mauer's future.I hope he remains a productive member of the Twins for his entire career and makes it to the Hall of Fame.I also look forward to the day when advanced sabermetrics can quantify the value of a great defensive first baseman.

I would hate to think he would get penalized due to the fact that he slipped under 50% because he was able to play at a major league level into his mid to late 30's. That should not take away from what he did while he was catcher.

true, but the bar is higher for first basemen. Joe playing catcher is historic. Joe playing first base is excellent, but not HOF. At what point does the scale tip?

Like all non-HoF articles about Joe Mauer, they invariably go off topic and seek to argue his HoF likelihood.

 

This topic was, as I understand it, about who Joe Mauer is now, and what he might do for the Twins or another team in baseball next season and beyond. Mauer's distant past (as a catcher) is irrelevant unless some team out there wants Joe back behind the plate and Mauer likes that idea too, both of which seem highly unlikely.

 

Barring significant injury or a terrible season, Joe is going to be in MLB next season. I think that much is almost certain. The question is whether or not it is with the Twins.

    • Carole Keller likes this
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Kelly Vance
Apr 14 2018 11:51 AM

You know, I had this idea that Joe ought to sign a blank contract and give the Twins the right to write in the number.  Andre Dawson did that in 1987 with the Cubs and guess who is in the HOF? 

 

But you know, Joe could become known as the greatest team player ever if he said "I've been given a lot by the Twins. I'll play 2019 for free."  Things like that make a man immortal. 

 

It is so rare... that is why it will never happen. Still, my naivete aside,  it would set him apart from everybody


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