Wednesday, August 29, 2012

If Joe Mauer was traded, where could he go?

On a day when the biggest piece of news coming out of the Twins Cities should have been the Twins securing the 2014 MLB All-Star Game, most of the national attention was on the reports that Joe Mauer had been placed on revocable waivers. Fans and some members of the media got all in a tizzy by the thought that Mauer, the hometown boy, could ever leave the Twins. In the end, it seems like a whole lot of fuss for nothing because there doesn't seem to be much of a chance of Mauer and his massive contract leaving the Twin Cities. 

To the casual fan, it can be confusing at this time of the year to hear about players being put on waivers when the trade deadline has come and gone. The big deal pulled off between the Red Sox and the Dodgers can get fans thinking about what other big name players will be the next to move. It is rare to see big moves like this pulled off after the trade deadline because of all of the hoops that teams have to jump through to get a player to a team that truly wants to trade for them. A trade involving Joe Mauer would be similarly hard because he holds a full no-trade clause so any move for Mauer has to be approved by the catcher. 

A few notes about the waiver process:
  • Many teams will place players on waivers at this time of the year and there is a pretty good chance that this isn't the first (or last) time Mauer has seen the waiver wire.
  • Any MLB team can put a claim in on a player, the entire American League would get first crack at Mauer in reverse order of the standings.
  • If no one in the AL claims Mauer, an NL team could put in a claim and once again it goes in reverse order of the standings.
  • The club putting in a claim risks the chance that the Twins would just dump Mauer's contract on the new club without the Twins getting anything back in a trade. This means there are quite a few clubs that couldn't even think about it.
  • Since no team put in a claim on Mauer, the Twins could work out a deal with any club at this point in the year. It would just need to be approved by Mauer because of his no-trade clause.
  • Reports have come out to say that the Twins place everyone on waivers at this time of the year but it can mean very little.

With all of that being said, it is interesting to think about the possibility of one of the best players in the game being dealt to a contender for a title run. There are plenty of obstacles in the way including Mauer's ridiculously large contract and his no-trade clause. Of course there would be teams interested in obtaining Mauer's services but only a few would be able to absorb this massive deal. There are plenty of clubs that are set in the catching department so they would have no need for Mauer but who else would be interested in the Twins' hometown boy?

Let's take a minute and pretend that a deal for Mauer will take place. Here are five of the top teams that have the budget and room for a catcher to slide into their line-up.

Yankees: The darn Yankees have the highest payroll in the game so adding one more big salary might not be too hard to handle. Before Mauer signed his big deal with the Twins, it was widely speculated that the Yankees would be interested and making a play for Mauer when he hit free agency. In the past, Mauer has performed very well at Yankee Stadium and the short porch in right field could help to bolster his offensive numbers. He has played 14 games at the new Yankee Stadium and he has hit .327/.439/.545 with three home runs and three doubles. One of the problems with the Yankees might be the age of the club and the fact that Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter could be forced to spend more time as the DH. The Yankees are set at first base with Mark Teixeria so where would Mauer get all of his at-bats? His catching duties have been cut back and it is expected for this trend to continue as he approaches age 30. 

Red Sox: The original report from Ken Rosenthal speculated about Boston being interested in Mauer because of their recent salary dump. Mauer has been a target for the Red Sox in the past and it is hard not to think that he could succeed in a Boston uniform. It's easy to imagine Mauer scattering balls off of the Green Monster on a nightly basis. David Ortiz is at the end of his career as a DH and Mauer could get some time at first without Adrian Gonzalez in the picture. With $142.5 million left on Mauer's contract, the Red Sox could have tried to jump for Mauer but this wasn't the case. Jacoby Ellsbury is due to get a contact extension at some point and the Red Sox just got rid of a lot of money in bad contracts. The idea of adding Mauer was probably too much at this point as the Red Sox look to go in a different direction.

Angels: Los Angeles needs a catcher and they aren't afraid of spending money as they showed this past offseason with the editions of Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson. Do the Angels need another star at this point? They have all of the pieces to one of the best rotations in the game. Albert Pujols is the best hitter in this generation and Mike Trout is emerging as a once in a generation star. There are plenty of big names in LA and Mauer might get lost in the shuffle. With Pujols getting most of the time at first base, Mauer would need to find time at other spots. Some other bad contracts in LA make it seem like this deal would be tough to pull off for the Angels. If I'm Terry Ryan, I say, "Mauer for Trout, straight up." Then I pull the phone away from my ear because of the laughter on the other end.

Dodgers: The new ownership group has shown their willingness to spend big money and adding another contract might not be that big of a deal. The absence of a DH in the National League seems like a draw back from Mauer moving to the Senior Circuit. Gonzalez looks to be locked in at first base so Mauer would be out of the line-up on a more regular basis to give his legs a rest from catching duties. He could always try the outfield but the Dodgers are sitting pretty well in that department as well. Making another big move could be huge for the Dodgers franchise but it doesn't seem like their roster is a good fit for Mr. Mauer.

Cubs: Since Theo Epstein moved to Chicago, the Cubs haven't made too much of a splash. Adding Mauer to the fold could be a franchise changing move for a team trying to dig out of the lower levels of the National League. If the Red Sox were in love with Mauer in the past, it makes sense to think that Epstein would like to get the player and maybe rub it in his old team's face. Much like the Twins, the Cubs and Epstein are attempting to fix a club after a couple of rough seasons. Mauer's addition to the Cubs would make a splash but they are trying to turn themselves around for the long haul. It doesn't make much sense to bring in a deal like Mauer for the rebuilding process.

So what do you think? Where would Mauer wind up if he was traded? 

No comments: