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I have little doubt that if Joe Mauer wants to keep playing in 2019, he will be with the Twins. And Twins fans should want that and applaud that.

 

Obviously they won't sign him to an extension. He's not going to make $23 million in 2019. He's likely get somewhere between like $2-6 million, and he'd likely be worth that easily on the field, much less the value he bring to the organization and with fans who aren't as analytical as we are and still lover the little things and memories and better appreciate the greatness that Mauer has been in the Twins organization and history. 

 

Obviously his role would be potentially diminished, depending on his performance.

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Not sure I get the hate for Sano at 3B. He's been very good over there. No need to move him anytime soon. This is coming from someone who saw him in A ball and thought he would never make it as a 3B.

1.) The Twins have a real organizational dearth of MLB ready DH/1B types. Vargas, Palka and Byung Ho all don't seem to be in the long-term plans of the Twins at this point. Vargas seems the most likel

I have little doubt that if Joe Mauer wants to keep playing in 2019, he will be with the Twins. And Twins fans should want that and applaud that.   Obviously they won't sign him to an extension. He's

I put the odds at >50% that Joe Mauer will want to continue with his MLB career after his current contract expires at the end of next season. However, I do not know what the odds are that Derek Falvey wants Mauer to continue his career in a Twins uniform. There's still another year to go before the Twins need to worry or make any serious decisions about that.

 

But what I do know is that Mauer has transitioned very well defensively into a solid first baseman, so that's a positive. His offensive numbers have gone down and are not typical of a first baseman, so he would definitely have to take a large pay cut in order to continue his career. However, Sano has played well at 3rd base and is still young, so I don't think the Twins need to rush moving him over to first base yet. Sano will be fine at 3rd base for a few more years if the Twins re-sign Mauer for a couple of more years.

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1B seems like it would be one of the easiest positions to to acquire by free-agency.

 

I do appreciate Mauer's defense, but 5 HR and 45 RBI, .377 slugging, all pretty sub-par.

 

If it's just to have him break some team records, I'd say no thanks.

 

See I think the issue people have with Mauer is they have a preconceived notion of 1B as someone who has to hit for power. That's typically true but value is value in my book. Can you go get someone who hits 20 homers on the bargain 1B market? Probably. But that guy's going to hit .240 and get OBP at a .300 clip while striking out a lot. And the Twins have that guy already in spades. I think it's hard to replace Mauer's OBP unless you see a jump from a Kepler or a Polanco. 

 

More HR and SLG is not necessarily if the tradeoff is losing a skill the Twins are pretty lacking in to get something the Twins are already rich in.

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However, I do not know what the odds are that Derek Falvey wants Mauer to continue his career in a Twins uniform. 

 

This. Falvey is a but unknown because he won't have any nostalgia for Mauer. That said, Pohldad's might and it might be something they push? They're hands off but they also like butts in seats and Mauer has a panache for many in Twins Territory. 

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Again, how is a platoon at first base a viable option with a three man bench? The bench is now one catcher, one infielder, one outfielder. That's it. This isn't 1991 when the Twins were carrying 10 pitchers and thus had a 6 man bench everyday. Back then you could have a platoon at one position. Maybe even two. And have a guy who's primary job is to pinch hit. Those days are over. Benches now are all about positional flexibility and if you can get positive offense from ONE of them, great.

 

Again, why can't Rooker be part of a 3 man bench? He can (hopefully) play corner OF and 1B. The Twins have three OF who can play CF and any middle infielder can cover 2B, SS and 3B. Your aforementioned backup C gives complete coverage of every position. A platoon is eminently doable. You know how I know? The Twins are basically doing it at 1B already - Mauer consistently sits against LH pitching, as he should.

 

You're also assuming that the Twins will only have a 3 man bench. They have this year due to starting pitching issues but it seems unlikely the Twins will be this weak there in two years. If they are, this is a pretty moo point.

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2019 depends on what 2018 looks like.

But the Twins would be foolish not to try to keep him around, he is still a .370 OBP guy who should have 3.0-3.4 WAR this year.

Plenty of value IMO, esp considering Vargas is nothing special at all thus far, and no other real DH in the system. Sano should be at 3B for next couple years as well.

I'd guess, if he replicates 2017 next year , that he signs a 2 year contract (I can't see him wanting to go year to year) for about 5-6 mil a year.

Worth it IMO

 

And that includes 86 plate appearances where he's hit from the left side (where he hits like Danny Santana but still adds 100 points of OBP with that batting eye). If you can get that down to a mere handful late in games, all the better.

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Contract is an issue. You can only resign for so much, right?

