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Article: Hey Joe, What's Next?

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#1 Ted Schwerzler

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 07:36 PM

In listening to the latest episode of Aaron Gleemen and John Bonnes' Gleeman and the Geek, I found myself pondering a question the pair posed. in wondering what happens next for the Minnesota Twins first basemen Joe Mauer, it seemed they both felt as though a high likelihood that he play for another team in 2019 is present. My feelings have always been to the contrary, and it seems as though yours lie in a similar place.Using the Twittersphere to conduct a quick impromptu poll, just over 100 responses rolled in to the question, "What do you think Joe Mauer does in 2019?" With the available responses being that he stays with the Twins, heads elsewhere, or retires, there was an overwhelming response regarding two of the three outcomes. Most of the respondents suggested that the hometown boy will stick with the Twins a year after his current contract is up. Roughly one-third of the vote reflected a belief he
retires, and a small 9% minority believes that he will go elsewhere.



When judging what's next for Mauer, I think there are a few things in play. Obviously at this point in time, we have no idea how 2018 will play out for the Twins first basemen. He's coming off the first season since 2013 in which he hit above .300, and it's also the first time his OPS has been above .800 since that same season. He very nearly (and should've) won a Gold Glove, and the 2.3 fWAR made him a very solid asset for Minnesota.

In trying to project what will happen a year from now, I believe we have two relatively straightforward paths. Should Mauer again be a productive player, he's probably looking at a one- or two-year deal from Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. If he happens to fall off a cliff in his age 35 season, I'd have to imagine he'll consider retirement on his own. What I don't foresee happening is the St. Paul native relocating to a new city in his 16th big league season, to hang on for a short amount of time.

First and foremost, Mauer's family is in Minnesota. As a dad of twin girls, uprooting them and his wife at this stage in his career seems like a relatively unnecessary burden. Considering the on-field aspects of any change, the reality is that even with a great year, a long term commitment isn't going to be made for a player entering his age 36 season. A one or two year scenario that could see Mauer relegated to relief duty by the end of it, seems to suggest joining a new club would be a pretty difficult ask. At first base, high OPS and power hitting players are the ones generally welcomed as bench bats. On top of that, while Mauer isn't a nuisance, he's more of a lead by example type than a traditional vocal clubhouse leader.

Acknowledging that the current front office isn't composed the same way as it was in 2015, the Minnesota Twins handed Torii Hunter a one-year $10.5 million that season. He was coming off a .765 OPS with the Tigers, and had become a relative liability in the field. For Minnesota in 2015, he posted a .702 OPS (worst since 1999) and played in 139 games. His largest impact on the team was easily in the clubhouse, and he helped to push that team to an unexpected winning season.

Unable to be counted on for 15 plus home runs, or an energizing clubhouse presence like Torii, Mauer will need to prove his value in other ways. I can't see the current Twins front office dangling anything close to a $10 million deal, but something near 50% of that could make some sense. A team-friendly deal that allows Mauer to contribute with his glove, while providing some value with his bat, would be something I think Falvey and Levine would sign up for.

At this point, it's far too early to speculate what a deal may look like, or how the playing options going forward could shake out. So much of that narrative will depend on the production put forth in the campaign that lies ahead. What I do believe to be certain however, is that Mauer will either remain a Twin or will walk away. I fail to see a scenario in which he's the best option for an opposing club, and similarly, where they're the best option for him. When the dust settles, it will definitely be the end of an era. From there, we'll have five years to discuss what his journey to Cooperstown could be like.

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#2 Old Twins Cap

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:29 PM

Mauer is racking up impressive numbers, on a career basis, and there may be interest on his part in adding to them in the out years -- without doing too much damage to lifetime Batting Average.

 

Halls of Fame, lifetime rankings, those are the measures that get to guys at the end of their careers, as in "How good was I as a player compared to other guys?"

 

And, the ring thing.

 

I think Mauer hangs around and continues to build a legacy.Minnesota would obviously be first choice, but how does he fit?And, what about money, a world series?  

 

It's going to be a telling moment in the story of Joe.

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#3 diehardtwinsfan

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 08:40 PM

I think he sticks around. Even if he has a bad season, I wouldn't be surprised if he took a small deal to be a utility player.A lot though hinges on 2018. Another good year, and I could see him trying to stick around for 4-5 years for a shot at the 3000 hit club. That's probably his easiest way into the HOF.

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#4 Riverbrian

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:58 PM

 

I think he sticks around. Even if he has a bad season, I wouldn't be surprised if he took a small deal to be a utility player.A lot though hinges on 2018. Another good year, and I could see him trying to stick around for 4-5 years for a shot at the 3000 hit club. That's probably his easiest way into the HOF.

 

Yep... Let's see how 2017 goes. 

