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Replacing Joe Mauer at first base

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With Joe Mauer’s retirement, the Twins suddenly have a hole at first base. While no perfect options exist, there are still plenty of choices for the organization.

Miami Marlins v Philadelphia Phillies Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images

We all knew that Joe Mauer’s retirement would come someday and now it’s actually here. The organization has to find a way to fill first base and fortunately for them, they have several options to consider. While this is not a complete list, I’ve included multiple players that could be Mauer’s replacement for Opening Day.

Miguel Sano

His move to first base is inevitable, but moving him across the infield diamond would be too early. Still just 25 years old, the hope is for Sano to still provide adequate defense at 3rd base while using 1st base for a player that’s actually incapable of fielding another position. His 2018 season was poor regardless of where he was playing, so the Twins would have to hope that another year removed from having a rod inserted into his leg would help him regain his form.

Tyler Austin

Austin enamored himself to Twins fans by knocking 9 home runs over the final month and a half of the season after joining the organization in the Lance Lynn trade. However, he strikes out as often as Sano but with fewer walks, and like Sano he doesn’t hit for much of an average, either. You can certainly do worse than Austin, but the Twins should be shooting for someone better than him as well.

Carlos Santana

Now we get to have some fun. We all remember Sano in right field after the Twins signed Byungho Park, and the Philadelphia Phillies just copied that idea when they brought Carlos Santana on board, pushing young phenom Rhys Hoskins to left field. While Hoskins’ offense has excelled, his defense in left field has been, well, not good. Thus, they would love to get him back to first base, and that would be possible with a trade of Santana. He’s owed $34.5 million over the next two years, though the Twins would want some of that covered in spite of having plenty of money to spend over the next couple seasons. Like Sano and Austin, he doesn’t hit for much of an average, but with a walk rate north of 15% for his career, he’s still generated a career OBP of .363. He’s Robbie Grossman with power, basically.

Justin Bour

Sticking with the Phillies, they have yet another first baseman but this one has no starting spot on the roster. Acquired from the Marlins in the midst of a down season, Bour became a bit of an overqualified pinch-hitter, though he didn’t put up much of a fight for more playing time as he hit just .224/.296/.347 as a Phillie. MLB Trade Rumors lists Bour as a non-tender candidate as he’s projected to earn $5.2 million via arbitration in 2019, so he’ll either be traded to a team that finds that salary palatable or could be had at a far cheaper sum if he’s indeed non-tendered. Bour struggles mightily against lefthanded pitching (career 77 wRC+) but if the Twins choose to keep Austin, they’ll be natural platoon mates.

Matt Adams

The first baseman for the Cardinals for the majority of his career, Adams received some playing time for the Nationals in 2018 while Ryan Zimmerman was on the disabled list. He’s been a slightly above-average hitter for his career, though he’s even worse than Bour against lefties as he has a career 59 wRC+. Adams has also consistently rated as a plus defender at first base in spite of being 6’3” and 245 lbs. so he’d provide an added benefit to replacing Mauer compared to some of the other names listed. Adams is also likely to be a cheap free agent, possibly even coming under the salary that Bour could make through arbitration. He’s also just 30 years old, meaning the Twins could benefit with signing him to a two-year contract.

Lucas Duda

He was good in the past, wasn’t particularly good for the Royals in 2018, and will be cheap. Your classic Terry Ryan signing. That’s about it.

Steve Pearce

A late bloomer as he broke out at 32 years old in 2014 for the Orioles. He’ll be 36 for nearly all of the 2019 season, yet is coming off a solid season as a part-timer with the Blue Jays and Red Sox, culminating with World Series MVP honors. He draws walks, strikes out the least compared to everyone else on this list, crushes lefties while being league-average against righties, and is even capable of playing the corner outfield in a pinch. Due to his age and potential part-time status, he should be relatively affordable. His handedness doesn’t platoon well with Austin though, but frankly I think he might be the best option out of everyone here.

Poll

Which player do you want playing first base for the 2019 Twins?

This poll is closed

  • 17%
    Miguel Sano
    (381 votes)
  • 30%
    Tyler Austin
    (667 votes)
  • 25%
    Carlos Santana
    (565 votes)
  • 4%
    Justin Bour
    (101 votes)
  • 5%
    Matt Adams
    (129 votes)
  • 0%
    Lucas Duda
    (19 votes)
  • 6%
    Steve Pearce
    (135 votes)
  • 9%
    Someone else (mention name in comments)
    (199 votes)
2196 votes total Vote Now