Remember what it was like before 2010?
The Twins still played in the Metrodome. Their payroll was around $57 million—total. No one ever booed 2009 AL MVP Joe Mauer. In fact, Joe was considered one of the very best players in the game, and the media would not shut up about whether he would be the future catcher for the Yankees or the Red Sox.
Instead, of course, Joe signed an eight-year, $184 million contract extension, with a full no-trade clause, that pretty much ensured he would be a Twin for life.
Fast forward about three years—and the media is right back at it.
Apparently, a lot of people think Joe Mauer is on the market, looking to move from Minnesota, and is the perfect fit for their team of choice. It all started last August when Ken Rosenthal wrote that the Twins had placed Mauer on trade waivers, and the Red Sox should go after him. Surely you remember that, right? It prompted the mini-crisis among Minnesotans, who—as logical Minnesotans would—quickly made their way down to the Kemps Booth at the State Fair to ask Theresa Mauer if the Twins were really trying to trade Joe because OMG!?
As all-around Twins/Person/Puppy/Everything hero, Jacque Jones, later explained to a fan on Twitter:
Be sure to give Jacque a follow!
I've been trying to keep up on other Joe Mauer trade ideas suggested by journalists, bloggers, and fans, as there are many. Some of the interesting ideas I've come across are below.
Joe Mauer—the Red Sox
There are a lot of Red Sox people out there who think Joe is their man. One of those people is definitely Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe. "Still think trying to get the Twins to trade Joe Mauer to the Red Sox makes sense," he wrote back on October 7th. "Twins can take on some money and take one of Boston's catchers and another prospect or two."
"If Mauer had not signed that deal [with the Twins], Boston would have been a likely destination for him," Nick Cafardo explained later in November. "He lives in Fort Myers, Fla., and has always been enamored with the Red Sox."
Another Red Sox blog, Sports of Boston, is also on board the Joe Mauer trade train, since it would be economical. "This deal may not cost the Sox as much as people think," writer DMac noted, "because the Twins could be desperate to get out from under a contract they cannot afford." The Bosox Banter, seemed to agree: "According to some speculation, the Twins might be willing to pay some of Mauer's remaining contract to get his salary off the books."
Just yesterday, Gordon Edes wrote a piece for ESPNBoston.com that argued it would not be smart business for the Twins to hold on to Mauer:
"Parting with Mauer, a hometown hero St. Paul-born-and-raised, would not be a popular move in the Twin Cities, but the Twins owe Mauer $138 million over the next six seasons, an average of $23 million per annum. ... for a team that doesn't appear likely to be in contention any time soon, having nearly a quarter of the payroll tied up by one player doesn't make the most business sense."
On the other hand, trading for Mauer would be smart business sense for the Red Sox:
"[W]hile the Red Sox have been knocked for making baseball decisions with an eye on how it will play in their marketplace, it's foolish and naive to suggest it shouldn't be a consideration. The Red Sox need to win back the support they lost in 2012, when season-ticket holders had trouble giving their seats away."
"Depending on how much of the contract [the Twins are] willing to pick up," he added, "the Sox should be able to hang on to their very best prospects in a deal for Mauer."
Because apparently, the Red Sox are a charity.
Joe Mauer—the Yankee
Inevitably, Yankee fans were also interested in Mauer, but they seemed to be more resigned to reality—albeit, a strange reality—than Red Sox fans. "We really should have traded for Joe Mauer for example 2 years ago," one long-time Yankee fan lamented.
"Minnesota will likely lose their star catcher because of financial constraints," another New York fan explained, "and teams like New York or Boston could really use his services. The first overall pick from the 2001 MLB Draft is not the power hitter he once was, but he is terrific at getting on base and driving in runs..."
And then there was a Bleacher Report article that suggested the Yankees trade Alex Rodriguez for Joe Mauer and a couple prospects. Because of course there was.
Joe Mauer—the National
Over at the blog Flapship, writer B. Patrick Simon suggested the Nationals trade Wilson Ramos for Mau—I'm sorry, I just. I just can't. I can't.
Can we just try to pretend this never happened?
Joe Mauer—the Other Non-Twins Player
Other fans and writers have thrown their hats in the ring as well, although not nearly as many. Matt Trowbridge of the Rockford Register Star seemed particularly distraught, however, that neither the Yankees, the Red Sox, nor even the Cubs had tried to make a trade for Mauer off waivers:
"There is no guarantee Minnesota would have let Mauer go if another team had claimed him on waivers. They surely would have tried to work out a trade, the way Torono did when the White Sox claimed Alex Rios a few years ago. But when the White Sox wouldn't give up a single thing, the Blue Jays just let Chicago have him.
"Well, the Twins have been trying to cut salary severely the last year. I would never have taken on Mauer AND given up some prized prospects, but I would have also taken a stab and seen what it would take."
A Texas Rangers fan suggested Ian Kinsler be traded for Joe Mauer plus $5 million a year—although it's worth noting, after the poster asked for criticism on the ideas, the second commenter observes, "Kinsler for Mauer would not work. Mauer is Minnesota."
At Mets Merized Online, Craig Lerner makes a bold trade prediction: the Mets send Jason Bay, Zack Wheeler, Josh Thole, and Jordany Valdespin to the Twins for Joe Mauer and $5 million a year (in other words, $30 million of the $138 million he is owed). Sounds too much like a Fantasy Baseball trade by a second year player so I'm suspicious.
Joe Mauer—the Twin
I'll admit—a lot of the trade ideas I've shared here are stupid. That's partly because I picked the stupid ones to share. But it's also because, frankly, I didn't find many good ideas out there.
Because there aren't many good Joe Mauer trades.
Mauer is more valuable to the Twins than he would be to any other team. Does that mean there is no possible "good" trade out there? No—but it's just not likely you're going to get a good return right now. Does it mean Mauer is not overpaid? Not necessarily, although I don't really think he is. Does it mean trading Mauer won't make more sense in a couple years? Heck no—but with the no-trade clause, it will always be his choice.
He's a potential Hall of Fame player, a hometown hero, the one who puts the most butts in the seats of that (relatively) new, tax-payer funded stadium. Why would the Twins want to trade him, especially now, for a likely lower return?