Minnesota Twins: Options at First, Post Mauer?


With just two years remaining on his contract, Joe Mauer seems entrenched at first base for the long run and the Minnesota Twins can’t do much about that.

Mauer’s long-term prospects with the Minnesota Twins seems a bit up in the air as it stands today. The general consensus at the time of his contract extension was this was a lifelong pact.

Now, however, it looks as though Mauer will need to take a significant pay cut once his contract is up if he wants to remain on the team.

That is, if the team even wants him back.

The fact is, is that Mauer over the past few seasons has been a shell of his former self. This season has been better as his walks (50), batting average (.271) and on-base percentage (.371) are all up from last year but nowhere near the numbers he had when he was hitting .365 and winning MVP’s.

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By the time Mauer’s contract is up, he will have turned 35 and unless it’s a reasonable contract, it may be wise for the Minnesota Twins to look elsewhere for a first baseman.

That leaves potential replacements as follows: Byung-ho Park, Miguel Sano, Kennys Vargas and Max Kepler as well as a trio of prospects listed in MLB.com’s Top-30 Prospects List.

Kepler has seen some very limited action at first base (one appearance in 2016), and Sano played two games at first in 2015 while Vargas and Park have had the most experience as first base is their natural position.

Park has also flashed the leather and proven he can be a nice defensive first baseman. If he can turn things around offensively and hit for a higher average while lowering his strikeouts, he could be viable option at first.

Vargas may finally be starting to turn things around after a couple years of struggles. He has done nothing but hit since being recalled prior to the All-Star Break.

The minor leaguers who found themselves in the top-30 include Daniel Palka, Lewin Diaz and Amaurys Minier.

As detailed in a recent MiLB feature from us, Palka has emerged as a true power-hitting threat for the Minnesota Twins and was recently promoted for his efforts. He is currently listed as an outfielder/first baseman.

Diaz and Minier are both very young (19 and 20, respectively) and a few years out from making an appearance in the big leagues.

There’s a lot to develop there between those two and if the predictions are correct, their arrival would work perfectly with Mauer’s contract end.

Without a true answer at first in the future – and it being a few years away – this is all just hearsay. But as it stands, it’s a bit crazy to think that the contract many thought was a necessity for the Minnesota Twins, and really it was, will be coming off the books soon.

Here’s to hoping we can see flashes of the old Mauer the rest of this season and subsequent years.

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That might make this decision even more difficult and there’s nothing wrong with that for the Minnesota Twins’ front office.