The Minnesota Twins places All-Star catcher Joe Mauer on revocable trade waivers earlier this week, and, not too surprisingly, no team put a claim in for him.
The 29-year-old is due $23 million per season through 2018, so team’s likely balked at that salary.
I heard some reports that the Mets should have gone after Mauer if the Twins were willing to work out a deal. I know it’s slightly after the fact (at least until the offseason), but let’s dissect this trade possibility.
Yes, Mauer isn’t exactly his former self and projects more as a first baseman than a catcher, but the guy is producing this year at a .312 clip with eight home runs and 68 RBI, which earned him his fifth All-Star selection.
The Mets are desperately seeking offensive production from the catcher’s spot, and Mauer would be an instant upgrade. Kelly Shoppach has looked OK offensively, but Shoppach is not Mauer, end of story.
The problem here is that in order to keep Mauer healthy, he needs to either play first base or DH. Obviously DH is not an option in the NL, so it would have to be first base.
Ike Davis is currently the Mets first baseman. He struggled out of the gate early, but his power numbers have been just as expected. Are we already willing to give up on Ike in favor of a catcher who is more of a first baseman?
Let’s say though the Mets can trade Ike for some outfield help. In fact, let’s say that Ike is included in a deal for Mauer that also nets the Mets Josh Willingham. The “Hammer” is signed for $14 million over the next two seasons, but he’ll also be 34 to begin next season.
However, the whole purpose in trading for Mauer would be to add him to a lineup that includes Ike Davis. So instead the Mets would have to dig into their prospects for a deal.
Think back to winter 2008 when the Mets and Twins made a trade for Johan Santana. The Twins acquired four prospects: Phil Humber, Carlos Gomez, Kevin Mulvey and Deolis Guerra. Humber pitched a perfect game but for the White Sox, Gomez is now on the Brewers, Mulvey is gone from the Twins system and Guerra may have a shot to be a decent pitcher for the Twins.
If the Mets start throwing around names like Wilmer Flores, Jenrry Mejia, Jeurys Familia and Collin McHugh (obviously Zack Wheeler is untouchable), the Twins may get skeptical based on the results of the other trade. But that’s the whole point of rolling the dice on prospects; some don’t pan out.
I’m not a general manger (maybe just an arm-chair GM), but if somehow the Mets could have worked out a deal for Mauer and Willingham, the team would be in good shape maybe just for next year, but beyond that it would be a gamble. Here’s what a lineup would look like, assuming no other big moves were made:
Tejada SS, Murphy 2B, Mauer C, Wright 3B, Davis 1B, Willingham LF, Duda RF, CF (either Hairston, Nieuwenhuis, den Dekker, B.J. Upton perhaps).
This would be a pretty good team, but I just don’t see it happening. Actually to answer the title question, I don’t want it to happen. If the Twins were going to ask for mid-level prospects just to get something back for Mauer, then maybe. But Mauer is locked up for six more years, so the Twins would have to be blown away by an offer for this to work. They aren’t going to trade their only superstar just for the sake of making a deal.
So instead, expect something a little more like this for next season:
Tejads SS, Murphy 2B, Wright 3B, Davis 1B, Hairston/Baxter RF, Duda/Bay LF, Shoppach/Thole C, CF (Nieuwenhuis or den Dekker).
GM Sandy Alderson said the team would be creative in the trade market perhaps. The free agent market will be weak this offseason (except for Josh Hamilton, fat chance Mets fans!), so trades will be the only way to improve this team.
Again, if the Mets and Twins can work out a trade for Mauer and even throw in Willingham in which the Mets assume the contracts (another big if) rather than mortgaging the farm system, I guess it could work. But that’s living in a fantasy world.
The safe bet: Stay away from Mauer and explore other options.