Thinking the Unthinkable

6 Feb

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net -

Just a couple of quick notes before we get started today:

·         First, be sure to click here to read a Guest Posting by Brandon Warne called Just Say No to Joe (Crede).  Brandon may write an occasional article for the website so be sure to check for those.

·         KFAN’s Phil Mackey profiled Joe Crede at his blog, P-Mac.

·         It’s not surprising that the Twins and Matt Guerrier met in the middle and signed a contract before going to an arbitration hearing. It is good to have Guerrier signed. In fact, I would not mind seeing them work on a two year deal now that they have 2009 covered.

·         Aaron Gleeman posted Prospects 16-20 yesterday.

·         See why Chris Parmelee was Josh Johnson’s choice for the Twins #13 prospect.

·         Twin Nation returns and takes a look at the Joe Mauer situation.

 

And that leads us into today’s discussion topic and question, Should the Twins Consider Trading Joe Mauer? I know. It is unthinkable, unfathomable, sacrilegious, and against the laws of nature. I get that. I fully understand that trading Joe Mauer would have some horrible affects. Let’s consider:

 

1.      Joe Mauer is one of us. He’s from Minnesota.

2.      Joe Mauer is a historically great player, having won two batting titles at a position (catcher) where no other American League player had before.

3.      Joe Mauer was drafted #1 overall, ahead of Mark Prior – you may have heard?

4.      Joe Mauer has cool sideburns.

5.      Joe Mauer is an icon.

6.      Joe Mauer is Minnesota-nice.

7.      Joe Mauer won a Gold Glove.

8.      Joe Mauer is the face of the Twins franchise.

9.      Joe Mauer is an All-Star.

10.  Joe Mauer is still quite young.

11.  Joe Mauer has the sweetest swing in baseball.

12.  Attendance would drop 50% (not-so-slight exaggeration) if Joe Mauer were traded.

13.  Who would be the second M of the M&M Boys?

14.  Many Twins fans would call the team “cheap” for trading him when he got really expensive. (What?? There are already a lot of Twins fans who think the Twins are cheap?)

15.  Joe Mauer, based on all of the above, NEEDS to be on the field in a Twins uniform when they move into Target Field.

 

I know, I could go on and on and on with reasons that trading Joe Mauer makes no sense. But let’s take some of the emotion and the ties out of the picture for just a minute or three and just consider the idea of trading Mauer.

 

There are actually a couple of things that should be considered:

 

1.      Joe Mauer is a 6-6 catcher. As much as it annoys me when people say he is an injury risk, the reality is that he is an injury risk, especially when he turns 30… in several years.

2.      How much is too much? If Joe Mauer is asking for $20 million, or even $25 million for five or maybe six or even seven years, and won’t accept any less, does it make sense for the Twins to allow that big of a percentage of the salary to be taken by just one player?

3.      The Twins have proven several times that they can be very successful in dealing veteran players for young, talented contributors that can help them continue to be competitive for years to come.

4.      The big money teams that can afford Mauer are already rumored to be drooling over the idea of Mauer joining their team via free agency in two years.

 

So as I say all the time… each trade or signing needs to make sense on its own merit. There are basically no scenarios in which trade Joe Mauer makes much sense. The Twins front office would have to be overwhelmed beyond belief.

 

But what about this… What if Theo Epstein (Red Sox GM) called and said, “Hi… we want Mauer… we will offer you (Clay) Buchholz, (Justin) Masterson, (Jed) Lowrie, (Lars) Anderson, (Ryan) Kalish, and we’ll throw in (George) Kottaras. What do you think?”

 

What if the Angels called up and said, “We want Mauer, and we will send you (Mike) Napoli, Brandon Wood, Nick Adenhart and Jose Arredondo… OK, name one more prospect.”

 

What if Brian Cashman called and said, “OK, for Mauer, we will send Jorge Posada, and pay for the remainder of his contract, catcher Jesus Montero, Phil Hughes, 3B Brad Suttle, and a Player to be Named Later (hush hush, Andrew Brackman). What do you think?”