 

He's not getting $23 million but I don't think this is about money for Joe at this point. If he's got a defined role, he likes playing with the kids and his wife doesn't want him home 24/7 (hard to see what Joe will do after baseball, maybe coach instructional ball in FL?), there's no reason he wouldn't be open to 2 years, $12 million. That's a nice hometown discount but not chump change. It would be great to watch Twins fans have to deal with the fact that Mauer is underpaid. Some people have never forgiven him for that contract.

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See I think the issue people have with Mauer is they have a preconceived notion of 1B as someone who has to hit for power. That's typically true but value is value in my book. Can you go get someone who hits 20 homers on the bargain 1B market? Probably. But that guy's going to hit .240 and get OBP at a .300 clip while striking out a lot. And the Twins have that guy already in spades. I think it's hard to replace Mauer's OBP unless you see a jump from a Kepler or a Polanco. 

 

More HR and SLG is not necessarily if the tradeoff is losing a skill the Twins are pretty lacking in to get something the Twins are already rich in.

 

Fangraphs did a study. If you have a low OBP team, who hits for power, you are better off adding more of the same kind of player, than a high OBP player. 

 

Mauer might make 2 FWAR this year, but I doubt it. I have no interest in comparing him to SS, C, and pitchers ("league average hitter"), but only their other options and other 1B. It seems clear he can't play 140 games and be effective anymore, so if you have him, you need someone that can play 1B 40-60 times. With a tiny bench, not sure how that works really.

 

The real question is, do they have someone that can play 1B or 3B or RF (if you move Sano or Kepler) that is better than Mauer in 2019. Given that he is league median for 1B (and you'd assume he continues to age and his hitting and baserunning will get worse, that's what age does), I'd hope they can find someone that is league median or better that will be here for more than 1 year.

 

Corner OF FA+Kepler at 1B is probably > Kepler in RF and Mauer at 1B by 2019. If not, then Kepler hasn't progressed and isn't all that good a corner OF compared to other corner OF.

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2019 depends on what 2018 looks like.

But the Twins would be foolish not to try to keep him around, he is still a .370 OBP guy who should have 3.0-3.4 WAR this year.

Plenty of value IMO, esp considering Vargas is nothing special at all thus far, and no other real DH in the system. Sano should be at 3B for next couple years as well.

I'd guess, if he replicates 2017 next year , that he signs a 2 year contract (I can't see him wanting to go year to year) for about 5-6 mil a year.

Worth it IMO

 

certainly not by fWAR. Not even close. Where do you get 3 WAR?

Edited by Mike Sixel
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Fangraphs did a study. If you have a low OBP team, who hits for power, you are better off adding more of the same kind of player, than a high OBP player. 

 

Mauer might make 2 FWAR this year, but I doubt it. I have no interest in comparing him to SS, C, and pitchers ("league average hitter"), but only their other options and other 1B. It seems clear he can't play 140 games and be effective anymore, so if you have him, you need someone that can play 1B 40-60 times. With a tiny bench, not sure how that works really.

 

The real question is, do they have someone that can play 1B or 3B or RF (if you move Sano or Kepler) that is better than Mauer in 2019. Given that he is league median for 1B (and you'd assume he continues to age and his hitting and baserunning will get worse, that's what age does), I'd hope they can find someone that is league median or better that will be here for more than 1 year.

 

Corner OF FA+Kepler at 1B is probably > Kepler in RF and Mauer at 1B by 2019. If not, then Kepler hasn't progressed and isn't all that good a corner OF compared to other corner OF.

There's no reason that Joe Mauer can't be one of your 12 position players, that stance has never made any sense. Sano can easily play 1B 40 games per year - and it may be a decent idea to lighten his load at 3B a bit, especially with the Twins having Nick Gordon, Vielma, Lewis etc. knocking on the door while Polanco regains his status as a part of the TWins for the next 5 years. That's the second half of your "platoon" right there. You're free to use your 3 bench spots on C, 4th OF and middle infielder to your heart's delight. And if you carry a 13th position player, that can be anyone.

 

Moving Kepler to 1B seems like a pretty big waste of his outfield ability. He may hit himself off this team but I don't think he's going to field himself to 1B. I'm also not as convinced that a corner OF + Kepler at 1B is a huge upgrade. This year in the OF, the guys signed at the level Mauer would cost were John Jay, Rajai Davis, Matt Joyce, Brandon Moss etc. I'm not sure that any of those guys + Kepler at 1B is an upgrade over Mauer and Kepler, especially when you take fielding into consideration.

