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Mauer's Future

Posted by Matthew Lenz , 03 January 2018 · 3,504 views

Mauer's Future This article was originally posted back in January, but with Mauer's 2000th hit Tom wanted various Mauer articles. I haven't changed much, but have added more data to support my opinion. I'd also just like to mention that I did not change my opinion on a potential salary for 2019 and beyond despite his torrid start to the season.

It's no secret that Joe Mauer is entering the final year of his 8 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, which I will breakdown below.

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 to 1st base (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 6 qualified players were 36+ years old in '17), he provides no power as a 1B/DH (42/50 in SLG from 2012-2017), 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 1B around the league I would be looking for the Twins to give Mauer a 2-3 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 $8mil per year. Comparatively 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 base line going into next offseason.

I also looked at players that signed in 2016/2017 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 similarliy 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 FO does in free agency over the next couple years the Twins may or may not be legit world series contenders in 2019 or 2020. 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, Chicago (NL), Dodgers, Indians and Nationals are also obvious contenders, but currently have a player who is under contract at 1st base.
3. Retire
From what I have read/heard, there hasn't 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.

  • SQUIRREL, Parker Hageman, Kevin and 7 others like this



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Winston Smith
Jan 03 2018 04:36 PM

I hope he retires. As you point out 36+ yr olds are few and even fewer are the ones that produce. He doesn't need the money and the Twins have guys that can take the spot.

    • Thrylos and darin617 like this

Welcome!I see things a bit differently than you, but that is what a forum is for.As long as we keep Sano and need a place for Rooker to play, do not see a place for Mauer here in 2019.I feel he may already know this and that is one of the reasons his brother and the Twins best minor league manager left the organization. This could change if Sano gets into more trouble or Rooker does not move as fast as hoped. Too many flags for his being resigned here.

He could finish his career elsewhere, but non-power 1B are not an easy fit, especially on a contending team.

I only see two options, he takes a small contract for a part time role here (3- 5 million a year ) or he retires.Sorry to say this, I like Joe, but baseball is a business and I just do not see a big role for him here next year.

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theBOMisthebomb
Jan 03 2018 05:54 PM
The Twins will sign Mauer for 2-3 more years.. because, well, we are Minnesota by the way and that is how we do things. Joe will have a similar year to 2017 in 2018-2020 and be part of a winning club that goes deep into the postseason. I hope he hangs around here long enough to add a Gold Glove to boost his Hall of Fame chances and also to bring a World Series title home.
    • woolywoolhouse likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Jan 03 2018 06:00 PM
It will be interesting to watch what happens. Mauer is a great fielder. I would let him play here as long as he wants and is effective, but for a low salary and year to year.
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Matthew Lenz
Jan 03 2018 06:02 PM

Really?I would be shocked if this happened.And he would be worth every dime of the $8 or $10 that we pay him.

Joe will have a similar year to 2017 in 2018-2020

 

I think right now he is on the outside looking in of the HOF.On the bubble, but his resume falls short.I think winning a GG at 1B and/or WS title would get him in.

I hope he hangs around here long enough to add a Gold Glove to boost his Hall of Fame chances and also to bring a World Series title home.

 

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Winston Smith
Jan 03 2018 06:22 PM

I sure hope Gold Gloves are not used by HOF voters to asses players. Probably the worst most meaningless award offered, imo.

    • Matthew Lenz likes this
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Matthew Lenz
Jan 03 2018 06:47 PM

You're telling me. But in reality, I have to imagine they have some sort of impact on voters.Even if it's just a little bit...I can't believe they mean absolutely nothing to voters.

I sure hope Gold Gloves are not used by HOF voters to asses players. Probably the worst most meaningless award offered, imo.

 

I'd keep Joe for a couple more years after his contract is up if he wants to keep playing. I do think HOF voters look at Gold Glove awards. Bill Mazeroski and Brooks Robinson come to mind. 

    • Matthew Lenz likes this
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John Bonnes
Jan 04 2018 07:26 AM
Thanks for jumping in and this is a good I was wondering if you found any contracts you thought were comparable. Specifically, which ones? I’d be interested in comparing them. (I also wonder about the willingness of this front office to give a multi-year deal to a fairly average veteran. I’m not sure I see that happening.)
    • Matthew Lenz likes this

Good post! The absolute quiet about this is kind of surprising. Makes me wonder if Joe is contemplating retirement.

 

As with others, I'd look to re-sign Joe on the Super-Cheap.

