What Needs To Happen For Joe Mauer To Be A Twin In 2019?
Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY SportsEntering 2019, Mauer will be going into his age 36 season with what will at best be a slightly above average bat and good defense. The problem is he is limited to playing first base, and there are plenty of quality bats at first to go around. Additionally, first base is a position that is very limited in the upside a quality defensive player can bring. This will make it very easy for "Falvine" to replace Mauer with a quality player after his contract expires.
I am sure most Twins fans, myself included, would like to see Joe Mauer play out the rest of his career in a Twins uniform. So, the question is, what will it take for that to happen?
Joe Mauer Repeats His 2017 Season
Mauer’s turnaround last season was a big part of the Twins improved level of play. A big reason for his success was his strikeout rate falling to 13.9%, the lowest it has been since 2012. Mauer also had by far his best defensive season since moving to first base. This resulted in a 2.3 fWAR season from the one-time MVP, twice as much as he put up in 2015 and 2016 combined.
If Mauer can repeat his success again in 2018, he will still be a viable MLB option a first going into 2019. However, if he shows some regression, and returns to his previous form, it would be tough for Joe to even get an MLB contract next winter.
Logan Morrison’s Option Doesn’t Get Picked Up
Perhaps the surprise of the Twins offseason was inking Logan Morrison to a one year and $6.5 million contract, with a vesting option for a second year if he reaches 500 plate appearances this season. If this option gets picked up, it will take up one of the two potential spots that Joe Mauer could fill as a member of the 2019 Minnesota Twins.
Additionally, bringing back Mauer to team up with Morrison as the first base/DH duo would still leave the Twins with the double lefty problem that currently exists. The front office was willing to make this work given the fact that Morrison is otherwise a steal at $6.5 million. Going into next offseason, there might be a few right-handed hitting options at first that might be more appealing to the Twins.
Brent Rooker Isn’t MLB Ready for The Start of 2019
Even though Brent Rooker was drafted as an outfielder and did see roughly 75% of his playing time last season in left, many believe that he will eventually break through with the Twins as either a first baseman or a designated hitter. The biggest reasons for this are his large 6’3” frame profiling better at first along with the crowded young outfield that the Twins already possess.
If Rooker continues to tear up minor league pitching, the 23-year-old will fly up through the Twins system and could even push for a spot in 2018. Rooker also brings the element of a right-handed power bat that the Twins will need in 2019, especially if they lose Brian Dozier to free agency.
Miguel Sano Can Stay at Third Base
One of the biggest question marks that the Twins need to answer this season is the long-term ability for Miguel Sano to stay at third base. If Sano can somehow play an adequate third base (given both the titanium rod in his leg and the lack of ability he has shown in the past) it would be a near miracle.
If Sano shows that he will be unable to stick at third, the most logical move would be to either first base or DH. This would create an even bigger logjam for Mauer to remain with the team given that Sano is under team control through at least the 2021 season.
Joe Mauer Takes a Hometown Discount
There is no question that the St. Paul native, who has known only one city for his growing up years and entire major league life, would love to finish out his career in Minnesota. In fact, it is hard to think of many players in the history of major league baseball who had more of a reason to take a hometown discount than Joe Mauer.
That being said, I am not Joe Mauer, so therefore I can not definitively say whether or not he will be willing to take a hometown discount, and if so how much of one. That will be something that Joe will need to consider before he decides on his future next winter.
As great as it would be for Joe Mauer to play out his career in Minnesota, it is hard to see that happening without at least three or four of these things happening. Given that the Twins would love to see Morrison play well enough to earn his option for 2019, and for Rooker to force their hand as soon as possible, it will be a catch-22 for Twins fans who wish for Mauer to stay. Hopefully, if 2018 is Joe’s last with the Twins, it will be because of how Morrison and Rooker play this season, and not because of how he plays.
- Blake, Cory Engelhardt, nclahammer and 2 others like this