 

In such scenarios, you have to at least stay on the phone and ask some follow-up questions, don’t you?

 

SUMMARY

No, I don’t think that the Twins would consider trading Joe Mauer. I believe that he will be kept beyond 2010, when his current four year, $33 million contract expires. I think locking him up before the 2009 season would be best. But let’s also be honest. Joe Mauer has never accepted a hometown discount. He and his agent, Ron Shapiro, didn’t settle when Mauer was the #1 overall pick. He signed for $5.5 million. His four year $33 million contract that bough out a year of free agency. If the Twins let Mauer go to free agency after the 2010 season, there is no doubt in my mind that he will use the offers of the Red Sox and Yankees an maybe the Angels and Mets, to force the Twins to increase their offer. In that worst case scenario, I still believe that Mauer would end up with the Twins for quite some time.

 

The Twins are in a tough spot. It is best for them to not let Joe Mauer get to free agency. It is best to take care of it now because the closer they get to free agency, the less incentive for Mauer to sign a long-term deal. However, Mauer is coming off of a season in which he won his second AL Batting Title, won a Silver Slugger and a Gold Glove as well as stayed healthy and caught in the second most innings of all AL catchers. His value is very high now too.

 

So what do you think? How will this Joe Mauer situation be resolved? Will he get signed this spring, and for how much? Will he go to free agency, and what effect will that have? Is it completely wrong for the Twins to consider trading the catcher?  Let me know what you think.   

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17 Responses to “Thinking the Unthinkable”

  1. neckrolls February 6, 2009 at 3:23 am #

    The Twins should offer Mauer a 4-year, $56 million extension, making his salary identical to that of Morneau. Including a signing bonus, they could go as high as $65 million. But a catcher who’s already missed significant time in 2 of his 5 pro seasons would be nuts to turn down 6 years of guaranteed money. Look at Hafner and Victor Martinez – I bet they’re glad they signed the long-term deals a few years ago rather than wait for free agency.

  2. trevor February 6, 2009 at 6:50 am #

    Why has there been so much silence on this? I would think that our favorite beat writers would be calling his agent and the front office to get comments on the “mauer situation” – at least letting us know that they said, “no comment”.

    Nobody can be sure what is best, obviously. If he stays healthy, then almost no trade could be worthwhile (unless you believe every one of the pieces we get would turn into an above average MLB player, which just doesn’t happen (see likely outcome of santana trade). But he is a big injury risk, so…

    Either way, from the PR aspect the twins have to be seen as doing everything possible to sign him and I don’t think they could really use money as an excuse, unless the yankees came in with an Arod type offer. Hope it doesn’t get to that.

  3. roger February 6, 2009 at 8:50 am #

    As soon as the Twins are 99% certain that they are done signing anyone or doing any trades this winter, they will sit down with agents for two players, Mauer and Baker. I look for them to sign Mauer to a 2-3 year extension with perhaps an additional year option. They will include a signing bonus, using some of this year’s savings to reduce the amounts paid beyond 2010. I look for Baker to sign a contract through arbitration with an option for one year beyond.

  4. thrylos98 February 6, 2009 at 9:04 am #

    I think that the money will be there to get him an extension: Cuddyer is off the books after 2010 and Nathan after 2011. A 5 year extension will cover him including his age 32 season and probably makes sense.

    On the other hand, if Epstein offers that for Mauer in a year or so, the Twins will be stupid to pass, because 3-4 of those players would automatically be in the starting lineup for the Twins and make them a better team than having Mauer alone.

  5. Brian February 6, 2009 at 10:46 am #

    I believe if they do not sign Mauer this offseason to an extension next offseason they could put Mauer out on the trading block to see what they could get for him. If any of the offers that were mentioned in this article came about next year it would be really tempting to take one of them. Most of the players would be MLB ready and would help the team a lot. Also, he has never taken a discount to stay here, so I am sure he would want to see what is out there for offers after his 2010 season. Another reason to sign him this offseason instead of waiting until next season could only drive the cost higher if healthy, and I am sure he would rather play out his 2010 season to see what is out there in the market. Then it would probably take a hometown discount to resign him because you know the Yankees and Red Sox for sure will throw a lot of money at him.

  6. Mike C February 6, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    Nope, they should not trade him. Any team we trade him to will have the same concerns about him catching for the longterm. I don’t think they’d get back any thing close to what you are suggestion. Heck, if some of those offers did hit Smith’s desk it would be hard not to take them but I just don’t see Mauer garnering that sort of offer.

  7. Ian February 6, 2009 at 12:23 pm #

    I think the Twins should go to his agent and try and get a deal done now, rather then after the season. If he signs a long term deal and then it turns out he can’t catch anymore, worst case he’s Paul Molitor with a bit better plate displine. If Mauer seems intent on going to FA, fine. Don’t baby him, catch him into the ground and bring up Ramos.

  8. Stu in SDGO February 6, 2009 at 12:51 pm #

    I’d be surprised if the FO has not already been exchanging some numbers with his agent. Hopefully, they’ll get an extension done for a reasonable amount of money. If not, I’d wait until to see how the Twinks are faring right before the trade deadline this year, and if they’re out of it, make the best possible deal for Mauer at that time (I’d take any of those you postulated, Seth, if they were “real”).

  9. Seth February 6, 2009 at 12:55 pm #

    Also, I agree with those who say that those teams would not give up that much, even for Joe Mauer. What I’m saying is that, unless they make such offers, you don’t trade Mauer and just see how it plays out.

  10. mike wants wins February 6, 2009 at 2:05 pm #

    So you all think 25%+ of your payroll can go to one player? If he gets $20MM, do you think the payroll will go over $80MM? Which of the big three young pitchers don’t you re-sign if they are successful? How much does DY or CG or DS need to stay in years 3-5 of Mauer’s deal? You are all willing to have Nathan come off the books to pay for 1 hitter? If they Twins have any of the current players being successful, they’ll need to give them serious rasied in years 3-5 of that new Mauer deal. If not, then it won’t matter if Mauer is on the team, because the rest won’t be any good.

    I’m all for keeping him, but to do that, they’ll have to increase the payroll by 80-100% on top of this year’s number to do so and have any other players on the roster in their prime earning years.

  11. Jeremy February 6, 2009 at 2:57 pm #

    The Twins could always sweeten the deal with other things.

    Here’s some perks written into Carlos Beltran’s contract, I like the last one the best:

    -he receives a personal pitching machine from the team
    -some traveling costs for his family is paid by the team
    -he receives the best available 15-person luxury suite at all home games, including the post-season, though he must pay for post-season tickets
    -he receives a Hotel Suite when on the road
    -the team will lease him a conditioned ocular (eye) enhancer machine (a device that throws colored, numbered tennis balls to batters at 150 mph or faster)

  12. TheMix February 6, 2009 at 8:47 pm #

    Unless one of his legs spontaneously fall off, you do not trade Mauer. I don’t care how much financial/talent development sense it makes in the short term, in the long term (unless BOTH his legs fall off) you’re going to look like idiots.

    Mauer is, let’s be completely honest, a once in a franchise player. For all of those reasons you listed Seth. You trade him away and you’re trading away someone who is the face of the Franchise now, but also perhaps could be the face of the Franchise for all-time. He undoubtedly has equaled Kirby Puckett’s fame and adulation throughout the state and he isn’t even 30 yet. Keep him with the team and he surpasses that easily. You trade him away and you’re left with a one-time face of the franchise that goes to a different club, gets locked up for however many years, and spends the majority of his career with another team. Unacceptable.

    Trust me, the financial gains/losses from keeping him here outweigh the financial gains/losses from trading him. It may cost you big in the short term, but A) you keep those fans from rioting in the streets and keep them wanting to be at games B) you get him, this hometown boy, who will perhaps go down as one of the best hitting catchers of all-time…as the face of your franchise forever. Seriously how many teams in baseball can you name that have/had a player like that?

  13. trevor February 7, 2009 at 10:49 am #

    I truly would not even trade him for any of the packages seth mentioned. None of those guys are guaranteed all stars and certainly none of them project to be as far superior to others at their position as Mauer is to other catchers. And as for DY, CG or others getting expensive, trade them for younger players if you have to, not the best catcher in the game.

  14. Jim H February 7, 2009 at 11:38 am #

    I doubt that the Twins will trade Mauer or let him become a free agent. Certainly not in his prime while he is clearly the best all around catcher in baseball.

    I am sure you have read the posts on Twinkie Town by Adam P. on what he calls TRA. I found it interesting and while I didn’t read any of accounts on actually how he calculated his findings, I think I understand what he did pretty well. I really like this sort of accounting because I have felt for awhile that the “little things” are undervalued because there is no easy way to assign a value to them. It is interesting that Mauer rates so high on his system. Even though he is not particularly fast. I do think this sort of system does give a better understanding of the value of speed to increasing run scoring. Hitting home runs is trilling and its value is easy to account for. Speed is not so easy to account for.

    Many people have shown over the years that merely stealing a lot of bases does not necessarily increase run scoring. If you are getting caught stealing at too high a rate, you maybe actually hurting your team. However taking the extra base and even the threat of stealing or bunting can have an effect on run scoring. TRA seems to show this. While making so called productive outs is often overrated by the Twins annoucers, it is clearly better to roll a grounder to right side of the infield and advance a runner, than it is to strike out. TRA seems to show this.

    I suspect that TRA might overvalue the “litle things” but since I think power is usually overrated, that is a good thing.

  15. cmathewson February 7, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    I second Jim H. That’s some of the best work in sabermetrics since FIP. I’m surprised it has received so little notice by other sabermatricians. Seth, what’s up with that? Adam Peterson makes ubelmann look like Buster Olney.

    Anyway, I would have gone the other way with Guerrier. I would have nontendered him. But the way the market cratered, it ended up being a pretty good deal for the Twins.

    If Boston offered that kind of deal, I suppose we would have to listen. But I doubt there’s much chance of it. If it turned into a situation like Santana, where there wasn’t much of a market for him, I would make sure I got him signed, even if it took Teixeira money. You don’t get too many opportunities to retain a hall of famer. Mauer is a special case.

  16. Tony February 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    I think that the Twins would be well-served to try to sign Joe Mauer to a contract in the neighborhood of 5 years/$80 million. By doing this, they ensure that Joe Mauer will be teammates with Morneau, Baker, Slowey, Liriano, and the current group of young outfielders. By signing Mauer, this probably enhances his value in a trade, if this is the option to be chosen, as the team taking him on will not be worried about re-signing him.

    A side note. I’m not sure that Mauer has ecliped Kirby Puckett yet. Kirby was the heart-and-soul of two World Series championship teams, and Mauer has not been close to doing this yet.

  17. Adam Peterson February 7, 2009 at 9:00 pm #

    Great stuff, as always Seth.

    First off, I’m a huge fan of Mauer. Any time you can get that much production from the catcher position (more, when you consider baserunning and the fact that when he makes outs they tend to be more productive), it’s difficult to find a more valuable player.

    If Boston were to offer Buchholz, Masterson, Lowrie, Anderson, Kalish and other(s), I’d certainly listen. If I felt there is a reasonable chance we would not be able to keep Mauer after 2010, I jump all over that deal. The thought of adding Buchholz to Liriano-Baker-Slowey is scary (assuming he learns that he has a plus fastball…)

    Comparing to Kirby, Mauer needs a ring to be discussed in the same breath as Kirby, IMO.

    As for TRA and Mauer’s value running the bases, it’s basically because he is really good at taking the extra base. Think about it, which is more valuable, a runner going first to third on a single, or a steal of second base? In general, getting that runner to third is going to be more valuable, but MLB doesn’t keep those stats…I do.

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