November 11th, 2013, was a day Twins bloggers have been predicting for years. Yes, we're still gloating about it. The Twins announced that Joe Mauer would be moving to 1st base full time starting in 2014.
No one else in baseball has a higher active batting average than Joe Mauer. Yet, Joe has played in more than 140 games just twice in his career. With Joe on the move, the Twins were left with Josmil Pinto and Chris Herrmann behind the dish, not counting Ryan Doumit since his days were numbered at the position anyway. Pinto had a nice September call up, and has demonstrated a solid string of minor league success. On the other hand, he's also had a rough go around in winter ball, and has been hampered by shoulder issues. With Chris Herrmann, he was called up when the Twins were out of options and performed better than what might have been expected. He was having a horrible season at Triple-A in 2013. I'm talking an OPS of .608...that's some Drew Butera numbers, yo (JK nothing's that bad).
Expecting those two to be sufficient options not just with their bats, but being behind the plate, is foolish. After a bit of dibble-dabble with AJ Pierzynski and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, the Twins signed Kurt Suzuki to a one year, 2.75 million dollar deal earlier this week. Suzuki juggled a revolving door of pitchers in his time in Oakland, including Gio Gonzalez, Rich Harden, Trevor Cahill, and Justin Duchscherer (remember him?) with guys like Brett Anderson, Dallas Braden and Brandon McCarthy filling in nicely as well.
Now, I'm not giving all the credit to Suzuki for those guys being in Oakland and their success. My point is that he is more than used to a revolving door of pitchers, and HAVE YOU SEEN the number of pitchers the Twins have used the past three seasons? His bat has fallen off and yes, he was once a top 10 prospect in the A's organization, but those days are definitely not returning. His defensive game has always been adequate, throwing out 26% of possible base stealers in his career.
In 2013, there were ten catchers that had a WAR over 2.0 with over 400 plate appearances. Of those players, only one was above the age of 27 (Yadier Molina, 31). I'm not a math guy, (or an English guy for that matter, LOL) but considering the 30 teams in baseball are playing, bare minimum, two catchers per season, there really aren't that many really good catchers in baseball.
This isn't about settling for mediocrity. Major League Baseball has such scarce resources behind the plate that trusting a veteran who has done it before, and done it well enough to create positive value on the field, makes sense to me.