 

My hope is that the Twins Front Office is fair to Joe and I hope that Joe is fair to the Twins and they reach an easy agreement on a series of 1 year contracts for quite a bit less annual value until Joe says it's time to leave. 

 

The hard part is while I hope this happens.... I also hope that the presence of Joe doesn't prevent the Twins from bringing in a big time 1st baseman. 

 

I hope the Twins uniform is the only uniform he wears and I think it will take mutual desire and cooperation to make that happen. . 

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#5 DocBauer

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 09:59 PM

I have always appreciated Joe and have been a fan, even though he has frustrated me at times for lack of power for such a big and athletic specimen, as well as for letting so many seemingly good first pitches pass him by. With no disrespect, I felt age and injury were simply catching up and hoped he would hang it up when his contract was up. HOWEVER, I don't think any of us saw his 2017 re-surgance coming. I honestly have a hard time believing he was simply lucky. It seems to me experience, adjustments, and more time recovered from his concussions allowed him to regain his stroke. (Morneau did similar in Colorado for a time as well).

A repeat performance in 2018 should get him a 1 or 2 year deal and shouldn't scare anyone. His homework is excellent, and his contributions in the 2 hole are fine. A lineup just isn't always built with "traditional" hitters at each spot. And there is so much offense and offensive potential scattered throughout this lineup, that a lack of a true power hitting 1B is not a detriment, especially when he contributes in other ways offensively and defensively.

Mauer's play in 2018 will be the biggest factor, of course. But the health of Sano, (hopeful, but what if he is forced off 3B?), any re-signing of Dozier, and maybe even a fast track for Rooker could all be factors as well.

But I don't see him moving on to anywhere else.
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#6 Blackjack

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:44 AM

Its hard to factor in the desire for WS championship ring vs. playing for one team your whole career. What if the Yankees or Red Sox call in 2019 and tell him 'you're what we need to get over the hump, play some first base and DH', we think we can get to the WS with you.We know he's made plenty of money and his family is here but a ring would cap off his career.

 

Personally I think he stays with the Twins in 2019, sign an incentive laden contract with options for 2020, if the Twins look like they are on the brink of a playoff run, hes going to want to be a part of it.


#7 killertwinfan

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 07:56 AM

Hopefully the FO takes a business approach and appropriately factors his potential value to the team.Yes, it would be cool for Joe to play for the Twins his entire career but I don't see this situation like we had with Oliva, Puckett, Herbek, Radke & Bush.I never felt we overpaid for any of these players. After a decade of feeling we got poor value,it seems like any deal for him needs to be team friendly. 


#8 Respy

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:26 AM

Perhaps Joe is too old to make the switch at this point, and perhaps it's blasphemic of me to say this after Joe nearly won a gold glove at first base, but perhaps Joe could still move to third base?I know when he was moving out from catcher, there was talk of him at third, first, or corner outfield.I always thought he had the right skill set to play third, but maybe not at age 35-36.We'll see how 2017 goes, but I'll be surprised if the Twins can keep him as an everyday first baseman, especially with Sano on the roster and Rooker potentially coming soon.


#9 rdehring

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:35 AM

Although a two year contract may be possible, I see him and the Twins at the point of doing one year contracts moving forward.I agree that $10mm may be a bit high, but for 2019 I see $5mm as too low.Expect something more in the $7mm-$8mm range.

 

How long does he last?I think its realistic to see him play two or maybe even three years beyond 2018.


#10 mnfireman

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 08:47 AM

My belief is that he will either re-sign with the Twins or retire. He was born and raised in the metro, opted to sign with the team instead of going away to college, signed his big contract before hitting free agency and is raising a family here.
He also doesn't seem the type to chase numbers or money. I believe if he doesn't have a contract by or before early next off-season he will announce his retirement rather than being forced to retire because of no free agent offers (look how slowly free agency is moving along this year with all the young front office guys and the sabermetrics). He then joins Molitors staff and is groomed to become the teams manager (JK, he might join the front office, but probably decides to play golf and raise kids).

#11 Puckett34

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:03 AM

I think they give Joe a two year contract with a team option for a third year.  He's still a top 10 1st baseman as far as WAR is concerned.  He may not be flashy, loud, etc... but I think he still provides a lot of value.   So long as Rooker isn't knocking the door down or Sano is forced off of 3rd, Joe stays for a few more years, at a far reduced rate.

 

*disclaimer*this is all assuming that he plays at or around his 2017 year.  If he's closer to 2015-2016, might be tougher for him to stick.

Edited by Puckett34, 10 January 2018 - 09:04 AM.

