The Minnesota Twins could be a very different looking team by this time next season. The team has tough decisions to make on a handful of key contributors during the upcoming offseason.
One thing worth keeping an eye on is what happens next for Minnesota Twins first baseman Joe Mauer. He has been a fixture in the Twin Cities for more than a decade. However, concessions will need to be made for him to continue his career in a Twins uniform.
Mauer is currently the highest paid player on the Twins payroll making $23 million during the 2018 season. However, he signed that contract when he was one of the top catchers in MLB and failed to live up to expectations in some fans minds. Now Mauer is playing first base and is in line for a noticeable pay cut.
Injuries have hampered his ability to make the impact that he expected to make coming into this season. That brings us to the question that is on many Twins fans minds. How much do his injuries during this season impact whether he will be in a Twins uniform for future seasons?
During his heyday, Mauer was regarded as one of the top backstops in all of baseball. Prior to suffering a concussion in 2013, Mauer was on pace to be one of the greatest catchers of all-time.
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Prior to signing his contract extension in 2010, Mauer had a career .324 batting average. He also had a very good .408 on-base percentage, further showing his importance to the team. There’s little doubt that Mauer had done enough during his career to that point to earn his big payday. However, he was paid at the level of a top-flight catcher and his concussion forced him to move to first base during the 2014 season.
Mauer has a .295 batting average with a .380 on-base percentage for the Twins since signing his extension. Although his strikeout numbers have been higher, including his lone 100+ strikeout season, Mauer has remained consistent.
For his career, Mauer has hit .308 with a very good 12.8% strikeout rate. Mauer has been everything the Minnesota Twins could have hoped for when drafting him number one overall during the 2001 MLB Draft.
Maurer is currently trying to work his way back from concussion-like symptoms and Minnesota has missed his bat in the lineup. He has proven to be solid defensively at first base with a career .997 fielding percentage. However, Mauer doesn’t exactly fit the profile of the typical first baseman, but it’s not always about how many home runs a player hits.
Although his current injury status is alarming, it shouldn’t stop the Minnesota Twins from exploring a long-term deal with Mauer during the Winter. If anything, this should allow for a more team-friendly contract that could keep Mauer in the Twin Cities for the rest of his career.
The Twins don’t have a lot in the way of first baseman throughout their system. Brent Rooker and Lewin Diaz have the potential to make an impact in MLB soon. However, they both need more time to develop and won’t figure into the equation at the Major League level for a few more seasons.
Minnesota needs Mauer as much as any other player on this roster. You can always count on Mauer working the pitcher over in every at-bat and the Twins don’t have a lot of players with that ability.
Hopefully, Mauer rejoins the lineup soon and finishes this season strong. Although this season hasn’t been what fans expected so far, Minnesota can still make a run for this division. However, they will need Mauer in the lineup for that to happen.