 

Mauer could regress but I don't really see it - he already regressed. He's going to be about the same fielder (very good) and base runner (very meh). Speed has never been his game and 1B isn't a position where a lack of speed hurts you. Hitting wise he could fall off but at $6 million/yr, I'd bet on him being what he is now - a guy who can put up right around an 800 OPS against RHP (75% of MLB pitchers) and who is a nice bench bat in games where LHP start (most closers and 8th inning guys are RH and Mauer becomes a nice guy to PH with late in games). He's become an elite defensive 1B and he doesn't lose you games with his baserunning.

 

Unless the Twins are jumping payroll, I'll be disappointed if they don't take advantage of Mauer likely giving a hometown discount while locking up Sano, Buxton and co. Spending money on a big free agent OF or 1B just doesn't fit the team's trajectory. Mauer is a great bridge to Diaz and Sano in three to four years.

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The free agent market for 1B/3B/DH seems like it is better this offseason than in the past and likely better than after 2018. I'd like to see the Twins grab one of Santana, Hosmer, Moustakas, Morrison, JD Martinez, Duda and see how that affects this conversation.

I know, I know, we need pitching, but upgrade where you can when you can.

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The corner players just don't get paid like they used to on the free agent market. Even assuming Mauer is worth rostering in 2019, this is how things tend to play out when a high priced player is facing a depressed market:

 

-Season ends and the team and the player have a conversation during the team's window where they have exclusive rights to re-sign the player.

-Team leaks that there have been talks to re-sign the player causing a rift in the pro-player/move-on-from-the-player fan bases.

-The talks show the player an extreme pay cut so the player decides it can't hurt to see what's on the free agent market.

-The team signs another free agent to fill the player's hole, perhaps even immediately, jumping at the chance to do so knowing that the public has already been made aware that they tried to re-sign the former player but his demands were too high compared to his production.

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I was just thinking about this the other day. I think Kennys Vargas is the player that will dictate whether the Twins will even consider signing Mauer for 2019. I think he'll wind up playing with another team.

 

With Mauer I think it's the same as Perkins -- Twins or retire.

 

Also, I think it's Rooker, not Vargas who'll dictate if anyone does.

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I'm of the "a good defensive 1B is worth more to the rest of the infield than we give him credit for" school of thought. And realistically, very few teams (especially in mid-size markets) are going to ever have an above-average hitter AND defender at every position. So if a guy is still playing Gold Glove defense at age 35 or 36 and has any where near a 95 OPS+, I don't have a problem with playing him so that you can spend the money elsewhere.

I do think it will be important to find a way to lower him in the order, which in itself will soften the blow of being an average to below-average hitter, since it will knock off 50+ plate appearances.

 

I also have a wondering about Mauer. In the big scheme of things, we still know very little about the process of returning from concussions. A part of me hypothesizes that his decline may be a little slower than others -- is it possible that the incremental losses in production due to aging will be mitigated a bit by the incremental improvements of being further and further from a concussion? Of course, maybe it goes the other way and folks fall off the map even more quickly when they've had a concussion -- we just don't know.

 

But here's a question for the old-timers. I looked back at a similar situation 13 years ago, when the strike ended the season at about this time. The Twins had a 34-year-old local boy at 1B whose stats that year are actually quite similar to Mauer's stats as a 34-year-old so far this year. Hrbek retired rather than come back in 1995. So, were folks ragging on Hrbek as much as some are ragging on Mauer now, or is this once again a function of the $23MM contract?

 

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I'm of the "a good defensive 1B is worth more to the rest of the infield than we give him credit for" school of thought. And realistically, very few teams (especially in mid-size markets) are going to ever have an above-average hitter AND defender at every position. So if a guy is still playing Gold Glove defense at age 35 or 36 and has any where near a 95 OPS+, I don't have a problem with playing him so that you can spend the money elsewhere.

 

I do think it will be important to find a way to lower him in the order, which in itself will soften the blow of being an average to below-average hitter, since it will knock off 50+ plate appearances.

 

I also have a wondering about Mauer. In the big scheme of things, we still know very little about the process of returning from concussions. A part of me hypothesizes that his decline may be a little slower than others -- is it possible that the incremental losses in production due to aging will be mitigated a bit by the incremental improvements of being further and further from a concussion? Of course, maybe it goes the other way and folks fall off the map even more quickly when they've had a concussion -- we just don't know.

 

But here's a question for the old-timers. I looked back at a similar situation 13 years ago, when the strike ended the season at about this time. The Twins had a 34-year-old local boy at 1B whose stats that year are actually quite similar to Mauer's stats as a 34-year-old so far this year. Hrbek retired rather than come back in 1995. So, were folks ragging on Hrbek as much as some are ragging on Mauer now, or is this once again a function of the $23MM contract?