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nicksaviking
Jan 04 2018 07:55 AM

I'm in the minority, but I think Mauer goes elsewhere. Specifically, TB which is near where he currently resides when he's not playing for the Twins.

 

TB consistently signs recycled veteran first basemen: James Loney, Carlos Pena, Casey Kotchman and most recently Logan Morrison. They tend to rebound nicely there too.

    • markos likes this

I think it would be horrible if he signed elsewhere. There's not much better than a player who spends his whole career with one team and one organization (Puckett, Hrbek, Ripken), and it's rare. Mauer was strong in 2017. Obviously let's see how 2018 goes. But there isn't anyone right now that's close to ready to take his spot. He's still an on-base machine. He's terrific at first base with the glove. 

 

In a year, all of that might be different, but I personally would like to see him keep climbing up all of the all-time Twins stats. And, he'll be older, and there will need to be more games where he isn't playing, which may allow them to ease in someone like Brent Rooker if he's ready in 2019. Rooker can play 1B, LF, RF, DH. Mauer can DH more. There is definitely a way to keep him, and they should...

 

Especially since we'll be talking about $4-8 million instead of $23M. 

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Cory Engelhardt
Jan 04 2018 08:39 AM

I think Mauer can and should go year to year as long as he wants to play. He still gets on base at a healthy clip, gives you good at bats, plays well above average defense (which helps the other infielders who are on the younger side make their way) and is still the face of the franchise in many respects.

 

You mention Sano and Rooker; we all love the potential with their bats, but there is no guarantee they will be able to field as well as Mauer in 2019 or 2020. Rooker may be a career DH they hide in LF for a few years, and Sano may be a career DH by that point too. Defense is important.

 

If Mauer wants to retire that is his choice. If he wants to continue playing (and is still productive, which I think is probable) I hope it is with the Twins.

 

Oh, and lastly, congrats on the first post!

Welcome to the world of independent blog contributors at TD. We may be having jackets made.

 

Two years ago, I'd have been 100% sure that Mauer would get the kind of 2-3 year deal being talked about here. As theBOMisthebomb said, "that is how we do things," in Minnesota.

 

I think, though, the fact that he isn't already signed to some sort of extension is a reminder that this is not the Twins front office it used to be. Mauer is going to have to show that 2017 wasn't a fluke - that he is indeed once again the on-base machine he was this past season.

 

This front office doesn't seem to be terribly prone to taking action based on sentiment. Not that they would want to treat a hometown hero with disrespect, but if Joe and his agent are disinclined to accept team-friendly terms and/or a reduced role - or if Mauer's productivity declines at all in 2018 - I don't think Falvine will hesitate to cut ties.

 

There are too many unknowns for me to give odds on what happens with Mauer, yet. Rooker'sprogress, the uncertainty of Sano's situation, as well as Mauer's own health and productivity.

 

But right this moment, I don't think the chances he returns are quite as high as we might otherwise think.

 

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Matthew Lenz
Jan 04 2018 01:25 PM

 

Thanks for jumping in and this is a good I was wondering if you found any contracts you thought were comparable. Specifically, which ones? I’d be interested in comparing them. (I also wonder about the willingness of this front office to give a multi-year deal to a fairly average veteran. I’m not sure I see that happening.)

This is the biggest thing I would fix on my first post.I looked up data that I mentioned, but thought it would be too cumbersome to add the specifics in my post.Ultimately, I think it would have made the article a little more insightful to readers.Anyway, here was my line of thinking:

  • This offseason has been slow, but Yonder Alonso signed with the Indians for $8mil per year.Comparatively 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 (and teams) 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. If that makes sense.
  • I also looked at players that signed in 2016/2017 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 similarliy to how he did in '17.

The other thing I should have clarified is that I am making this prediction thinking that Mauer will be as close to full-time as he can be.Which I see being about 120 games as a 1B/DH.If he can only be a part-time player, then yes I see him getting about half of my prediction.Personally, I don't think he would agree to anything less than a multi-year deal.

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Lee-The-Twins-Fan
Jan 04 2018 02:48 PM

I just posted this on another thread, but it seems even more appropriate here.

 

Nick Nelson, on 04 Jan 2018 - 09:15 AM, said:
Question for you: If the Twins suddenly didn't have Mauer available to them, how much worse off are they? Move Sano to first, start Escobar at 3rd, find a DH or just use Grossman. And then you've got an extra 23 mil to spend elsewhere.

He's a fine player but he's just not indispensable to the franchise in any way at this point.