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#12 laloesch

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:18 AM

 

My belief is that he will either re-sign with the Twins or retire. He was born and raised in the metro, opted to sign with the team instead of going away to college, signed his big contract before hitting free agency and is raising a family here.
He also doesn't seem the type to chase numbers or money. I believe if he doesn't have a contract by or before early next off-season he will announce his retirement rather than being forced to retire because of no free agent offers (look how slowly free agency is moving along this year with all the young front office guys and the sabermetrics). He then joins Molitors staff and is groomed to become the teams manager (JK, he might join the front office, but probably decides to play golf and raise kids).

 

Correction. he lives the offseason in Florida.

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#13 ThejacKmp

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:25 AM

 

HOWEVER, I don't think any of us saw his 2017 re-surgance coming. I honestly have a hard time believing he was simply lucky. 

 

I saw it coming. I proclaimed it loudly on this site and in my personal life. Then again I'd done the same thing the two years before that so perhaps that's not much of an achievement.

 

The Twins don't have a left-handed first baseman coming up the pipeline. The reports that Sano will be a 1B/DH this year seem premature and pessimistic. I expect him to be mostly a 3B for the next few years. Rooker can play DH/1B/OF so he's not going to push Joe out. I don't see the Twins dipping into free agency. Lewin Diaz is 2-4 years away.

 

Joe will have another good year and sign a 2 year $16 million deal with the Twins. This will let him retire as a Twin.

 

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#14 D. Hocking

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 09:45 AM

 

Correction. he lives the offseason in Florida.

 

I know he still spends time there, esp. right before spring training, but didn't that change when he got married?I remember an interview of Perkins a couple of years ago where he said Joe no longer did the complete FL move in the off-season and they had spent the winter building an ice rink.Even when he did the move, it seemed like he was in town a fair amount through the holidays.

 

I think there were signs of the 2017 resurgence in 2016, but it got derailed by the hamstring injury.August and Sept. really sunk his numbers for the season and Molitor said it was a mistake that they did not DL him.

 

I am guessing there will be a one or probably two year deal after this year.I see him retiring before playing elsewhere.

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#15 birddog

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:07 AM

I think Joe is leaning toward retirement. He has never been an ego type who needs accolades, so I think he willWe all hope Joe can have a 2018 like his 2017. If he has overcome his concussion, that is definitely a possibility. I would like to hope that any decision on 2019 and beyond is based on a team-friendly contract of course, but more importantly on the readiness of our young prospects to take over at 1B. If they project better than Mauer stats, the decision has to be made to play the best player.


#16 REPETE

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:46 AM

 

Although a two year contract may be possible, I see him and the Twins at the point of doing one year contracts moving forward.I agree that $10mm may be a bit high, but for 2019 I see $5mm as too low.Expect something more in the $7mm-$8mm range.

 

How long does he last?I think its realistic to see him play two or maybe even three years beyond 2018.

I know this never happens, but any chance Mauer stays on for 1-2 more years at a paltry sum of $2-3M/year, and tells the Pohlads to spend the extra money to get him a ring? 


#17 bobs

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 10:55 AM

 

I saw it coming. I proclaimed it loudly on this site and in my personal life. Then again I'd done the same thing the two years before that so perhaps that's not much of an achievement.

 

The Twins don't have a left-handed first baseman coming up the pipeline. The reports that Sano will be a 1B/DH this year seem premature and pessimistic. I expect him to be mostly a 3B for the next few years. Rooker can play DH/1B/OF so he's not going to push Joe out. I don't see the Twins dipping into free agency. Lewin Diaz is 2-4 years away.

 

Joe will have another good year and sign a 2 year $16 million deal with the Twins. This will let him retire as a Twin.

Sounds about right to me.


#18 RaymondLuxuryYacht

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 11:17 AM

Reminds me of the economist who predicted seven of the last three recessions.

 

 

I saw it coming. I proclaimed it loudly on this site and in my personal life. Then again I'd done the same thing the two years before that so perhaps that's not much of an achievement.

 

 

 

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#19 Thrylos

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:10 PM

Too early to tell. Factors:  

 

  • How he will perform this season
  • How Vargas will perform this season
  • How Kepler will perform this season
  • How far Rooker is along
  • How much $ he wants
  • Who else out there can be an one year bargain FA at 1B
  • How the Twins do in 2018

This should not be about making Joe Mauer comfortable or a lifetime Twin, it should be about making the Twins as competitive as possible in 2019.

 

Matt Adams who is 29 and had a .274/.319/.522 (117 OPS+) line with 20 HR in 339 ABlast season, signed an 1 yr / $4M deal with the Nats this season.He is also a free agent after his age 30 season...

 

Two early to tell.I'd give it till next October to think about it.

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#20 RegularJoe62

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 12:32 PM

I just don't get the "meh" attitude about Mauer here. We seem to place no value in a guy just quietly going about doing his job well. 25 guys in all of MLB hit above 300 this year, and he did that with Gold Glove level defense. If he repeats that in 2018, he'll be in demand as a free agent, despite his age. 




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