One difference is that 1994 was the first time since his rookie year that Hrbek wasn't a well above league average hitter.

This is now 4 straight years of being right around league average for Mauer.

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The more I've thought about it, the more it makes sense to me that Joe Mauer will be on this team longer than just 2018.  His options will be to continue playing on the cheap for some team or retiring.  I think the compromise that he'll see is that if the Twins will have him, he gets to stay home and continue his career.  The money probably doesn't really matter to him.  I'm not sure what the Twins would pay him, but I'd guess they'd have to see some value in his lh bat and ability to play some 1B.

 

It would actually surprise me if Mauer took a multiyear contract in lieu of playing for the Twns...if the Twins want him.  I think Mauer has no real records to chase.  He likes baseball, probably, and he probably wants to be around his parents and kids both.  What do you think happens with Mauer in 2019?

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If he wanted to be around his parents and kids, why did he play baseball? And why did he buy a house in Florida?

 

Could be right but some of your logic has holes in it.

 

I'm not so sure the FO would go with that model. I have no idea what Joe is thinking, but I might take a longer term deal somewhere else just to be able to keep playing. Money might not mean much, but contract length might mean a lot.

Edited by Sconnie
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One difference is that 1994 was the first time since his rookie year that Hrbek wasn't a well above league average hitter.
This is now 4 straight years of being right around league average for Mauer.

 

That's a good thought. That he's largely plateaued also may lend creedence to my hypothesis about his decline potentially being more gradual than others.

 

Again, if he stays at league average hitter and plays outstanding defense, I can live with that. If that's the team's weakest link, that's a good team. 

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For the type of hitter Joe is, if he played middle infield or catcher he would have value. As a 1B/DH or for a bench role he would need to demonstrate power. I don't think for the limited number of bench spots available the Twins can afford to tie up a roster spot for this type of player. Most other teams are in the same boat.

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For the type of hitter Joe is, if he played middle infield or catcher he would have value. As a 1B/DH or for a bench role he would need to demonstrate power. I don't think for the limited number of bench spots available the Twins can afford to tie up a roster spot for this type of player. Most other teams are in the same boat.

 

I don't know. Why do we have to think of each position this way?  I think the Twins can make up for the below-average power at 1B at other positions.  In 2018, I could see the Twins having a really balanced lineup in terms of power (kind of like how the Astros have 11 players with 10+ hrs and only 1 player with more than 20).  It doesn't seem crazy to me to think that Sano, Dozier (if around), Buxton, Rosario, Kepler, Escobar (if around), Polanco, Castro, Mauer, Gordon, Rooker, 2017 DH/OF FA signing all have the potential to hit 10+ home runs in a season, with some (of course) hitting many more.  

 

Of course, not all of those players would be on the team, but I can see many ways that the Twins could have double-digit players hitting double-digit home runs by 2018.  Then, "below average power" at 1B doesn't much.  They also need OBP and Mauer gets on base better than anyone (including Grossman - and is a better fit than Grossman. 

 

Plus, Mauer is still one of the top 5 hitters on this team. It's of course hard to predict what the bench would look like in 2018, but I have a hard time thinking that Mauer playing 80-100 games between 1B and DH wouldn't help the team. 

Edited by olivia11
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So long Joe - we cannot afford him after 2018.  He has no big numbers to pursue.  He will have 2000 hits and there is no way he can get to any stat of consequence beyond that.  As we all know his HR and RBI stats are not worthy of 1B/DH and have no place in game history.   The longer he plays the more his batting average dips and it would be good if it stayed above .300 - I remember Mickey Mantle's anguish when he fell below .300 "My biggest regret was letting my lifetime average drop below .300," Mickey Mantle once said. He added, "it made me want to cry."

 

I know modern stat heads do not value BA like many of us old timers and the uninformed, but it is a nice figure that does have value.  Joe's value has always been OBP and he is currently number 102 on the all time career list with .390 but that will go down with each season since his OBP has been in the .360s since 2013 so he is not going for a career position there - he is instead going down the list. 

https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/onbase_perc_career.shtml

 

His OPS is below a star status and our memory of his HOF catching career is fading.  I do not hear about his clubhouse presence so he is not going to be our Torii Hunter.   

 

His career WAR is 275 tied with Norm Cash and Babe Adams.  He can add to this, but even at 56 he is tied with Johnny Damon, George Uhle and Robin Venture.  All of these are nice players, not superstars or HOF caliber which means that they are not worth Mauer's contract. https://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/WAR_career.shtml

 

One question I cannot answer is how far a team can go in reducing the amount of a contract when they resign a player. 

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