Other than maybe Byron Buxton, Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana and Jose Berrios, do we have anyone who's "Indispensable"? I would not argue that Mauer is indispensable, but I respectfully disagree with your premise; They would be much worse off without Mauer. He's not indispensable, but he is important - especially for his defense and his on-base skills. 

Sano does not have the defensive skills at 1B that Mauer has. He's fine at 3B, but not at 1B. Mauer digs balls out of the dirt and reaches high for balls thrown by other infielders. He makes Dozier, Polanco and Sano much better, because they know he will get their throws.

On other teams, how many throws (that Mauer gets now) go down as throwing errors because the !B could not dig it out of the dirt?

And who's going to replace his on-base ability, and his ability to hit with 2 strikes?

Mauer may not be indispensable, but he's very important to the Twins. Has he been overpaid during his contract? Sure. But i'd be willing (if I were the Twins GM) to offer him three or four more years at $10-$12 million a year. He brings a lot of value to this team.

I don't think Twins fans realize what a luxury Mauer has been for this team. He's no longer the player he was - everyone can see that. But he still finished in the Top 10 in both OBP and BA last year. He played his part in this team's success, like it or not. Mauer's going to give you .285 / 9 / 72 while sitting in the top 5 in the league in on base percentage. When your 2nd baseman's hitting 40 home runs, I think you can take those numbers from your 1st baseman.

 

It's going to take time to develop Mauer's replacement. Mitch Garver didn't exactly set the world on fire during his first cup of coffee, and this Rooker kid won't either. If the Twins can sign Mauer for a hometown discount - something he certainly owes this franchise - they should sign him for a 2-year deal. Let him mentor the new kid, platoon, pinch hit, and fill in defensively.

1. As already pointed out, Joe's offseason home is in Florida not Minnesota. Fora discounted 2-3 year contact, I see him prefering to go home every night and be with his family.

 

2. Firstbase is usually a position assigned to a power and production bat. Joe has never been that. Unless he suddenly rediscovers a 900 plus OPS, with RBI ability, his playing time would greatly decline over the life of an extension.

 

3. With 13 men pitching staffs, bench roles are at a premiun and not usually allocated to part time firstbasemen/DH's with little power. 

 

Joe was a great catcher, but I don't see him continue to risk his health to hang on for a few more years. That is, I think he retires.

I think if anyone believes Mauer will sign for only 8M a year or less a year they are kidding themselves.

For a guy who is making $23M this year to be a 1B, which historically is a power hitters position, you can't be happy with the fact that there is a "more likely than not" chance that he will hit less than 10 home runs, drive in less than 60 runs, and have a an average of .280. You know who could also do that? Probably every first baseman in AAA.  

 

Mauer past 4 seasons (2014-2017) average stats:

66 runs, 8 homer runs, 60 RBIs, .277 AVG, .361 OBP, and .389 SLG

Salary: $23M

Age: 31-34

 

How about the Twins sign a better "washed up" First Baseman that actually produces stats at the plate?

 

Player B past 4 season average stats:

55 Runs, 26 Homeruns, 71 RBIs, .239 AVG, .314 OBP, and .463 SLG

Salary: $2M

Age: 26-29

 

Player B is Pedro Alvarez, a free agent who will outperform Mauer every damn day and signed a 1 year deal with the Orielles for $2M in 2017.

 

Mauer may be "Minnesota Nice" but if the Twins sign Mauer for a contract extension who is a slap hitting, singles hitter, then I also hope that they give Ichiro Suzuki a call in the off-season as well. 

 

Look at the 2017 Free Agent 1B class that were signed by other teams:

Mike Napoli - $6M by Rangers

Mitch Moreland $5.5M by Redsox

Chris Carter $3.5M by Yankees

Pedro Alvarez - $2M by Oreilles

Adam Lind- $1.5M by Nationals

 

I'll take any one of those 1B for 1/4th of Mauer's asking price which will run in the $10-14M range.

 

Mauer should join Tebow's path, and give it a shot at trying out for the NFL and pursuing other career aspirations.Long story short, if Minnesota re-signs Mauer over Dozier, they are absolutely insane and should clean out upper management.

 

Speaking of the Twins signing washed up old dudes, I'm glad to see that Fernando Rodney signed a 1 year $8M contract last month.

 

@Lenzy2108 - great blog article.I look forward to reading future write-ups by you that have engaging points backed up by statistical analysis.My critique for future articles is to tell the story from both sides of the plate, it was very easy to determine your bias when reading this.That bias sparked me to type the above post.Props to you my friend!